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1/11/2013
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Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech

Hacktivist collective Anonymous petitions the White House to make DDoS attacks part of First Amendment protections. Shutdown attacks are akin to Occupy protests, group argues.

Can the Anonymous hacktivist collective hack the First Amendment?

A petition filed this week with the White House seeks to decriminalize distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, making them a legal form of protesting. In other words, it would extend the First Amendment's protections to protect people's right to disrupt websites.

"Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), is not any form of hacking in any way," claims the "We The People" petition request. "It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any 'occupy' protest."

According to the petition, "instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time." The petition also calls for anyone jailed for a DDoS-related crime to be immediately released, and the related charges to be expunged from people's arrest records.

[ For the latest on the ongoing John McAfee saga, see McAfee Strikes Back: Spyware Sting Targets Belize Government. ]

While the identity of the person who created the petition is partially anonymized -- it's ascribed to "Dylan K" of Eagle, Wis. -- members of the Anonymous collective are clearly backing the petition. "We Need Your Signature! Make, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), a legal form of protesting," read a Friday YourAnonNews Twitter post.

For the White House to respond to the petition, the request needs to garner 25,000 signatures by Feb. 6. By Friday morning, however, the petition had received only about 2,000 signatures.

The First Amendment enshrines both the right to freedom of speech and "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The DDoS petition, then, implies that current laws should be updated to protect people's right to disrupt websites. "With the advance in internet techonology (sic), comes new grounds for protesting," reads the petition.

The request highlights the fact that that there are currently different rules governing website shutdowns vs. interrupting businesses in the real world. For example, in many Western countries, protestors can choke the entrance to a business -- or even city streets -- for a few hours, and it's legal. "And the digital equivalent of that, a DDoS attack that takes a website offline for a few hours, is illegal," said Mandiant VP Grady Summers at last year's RSA conference in San Francisco. The prosecutions of numerous people involved in DDoS attacks -- or in some readings, protests -- further makes that clear.

If the petition gathers sufficient signatures, and the White House responds, would DDoS fans have any chance of seeing website disruptions get classified as a form of protest? Most likely Congress would need to pass a law that protects DDoS attacks as a form of free speech. Given that federal legislators can't even agree on a bill to protect people's privacy rights online, good luck scheduling a DDoS discussion.

In the meantime, law enforcement officials will no doubt continue to prosecute DDoS attacks. But FBI officials have said they're not unaware of concerns over people's right to protest online, and emphasized they're required by law to protect people's civil liberties, including online.

"That is a huge concern for us ... and there are a number of challenges associated with this," said Eric Strom, unit chief for the Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit Cyber Division at the FBI, at last year's RSA conference. One of the chief challenges, he said, is that many people who launch DDoS attacks are minors.

How does the bureau gauge when online speech or protests cross a legal line? "If they're just complaining about something, or an issue, they have every right to do that and certainly we don't have a problem with that," he said. "It's when they take that step across the line, to make a point ... [and] they hack into a system, or go after say someone in law enforcement and their families … obviously we're going to take a big interest."

Hack.me is a free platform to build, host and share simple and complex vulnerable Web applications. Find out more about it in this free Black Hat webcast on Jan. 17, with Armando Romeo, founder of eLearnSecurity.

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jerrynesmith
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jerrynesmith,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:06:59 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
I thought this (DDoS as Freedom of Speech) a ridiculous notion. But I thought the same of corporations' having protected freedom of speech as a person and freedom of speech being spending unlimited money on political campaigns and remaining anonymous.
lgaryHB
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lgaryHB,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:17:01 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
At the risk of being attacked by Anonymous, I would argue that their premise is cute, but flawed. An Occupy protest sits on public property outside of the established business. Were they to enter the business they are protesting, they would be violating laws on the books, not exercising free speech rights. Also, business is still being conducted inside the premises. DDoS attacks are not by definition staying on the public square, but are entering the established online business site. You cannot knock on the door of an online web page without entering. The attacker might also be violating that business or individual's free speech rights by blocking the web page from being presented in the public internet. And if you were to repeatedly knock on a real business's door thousands of times a second, you would be subject to harassment charges if not trespassing. That is not speech nor is it peaceable assembly.
irishutopia
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irishutopia,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:21:26 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
hmm...an interesting spin on the idea, but wouldn't this lead to everyone throwing down random DDoS attacks in the name of protest?
Robert
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Robert "DocSalvage" Watson,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 11:28:41 AM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Unless you can get quite a few others to freely use their computers in a coordinated attack, thus making it "distributed", then the target site will be able to thwart it pretty easily... automatically even.

One person with a picket sign (one computer launching a denial attack) does not much of a protest make. The more people join a protest, the more valid and effective it is.

The hijacking of computers for the bot-net seems clearly illegal to me though. A lot like taking hostages to use as human shields.

Perhaps then, it's a misnomer with consequences to call these "DDoS attacks," as those may be a valid 21st Century exercise of FoS. Instead, it is the computer hijackings that are the crime and, due to their number, might justify a fairly stiff sentence.
Brittany
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Brittany,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2013 | 5:22:55 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Wow, this is something else. It's one thing to protest and picket outside of business but doing so is not going to cost a company thousands of dollars in lost business like an outage would. Maybe a few customers walk away to avoid the protest but a DDOS is so much more destructive. What will they think of next?
ikeman
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ikeman,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:25:41 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Doesn't DDoS imply that several compromised systems were required to make this so-called protest? By doing so, they are implicitly including other people in the protest who may not agree with the protest, and they've hacked their computers...sorry, they need to rethink that argument, unless all the computers involved to create the DDoS attack are all their own computers. Plus, protesting should be one person to one protest ratio, not one person can make thousands of the same protest ratio.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:35:33 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Good point. Unless the owners of all the machines used agreed to participate in the DDoS attack, the attackers are engaging in what amounts to burglary and hijacking (regardless of what the law may happen to say).
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 9:47:55 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Yeah, I think several people here have it right: it might be legitimate if a DDoS attack involves hundreds of thousands of people trying to access a site simultaneously in a coordinated protest, but it's another matter when a handful of people (maybe just one?) use botnets. I can appreciate why the notion of corporate personhood makes the petition emotionally attractive in certain contexts, and I think there's a line to be drawn somewhere-- but, as Mathew points out, good luck if you expect the current Congress to find it.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 6:32:12 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Right!

...and setting off Molotov cocktails is covered by the right to keep and bear arms!

I agree that corporate political expenditures aren't free speech either (as the late Justice Hugo Black famously said, "Speech is speech"), but dubious Supreme Court precedents are no excuse.

DDoS attacks are harassment, not speech.
Nyuk
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Nyuk,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 7:05:27 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
After seeing the faces of IT execs hearing that they are being attacked I'd go further to classify them as terrorism.

Release the drones on them! (At risk of having them taken over. ;-)
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 12:10:51 AM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Now that's crazy. It's one thing to sabotage a computer system; it's quite another to deliberately kill or injure people to further one's political goals.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 7:23:21 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
My colleague at Dark Reading, Kelly Jackson Higgins, points out that this same issue came up at the most recent DefCon conference. Read more about it: http://www.darkreading.com/dat...

Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek
JerryJ
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JerryJ,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 7:23:51 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
lgaryHB is spot on. DDoS is not freedom of speech, it's criminal tresspass. As for jail time, the members of anonymous are civil disobedients (well, some of them are, the others are just bored or in it for kicks). A civil disobedient's duty is to submit to the punishment prescribed by law.
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 7:51:35 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
What a load of BS. What these self-righteous jerks are saying that they should be able to exercise their freedom of speech by denying somebody else's their's.
jerrynesmith
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jerrynesmith,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 9:17:06 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
Kinda like corporations drowning out the voices of real people by exercising their "freedom of speech" more loudly, more often and by contributing more money and being more influential than any real person can possibly be.
slimj091
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slimj091,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/12/2013 | 5:26:22 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
"Anonymous" are mostly 13 to 15 year old boy's. do we really give two fucks about the speech rights of a bunch of kids who's idea of great comedy is lol dong's?
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 11:47:50 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
So breaking other peoples stuff is free speech? What are they smoking?
slimj091
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slimj091,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/12/2013 | 5:22:45 PM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
DDoS attacks suppress free speech. the attack is no more free speech than me screaming in someone's face who is trying to have an intelligent debate with me.
COCOBEINGHACKEDANDROBBED
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COCOBEINGHACKEDANDROBBED,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 3:16:12 AM
re: Anonymous Says DDoS Attacks Like Free Speech
ANONYMOUS HACKERS,IS -ŠOBAMA WITH THEM ? -ŠOR WILL HE DO SOMETHING. -Š HE KNOWS THEY SHOULD BE ARRESTED. BUT FOR SURE BUSH JUNIOR, BERNAKE, PAULSEN, CLINTONS, ILLUMINATI, KKK, GENERAL ROSIER, LARS HUBINETTE, BILL TRINCHE VAN BOETZELAER, MARK FORSTEIN, IZAK SCHWEITZ MOSSADE, JIM EDWIN TEAGUE, MARC BARRY, HIS MOTHER LADY SARAH BARRY, ALL A CONSPIRACY , GANGSTERS, THIEVES. GET RID OF THE OPPRESSORS, DELIVER US OF THE ABUSE.
LOOK -Šhttp://www.thenewamerican.com/...

LOOK http://americanfreepress.net/?...

STANDARD CHARTER IN HK WITH LARS HUBINETTE AS TOP BANKER AND GENERAL ROSIER, THIEF OF RAVI RACH, CROOKED STEPHANIE CHASE, USING MY SIGNSTURE AND COMPANY AND FRAUDULENTLY POCETING MY MONEY EDUARDO SEVERINO, WITH ROMEO MILES, AND OTHERS LISTED ABOVE. -ŠTHEY ARE LAUNDERING MONEY WITH NATWEST BANK AND ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND PUT BANKERS ON CELL PHONES AND ROBBED ME BUT RAVI IT S COMING DONT WORRY, YOU WILL NOT TAKE IT TO PARADISE ALL OF YOU. -Š
ALL BROKERS ARE ROBBED BY THE ANONYMOUS AND YOU PASS THROUGH THE HANDS OF -ŠGANGSTERS -ŠROZIER AND HUBINETTE. MARK FORSTEIN AND HIS LAWYER BEST FRIEND JAY,, JIM TEAGUE, MARC BARRY, LADY SARAH BARRY, BILL TRINCHE VAN BOETZELAER, IZAK SCHWEITZ AND THE AGENCIES AND PRESIDENTS THAT ASSIST AND THE BANKS PASSING THE TRANSACTIONS. WHERE IS MY 22B, MY 44B AND ALL THE MONEY YOU ROBBED FROM ME AND ALL THE BROKERS IN THE FINANCAL WORLD. -Š
GANGSTERS. YOU TAKE SINGLE MOTHERS AND PUT A MESSAGE IN ALL THE BANKS AND WITH TRADERS THAT I CANT GET PAID ON DEALS AND THAT AFTER YOU ROBBED ME OF TRILLIONS. I DONT NEED MONEY TO COME AFTER YOU, THE WORLD SEES AND UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS GOING ON I JUST HAVE TO BRING A LITTLE CLARITY AS TO WHO ARE THE CONTROLS -ŠON THE HACKING AND WHO IS CONSPIRING. SING YOUR DEVILISH ILLUMINATI SONG ON UTUBE, DEVIL WORSHIPPERS AND GOD SHOWED ME WITH YOUR BLACK HATS THAT YOU ARE ALSO PART OF THE KKK. DESTROY THE WICKED SAYS GOD, TAKE THEM DOWN, THEY MEAN EVIL FOR OUR WORLD, FOR OUR CHILDREN AND THEIR FUTURE, FOR THE NATIONS, REMOVE THEM, PICK THEM UP, IT IS TIME. WE HAVE EVIDENCE AND MANY EVEN PEOPLE WHO WORKED FOR AGENCIES HAVE BROUGHT EVIDENCE BUT THESE EVIL GANGSTERS PAY AGENCIES SO ALL COMPLAINTS, ALL EVIDENCE IS PUT IN THE GARBAGE. GET THEM BEFORE ITS TOO LATE. IS OBAMA PART OF THEM OR WILL HE DO SOMETHING. -ŠA PRESIDENT SHOULD NOT ALLOW THE ABUSE THAT IS HAPPENING UNLESS HE HIMSELF IS WITH THEM. -ŠSO WE ARE WAITING ARREST THEM. SHOW THE WORLD YOU ARE NOT WITH THEM.LOOK AT THAT CLINTON WOMAN SHE WORKS FOR HIM AND ROBBED US WITH THEM.

PEOPLE, PEOPLE BE CAREFUL, THESE ARE GANGSTERS WORSE THAN THE MAFIA, WORSE THAN ALL YOU HAVE SEEN. THEY ARE SETTING US UP SO BEHINDTHEY CAN CONTINUE TO ROB AND CONTROL. LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO THE WORLD. WHERE ARE ALL THE QUADRILLIONS THEY STOLE, WHICH BANKS HID THE FUNDS, WHAT COMPANIES, NUMBERED COMPANES, ENTITIES.WHICH BANKS GREW SO FAST BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED ENORMOUS FUNDS, HUGE TRANSACTIONS. -Š ALL OUR GOLD TRANSACTIONS, MTNS, BGS, IRON ORE, PPP, ALL THEY HAVE ROBBED ILLEGALY. WE DEMAND JUSTICE NOW BEFORE ITS TOO LATE. THEY MURDER EVERYONE THAT SPEAK THE TRUTH. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY THEY KILLED.-Š

WHERE IS THEIR FRIEND EX RESIDENT EVIL PRES BUSH, AND CLINTONS AND BERNAKE AND ALL THAT ARE WITH THEM.
ASK BUSH WHY HE ROBS A SINGLE MOM AND HE WILL PUT YOU IN THE BORDER AS A TERRORIST. -ŠYOU ARE A JEW BUT THEY PUT YOU AS A TERRORIST EVEN BORDER PATROL STAY PERPLEXED AND TELL ME THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND. -Š -Š

THEY USE THE POWER FROM ROBBING ALL -ŠOUR MONEY SO NOW THEY HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN WE DO.
JUSTICE -ŠJUSTICE -ŠJUSTICE -ŠJUSTICE WHERE ARE YOU?

WHO WILL STOP THE NIGHTMARE. -Š
WE DEMAND LIBERATION FROM EVIL. -Š

BECAUSE THEY ALLOWED ANONYMOUS WHICH ARE GOV GUYS AND OTHERS WITH THEM TO ENTER ALL OUR PHONES AND COMPUTERS, EVEN YOUR CAR HAS A BOX AND THEY CAN LISTEN TO ALL. NOW THAT THEY ARE ABOUT TO GET CAUGHT THEY WANT TO MAKE IT LAW. THEY WANT TO MAKE A LAW THAT THE EX PRESIDENTS THST GANGSTERIZED AND ROBBED AND KILLED WILL NOT BE PROSECUTED. AND MIRE.
WAIT THE ARMIES ARE COMING IN TO PICK YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN UP. HITLER IS REVIVED IN THEM.

GUYS PLEASE WAKE UP!WE ARE BEING TRICKED, THEY ARE MAKING ALL THE BANKS WITH A SKY REMOTE CONTROL AND ONE OF THE TOP GUYS HACKING IN OUR COMPUTERS PART OF THE ANONYMOUS HACKERS LARS HUBINETTE WITH GENERAL ROSER LWR AND THE ANONYMOUS ARE INSTALLING THIS SYSTEM. ALL TREASURIES, ALL BANKS AND ALL OF US WILL BE REMOTELY CONTROLLED. DONT YOU UNDERSTAND ANONYMOUS ARE THE GARBAGES THAT ARE SOME PART OF AGENCIES AND OTHERS AND ALL THE CABAL AND THEY ARE HERE TO CONTROL US AND DESTROY US. WELCOME TO THE NEW CONCENTRATION CAMPS, FORCED LABOUR AND EXACTLY WHAT THE ILLUMINATIES WANT CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL.. THAT IS WHY THEY DID NOT ALLOW US BROKERS TO GET PSID, THEY ROBBED OUR DEALS, OUR COMMISSIONS, OUR TRADES AND ALL TODAY THEY HAVE THE MONEY AND THINK THEY CNTROL ALL AND AVE POWER. GOD IS THE POWER THEY ARE GANGSTERS. WAKE UP PEOPLE, WAKE UP.
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