19.612 Google

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of David Gants) <dgants_at_ROGERS.COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 23:13:00 -0400

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 612.
      Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                    Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

        Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 23:09:10 -0400
        From: <sramsay_at_uga.edu>
        Subject: 19.610 Google
On Fri, Feb 17, 2006 at 07:18:47PM -0400, Humanist Discussion Group (by way
of David Gants) wrote:
> Surely there are world class hackers at the various universities where
> most of the Humanist subscribers reside. The software and hardware used
> by the Chinese government couldn't be any better than that offered by
> most vendors. Rather than writing trivial viruses to annoy millions of
> users, why shouldn't they try to do something that is a real benefit to
> others?
> Perhaps graduate seminars on breaking censorship firewalls, free
> software to avoid them (perhaps embedded in commercial/free software) or
> academic prizes for the same?
> Very little change is accomplished with remembering or concern. A good
> deal may be accomplished by action.
> As individuals we may lack the skills to take action ourselves, but we
> certainly could seek out and support those who do.

Speaking as someone who most definitely posesses the skills to take
down a Chinese firewall . . .

Let's be careful here.

It's astonishing how many U.S. laws I need to break in order to do
this. In fact, the minute I start, I've already broken the terms of
service of my internet provider (possibly exposing myself to a
lawsuit). Since I'm obviously not going to launch an attack that's
traceable to me, I'm going to need to go "own" someone else's server
as a dodge. Am I to understand that your organization, Patrick, has
no trouble with me illegally gaining access to their servers?
Because otherwise, I'm probably going to install a rootkit on your
machine and destroy your logs. It's for a good cause, after all.

Of course, there are other good causes. Maybe you want to fight
globalization or corporate America. Maybe you don't like people who
patent software. Maybe you don't like organized religion. Or
the war in Iraq. Or Danish newspapers.

One thing is for sure. You better believe in your cause, because
hacking can land you in jail, whether your hat is white or black.
There are plenty of people in federal prison right now who went to
jail despite having caused no damage to anyone's systems or data --
they just gained "unlawful access." And many of them went to jail
before there was a Department of Homeland Security declaring
"hacking" to be one of the top five greatest threats to national
security in the US.

Am I appalled by what's going on in China? Yes I am. And I do
believe in action -- even the kind that can land you in jail. But
everyone should be clear about the enormous risks involved with
doing this kind of thing. It's about far more than knowing how to
do it. You also have to understand thoroughly the dire consequences
that can result from your actions.


Stephen Ramsay
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Georgia
email: sramsay_at_uga.edu
web: http://cantor.english.uga.edu/
PGP Public Key ID: 0xA38D7B11
Received on Fri Feb 17 2006 - 22:25:01 EST

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