Hacktivism, or 'Political Hacking', is a form of eletronic civil disobedience and direct action that came to prominence in the 1990's. Hacktivists use both legal and legally dubious electronic tools to accomplish political ends. Hactivism may be considered a form of Internet Activism.One of the more well known entirely legal forms of hactivism is the 'electronic sit-in'.



Hacktivism developed during the 1980's, perhaps beginning with the takeover of an HBO satellite signal by a hacker known as Captain Midnight, who then used the satellite to broadcast a pirated signal that protested the subscription rates for satellite dish owners. Throughout the late 1980's and the 1990's, a number of politically motivated hacking incidents received wide media coverage.


Notable Hacktivist Events


In October 1989, computers at NASA and the Department of Energy were penetrated by the anti-nuclear WANK worm. The worm altered their login screens to display an anti-nuclear, pacifist message.

In 1999, hacktivists organized a form of virtual sit-in against ECHELON, a system that UKUSA member states use to monitor all telecommunications traffic in the world. Although the actual location of the target was unknown, it was thought that participants' creation and propagation throughout the internet of keyword lists would cause the system to overload from 'too many hits'.

In early 2000, the gatt.org site, a parody of the World Trade Organization and the General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade, utilized a form of 'typosquatting' in which a name very similar to the actual WTO/GATT site was used. The site was transferred from a group of hacktivists to the well-known culture jammers known as The Yes Men. The site was so successful that a group of businessmen mistakenly invited one of The Yes Men to speak at a trade conference, believing him to be a formal representative of the WTO.

In 2008, the Borderlands Hacklab and the Electronic Disturbance Theatre organized a number of virtual sit-ins against biotech companies on the 5th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, protesting the development of nano and bio-weapons by companies such as DuPont.=

See Also



Internet Activism






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