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"As hackers become politicized and as activists become computerized, we are going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in what will become more widely known as Electronic Civil Disobedience." Stefan Wray, 1998 Socialist Scholars Conference , March 20-22, NYC.

As Americans, we don't have a democracy, and liberty is certainly questionable. But we do have a long tradition of challenging authority.

With the American Revolution, Henry David Thoreau, and the Vietnam war, Civil Disobedience has become a house-hold concept. Our culture recognizes it as a means to ensure liberty and freedom when no other course of action is possible. The principles of Trespass and Human Blockade have become the foundation of protest in this country, and groups such as Etoy and the EDT are bringing this tradition to the Internet.

From hacked websites to FloodNet, hackers have begun to write the rules of electronic protest. These rules are based on the same concepts of trespass and human blockade, but threaten to be a universal source of grassroots power for political and artistic movements throughout the world.

Current Internet development by the governments, and more importantly, by the multinationals have redefined the terms of physical and intellectual control. In the Internet, they see the possibility of controlling population by controlling information flow within walls of commerce. While the shear complexity of informational exchange on the Internet has provided some system vulnerability, the current architecture is being overhauled. Technologies such as Biometrics and Smart Cards, legalities such as Expanded Jurisdiction, and trends such as Universal User-tracking threaten to expand the class inequities and human rights violations of the United States to global proportions.

In response to this, hacktavists are redefining the terms of resistance.

By creating the threat of violated webservers and downed networks that overshadow any corporate and governmental Internet controls, a network of small groups, nodes, or cells, that push forward can establish the means for global electronic resistance.

While protests of this sort are possible at any level on the OSI Model, the ultimate unit of the Internet is information. Currently, the most effective form of electronic protest has become informational warfare. Mimetic techniques and multicast distribution have allowed insurgents to coordinate protest actions from around the globe and focus them into singles points of protest.

While it has been reported that mainstream forces have finally overcome the grassroots traditions of the Internet, the questions remains: will mainstream forces eventually overcome the Civil Disobedience tradition of the United States?

Related Links:

Realaudio presentation by the Electronic Disturbance Theater describing their organization and the methods they use.

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