[sf-lug] Black hats declare war on Scientology

Asheesh Laroia asheesh at asheesh.org
Fri Jan 25 18:58:21 PST 2008

On Fri, 25 Jan 2008, Christian Einfeldt wrote:

> hi


> On Jan 25, 2008 4:41 PM, Asheesh Laroia <asheesh at asheesh.org> wrote:
>> On Fri, 25 Jan 2008, Christian Einfeldt wrote:
>>> I would like to see Scientology be exposed for the murders and fraud 
>>> they have perpetrated.  And a small part of myself likes to see 
>>> Anonymous stick it to them.  But illegal means are still illegal 
>>> means, even if deployed against bad guys, and so I try to not take joy 
>>> in seeing Scientology's servers get hammered by Anonymous.  Some 
>>> things are just wrong, even if done for the right reasons.
>> I'd like to just point out that morality ("some things are just wrong") 
>> and legality ("illegal means are still illegal means") are very 
>> different things.
> But in this case, the DDOS attacks that Anonymous is mounting against 
> Scientology is both immoral and illegal, at least in my opinion.  I 
> don't know the statutes in question, but I think that we can all agree 
> that a DDOS attack is illegal.  It is also immoral to DDOS a site, 
> because it amounts to cyberbullying.

Sounds right.  I just want to be clear that they're separate things that 
are both true in this case.

The rest of your email is generally reasonable, and you're more 
knowledgeable about the details of this Scientology issue and Digg 
situation than I am.

>> This country has had many laws, and some of those laws were considered 
>> immoral over time and repealed.  Some of those laws are considered 
>> immoral and never repealed.
> Right, and that is a failure of justice that needs to be addressed on a 
> case-by-case basis.  But the failure of justice in a few cases is no 
> justification for vigilanteism.

>> Legality can have something to do with fairness, of course; using only 
>> legal means against an opponent can be an indication that you want a 
>> fair fight with them.  But let's not confuse the legality of the means 
>> of Anonymous with the "wrongness" (morality) of the means of Anonymous.
> Are you saying that Anonymous is right to DDOS Scientology's servers?

No, to be clear - that's not what I'm saying.  (In fact, I was careful not 
to say that because it's not what I mean.)  I'm speaking generally about 
why one might act lawfully, since it is a choice after all.

>> Judge him
> Them.  "We are Legion.  We are Anonymous.  We do not forgive.  We do not 
> forget.  Expect us."


> Not someone you want to cross.  They really are nothing more than thugs.
> Fortunately for now, they are thugs with principles:  they are attacking
> Scientology because of the murders Scientology has committed and because
> Scientology is attacking the openness of the Internet.  But there were some
> threats made on Digg by people claiming to be Anonymous saying, basically,
> "Don't cross us or your home PC will be next."  That is creeping fascism.

Not entirely unlike murdering people and getting away with it.

> I really like it that Anonymous has gotten sufficiently pissed off to made a
> public declaration of war on Scientology.  And Anon has a multifacetted
> approach to fighting Scientology:  like Hamas or the Black Panthers, Anon is
> engaged in legal means such as negative PR and posting videos and documents
> to the Internet.  That is awesome.  My only complaint against Anon is that
> they are using DDOS attacks

If they're not automated, I don't think they qualify as illegal.  I am, of 
course, not a lawyer.

Also, posting videos and documents that were to the Internet could easily 
be a copyright violation.  As I understand it, it would have been 
considered an open-shut coprygith violation until OPG v. Diebold 
<http://www.eff.org/cases/online-policy-group-v-diebold>; also, look for 
my name on that page....

> harvesting private Scientology bank accounts and SS numbers and birth 
> dates of Scientologists and spreading that on the Internet.

ChoicePoint does this on me, and routinely sells this information to 
others.  As far as I know it's not illegal to host and spread birth dates 
and SSNs, as far as I know.

It might be being a jerk, or even immoral.  That's why I want to make sure 
the ideas are separated in yours and readers' minds.

>> I know someone who wrote a haiku about how to decode DVDs; combined with a
>> compiler for the poem into C, this action is illegal, but I don't think
>> the action is wrong.
> Yeah, but there is a difference between helping people decode DVDs and 
> hammering someone's server, don't you think?  I still wouldn't help 
> anyone decode DVDs because I live in the US, where that is a crime, I 
> *think*, or at least a tort.

As far as I know, it is a crime.  If you read the archives of this list, 
you might find me advising people to ("perhaps" illegally) remove DRM from 
music they own to make possible a transition away from Windows.

However, I did *not* claim that hammering someone else's server and 
writing poetry about DVD decoding are the same thing.  All I claimed was 
that the latter is an example of a time when illegal and immoral aren't 
the same.

So, all in all:

* We largely agree the issues in this particular case, but anyway that's 
not the discussion I'm really interested in having;

* I just want to be clear that "illegal" and "immoral" aren't conflated.

-- Asheesh.

Remember that there is an outside world to see and enjoy.
 		-- Hans Liepmann

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