The Ethics of Activist DDOS Actions

A Historical Analysis

Molly Sauter

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In the world of digital activism, distributed denial of service attacks present relatively low barriers to popular participation, have a high potential for attracting large numbers of first-time and repeat participants, and can attract large amounts of media attention. But though such actions popular, are they ethical? In this talk I will be presenting an ethical framework for the analysis of activist DDOS actions. The framework is grounded in a historical analysis of various activist DDOS actions, such as the IGC attacks in Spain in the late 90s, Electronic Disturbance Theater actions in the early 2000s, and the Anonymous-led Operation Payback attacks in 2010. Each historical case study presents a unique confluence of technological, political, legal and operational factors allowing for a full spectrum of ethical analysis.