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The Securitizationof Online Activism
OutlineIntroduction Background Anonymous Speech Act The Audience Emergency Measures Conclusion
Key QuestionHow are government actors in the United States takingaction to securitize hacktivism?Hacktivism: the act of h...
HypothesisHacktivism, and particularly the online activism groupAnonymous, is being securitized by government actors inthe...
BackgroundHow has hacktivism evolved, and in which ways dohacktivists interact with government actors?Method: a literatur...
Anonymousa loosely-affiliated group of computer programmers organizes itself to coordinate online protestsmethods inclu...
Civil DisobedienceElectronic civil disobedience is borrowing the non-violent directaction tactics from earlier social move...
Speech ActWhat language have government actors in the UnitedStates used to frame hacktivism as a threat to nationalsecurit...
Speech ActTerrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. But in the not toodistant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat ...
Speech ActToday, our adversaries sit on fiber optic cables and wi-finetworks, unknown and undetected…They seek our technol...
The AudienceHow are citizens and the private sector responding to themessage that hacktivists pose an imminent threat?Met...
Emergency MeasuresWhat emergency measures are government actorspromoting in order to strengthen their nation’s securityaga...
ConclusionGovernment actors in the United States are in the processof securitizing hacktivism, and in particular the onlin...
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The securitization of online activism

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In recent years, hacktivists have received greater attention from the media, the public and from government bodies. The distribution of classified information by hacktivists has garnered much media attention. In particular, the 2010 release of over 200,000 United States embassy cables by the whistleblower organization Wikileaks (the largest set of confidential documents ever released into the public domain) was widely publicized and severely condemned by the United States government (Al Jazeera, 2010). As their actions become both bolder and more widely acknowledged, hacktivists are being increasingly seen as a threat to national security in security-focused states such as the United States. This raises the question of how actors in the government of the United States are currently taking action to securitize hacktivism.

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  • What documents?What will I be looking for?What words or phrases?Who are the key players?
  • For example, diverting trafficaway from a Web site is akin to setting up aroadblock or picketing a building, and organising adenial of service attack is equivalent to a sit-in.Huschle believes that all acts of cyber disobedienceare de facto illegal, but that hacktivist acts are onlythose that serve as social or political forms ofprotest – discounting malicious acts.
  • What documents?What will I be looking for?What words or phrases?Who are the key players?This will be explored through document analysis of FBI speeches, Department of Homeland Security briefings, legal mechanisms and relevant academic and news documents. These sources will allow for analysis, through a framing theory lens, of the words and phrases used by government actors, and the interpretations of their choice of language by academics and journalists.
  • Terrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. But in the not too distant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the number one threat to our country. We need to take lessons learned from fighting terrorism and apply them to cyber crime.We must continue to push forward, because our adversaries are relentless. They want our money, our property, and our secrets, and some seek to harm us well beyond that. Together, we can turn the tide against them and bolster the security of our nation’s information, networks, and infrastructure. Amongst all of the crimes our country faces, the FBI considers high-tech crimes to be the most significant. As a result, the FBI’s top three priorities are the previously mentioned counterterrorism and counterintelligence, followed immediately by cyber. Espionage once pitted spy versus spy, country against country. Today, our adversaries sit on fiber optic cables and wi-fi networks, unknown and undetected. They may be nation-state actors or mercenaries for hire, rogue hackers or transnational criminal syndicates. These hackers actively target our government networks. They seek our technology, our intelligence and our intellectual property, even our military weapons and strategies. In short, they have everything to gain, and we have a great deal to lose.The end result will be the same: we will lose our data. We may lose access to our own information. And we may well lose our security.
  • Terrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. But in the not too distant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the number one threat to our country. We need to take lessons learned from fighting terrorism and apply them to cyber crime.We must continue to push forward, because our adversaries are relentless. They want our money, our property, and our secrets, and some seek to harm us well beyond that. Together, we can turn the tide against them and bolster the security of our nation’s information, networks, and infrastructure. Amongst all of the crimes our country faces, the FBI considers high-tech crimes to be the most significant. As a result, the FBI’s top three priorities are the previously mentioned counterterrorism and counterintelligence, followed immediately by cyber. Espionage once pitted spy versus spy, country against country. Today, our adversaries sit on fiber optic cables and wi-fi networks, unknown and undetected. They may be nation-state actors or mercenaries for hire, rogue hackers or transnational criminal syndicates. These hackers actively target our government networks. They seek our technology, our intelligence and our intellectual property, even our military weapons and strategies. In short, they have everything to gain, and we have a great deal to lose.The end result will be the same: we will lose our data. We may lose access to our own information. And we may well lose our security.
  • This will be explored, through a constructivist lends, by document analysis of the previously listed sources, as well as reports issued by private sector players and opinions of citizens published on blogs. These sources will allow for analysis of the messages being directed at private sector players and citizens, and the reaction of the audience to the concept of hacktivists posing an imminent threat.
  • This will be explored through document analysis of all previously listed sources. There sources will allow for analysis of the actions government actors have already taken, and are promoting should be taken, in order to diminish the threat of hacktivism to national security.
  • While there are certainly voices of opposition to the comparison of hacktivists to terrorists, the discourse is dominated by those who perceive a security threat. The successful securitization of hacktivism is likely to lead to stricter penalties for hacktivists, increased government security online, and an increase in the level of monitoring and censorship of online communications and activities by the United States government
  • Transcript of "The securitization of online activism"

    1. 1. The Securitizationof Online Activism
    2. 2. OutlineIntroduction Background Anonymous Speech Act The Audience Emergency Measures Conclusion
    3. 3. Key QuestionHow are government actors in the United States takingaction to securitize hacktivism?Hacktivism: the act of hacking, or breaking into acomputer system, for a politically or socially motivatedpurpose. The individual who performs an act ofhacktivism is said to be a hacktivist (TechTarget, 2001).
    4. 4. HypothesisHacktivism, and particularly the online activism groupAnonymous, is being securitized by government actors inthe United States through dialogue and legal mechanismsthat frame hacktivists as terrorists.
    5. 5. BackgroundHow has hacktivism evolved, and in which ways dohacktivists interact with government actors?Method: a literature review of academic, governmentand news documents on the subject of online activism,with a focus on the United States.
    6. 6. Anonymousa loosely-affiliated group of computer programmers organizes itself to coordinate online protestsmethods include DDOS attacking websites, hackinginto organizations servers and leaking documents.Anonymous hasnt once used its capabilities to physicallyharm another human being or the general public.
    7. 7. Civil DisobedienceElectronic civil disobedience is borrowing the non-violent directaction tactics from earlier social movements (Wray, 1998). Diverting traffic away from a website is akin to setting up aroadblock of picking a building Organizing a denial of service attack is akin to a sit-in(Auty, 2004)Acts of cyber disobedience are de facto illegal, but hacktivist actsare only those that serve as social or political forms of protest(Huschle, 2002).
    8. 8. Speech ActWhat language have government actors in the UnitedStates used to frame hacktivism as a threat to nationalsecurity?Method: Document analysis of government documents,academic and news articles Theory: Framing theory
    9. 9. Speech ActTerrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. But in the not toodistant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose thenumber one threat to our country. We need to take lessonslearned from fighting terrorism and apply them to cyber crime.We must continue to push forward, because our adversaries arerelentless. They want our money, our property, and our secrets,and some seek to harm us well beyond that. Together, we canturn the tide against them and bolster the security of ournation’s information, networks, and infrastructure.
    10. 10. Speech ActToday, our adversaries sit on fiber optic cables and wi-finetworks, unknown and undetected…They seek our technology,our intelligence and our intellectual property, even our militaryweapons and strategies. In short, they have everything to gain,and we have a great deal to lose.The end result will be the same: we will lose our data. We maylose access to our own information. And we may well lose oursecurity.
    11. 11. The AudienceHow are citizens and the private sector responding to themessage that hacktivists pose an imminent threat?Method: Document analysis News articles, publicsector reports and online blogs Theory: Constructivist theory
    12. 12. Emergency MeasuresWhat emergency measures are government actorspromoting in order to strengthen their nation’s securityagainst hacktivism?Method: Document analysis of government, academic,and news documents and blogs. Theory: Constructivist theory
    13. 13. ConclusionGovernment actors in the United States are in the processof securitizing hacktivism, and in particular the onlineactivism group Anonymous. They are already framinghacktivism as a form of terrorism, and highlighting thefuture potential threats to national security.
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