Hacking for Democracy

Hacking for Democracy

Subverting censorship in countries like China takes some
ingenuity. Oxblood Ruffin, founder of the group Hacktivismo,
infiltrates the fortress of those countries’ Internet monitoring
and firewalls with artful secrecy and supplies restricted
information to anyone willing to risk the consequences. Ruffin
shares the nuances of this political hacking with Mark Moyes of
Shift.com.

Ruffin doesn’t consider Hacktivismo to be a social justice group.
Rather, its basic mission is to preserve various Internet rights
and freedoms– the Hacktivismo declaration is founded on the
Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ‘It’s article 19 of both of
those documents that talks about what we call information rights —
the ability to access information, regardless of how that
information might be transmitted,’ Ruffin says.

But part of this process has included devising such stealthy tools
as Camera/Shy, a Web-based application that lets users hide content
(such as text) within an image, therefore allowing restricted
material to slip past filtering software.

Using such applications obviously puts the receiver in danger, and
Ruffin says he has struggled with the ethics involved in offering
the service. But then, says Ruffin, ‘A lot of people get confused
by technology and they think that it’s very different than the real
world. Anybody who’s afraid to go to a street demonstration or is
somehow on state’s radar is not going to be using anything that we
produce.’
–Julie Madsen
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Related links
Hactivismo
NetIQ claims detects Hacktivismo tool,
by ComputerWire, The Register

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