As part of my participation in Wikistrat, I get to see some pretty brilliant debates on what can - can't - will - and (hopefully) won't happen across the geopolitical sphere.
And while the Cyber sphere of geopolitics continues to trouble many with Fear - Uncertainty - Doubt, there is one area where the general consensus of the "Good Guys" is the same:
We do not need Cyber vigilantism to become the norm
Let me preface the rest of this by saying I do not care who The Jester, The Raptor, YamaTough, Anons, etc. are. As a matter of fact across various interactions I'm fairly sure most of these people have their hearts entirely in the right places, I probably would get along just fine in real life with them, and they are otherwise interesting characters. I also don't care if any or all of them are constructs or "condoned" operations of a given Nation-State.
My problem is what messages they send "on behalf" of their respective Nation-State or Quasi-Movement-Nation-State (e.g. Anons - Occupy) hosts AND the collateral damage they create or are even victims of.
With that out of the way lets first touch briefly on what I consider to be the two biggest enablers of the "problem of" Cyber vigilantes:
- Governments have spent the past eleven years drumming up Citizen corps to treat their neighbors as suspects - breeding environments of xenophobia - and creating boutique markets of Big Brothers and Little Brothers alike.
- Governments have not fulfilled their accessibility to security obligations to their citizens - specifically the comfort of being able to "call the police" in this space and get a reasonable response.
Out of (1) the result has been a polarization of reactions to perceived threats - on one side you have an overly politically-correct to the point of being naive movement to frame every potential threat as basically non-existent and entirely a construct of the ~other~ side. And on that "other" side you have near-religious zealotry defining everything in absolute terms. In effect the environment cultivated in (1) exasperated the problem across all facets of Security.
Additionally out of (2) those people "in the middle", including many of our bravest and those most in harms way (see: Powerful Peace), have no way to get reasonable issues addressed without either risking strange retaliation and skepticism from a/the Government tasked with protecting them or the hostile adversarial groups themselves. Indeed the actual moderates, not just extremists that self-proclaim themselves moderates, become perceived as enemies at both polarized ends.
Now - I'm intentionally trying to distil this into the two biggest problems - but this is hardly comprehensive. Regardless I stand by the idea that Cyber Patriots are an inadvertent creation of, and now problem for, the host Governments.
OK, now that I've perhaps alienated everyone, let me explain my title. I fully encourage and endorse protecting what's yours on a personal and private entity level. I've been adamant that waiting for Government to solve your security problems is a losing proposition. However, this is always been in the frame of defensive security problems - not becoming the aggressor. You have to make sure you understand the line between investigating a problem passively and pursuit/action that ends tragically.
In the same way I support Gun Rights, Agorist-Voluntaryist, Libertarian, and Austrian Economics in "real" life - it all spans to my suggested cyber postures. To use a comic book cliche - With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility (my apologies to Voltaire).
You're a better Citizen, a better hero, a better Sheepdog for your community if you know where to draw the lines in your own applications of Balanced Power.
So now I'm speaking to The Jesters and The Raptors of the World...
I know, believe me I know, what it's like to head-desk-repeat when trying to get action out of an upstream Government agency. I know how frustrating it can be to see messages of hatred and threats against your Country go unanswered in all forms of media. I know what it's like to be unfairly treated by your home country. I have sinned and been sinned against. I have felt betrayed or let down by both my country of birth (Iran) and my country of heart (USA). And I have taken up "cyber arms" myself - I'm not an innocent bystander regrettably.
I also know this - This course of action gets out of hand before you realize it and the repercussions on a geopolitical level with the leaders of Nation-States will be well well WELL outside of your ability to control it. It doesn't end with forums and individual sites. It doesn't end with doxing. It doesn't end with a zero-day market - Patriot and rogue Cyberweapons Dealers.
It ends with more barriers to Internet Freedom - it ends with slowed economic integration in the regions that need it the most - it ends by further breeding an already troubling enemy-combatant Cyber Vigilante. It ends with kinetic action. It. Ends. Badly.
Let’s not replicate the sins of our Governments at our scale. Let’s not aggravate the problems Governments already face. We can hack for good, share information, integrate economically, integrate through gaming, coffee house conversations, any number of other outlets for this Patriotic energy.
There is no doubt we need a balanced approach to power, I'm not a pacifist and I don't disregard the threats radicalization online and cybercrime bring. I'm just suggesting Cyber Vigilantism is not a movement we want to support by also throwing "our" Western weight behind it.
NEXT TIME: How Governments can enable the Cyber Citizenry without breeding FUD and Vigilantism
(BTW, you all can join Wikistrat on Facebook and participate in their unique experiment. And I strongly encourage you to pickup Powerful Peace and see what happens when things get out of hand - and ideas on how to reign them back in.)
Cross-posted from Packetknife's Space