Looking into the Positive and Negative Aspects of Hacktivism
This chapter moves the analysis into more depth by assessing the links of hacktivism to freedom of expression and civil disobedience. This is done with the aim of highlighting the main concerns behind hacktivist practices as a form of expressive law-breaking, but also in order to discuss the positive elements it entails as a novel political practice. It first reviews the links between symbolic law-breaking and free speech/freedom of expression and finds similarities and differences between hacktivist practices and protected speech conceptually and legally. Finding that a link between the two would be hard to establish in most cases, the analysis then moves on to review the links between hacktivist practices and civil disobedience, since hacktivism has been often characterised as electronic civil disobedience. The chapter discusses the value of civil disobedience and the moral and practical criteria that reinforce its positive elements whilst mitigating its negative consequences. The chapter closes by analogising hacktivist tactics and practices to civil disobedience and translates the arguments regarding the positive and negative elements of civil disobedience into cyberspace situations.