The Role of the (H)Ac(k)tivist

The Role of the (H)Ac(k)tivist

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8876-4.ch004
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Non-government activist organizations have taken on a new role in the war against terror online. Groups such as Anonymous and InfoSec are notorious “protectors” of internet freedoms and have taken the rise of ISIS and other terror organizations in their space, perhaps more seriously than the government. What is the role of these so-called vigilante groups who are working on behalf of good but are not the government?
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The previous chapter illuminated the necessity of Western governments to coordinate with one another in order combat the spread and strengthening of global jihadism. Yet there is also an underlying need to involve community, religious (most importantly, Muslim groups), and other civil society organizations that are not connected to the government formally, but are carrying the torch for the government through dialogue with potential recruits and disseminators of Islamic State ideology, particularly online. However, there remains many ethical questions about the tactics that some non-governmental organizations are using to combat extremism in social networks, namely that of the hacktivist community. While groups like Anonymous and GhostSec are working to dismantle the Islamic State’s ability to fluidly recruit and communicate on their relied upon networks, their tactics are not endorsed by the governments in most Western countries, are typically illegal. Governments like the United States have targeted hacker groups, such as Anonymous and their members for their disregard for cyber law as well as for their unorthodox tactics that range from trolling political officials and corporations, to distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) that shut down website accessibility with a push of a button. So, although hacktivist groups are on the side of internet freedom, which happens to coincide with the governments’ desire to remove Islamic State ideology from social media and the internet entirely, what role should the non-governmental sector play in fighting an international digital war?

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