I guess nothing has been discussed in the last days more controversially than the Chaos Computer Club hack against a right wing dating website and other websites. As mentioned before, the CCC has its annual meeting these days. The point about the hack is not which websites they hacked and what they have done (for example changing pictures or adding the CCC icon to the website) in order to make the owners aware of the security risk the website contains. The hackers published the user data of the dating website users.
This time it is more about the ethical dimension than about the hacking dimension. Hacking a website and putting an icon or avatar on it to demonstrate the vulnerability is not a bad thing at all (even though probably breaking some laws). Furthermore, if the people who hacked it discuss with the victims what the vulnerability was it is fine with me and my ethical perspective. Uploading found user data in general is not very controversial. It is not only against the law but also not ethical justifiable – from my point of view.
The hack conducted from some attendees of the congress is somewhere in the middle of the thin line drawn between ethical and non-ethical way of hacking. It is true that publishing user data (sometimes including not only email but also current address) is nothing nice. Taking into consideration that the user were (according to their statements, usernames, passwords and online behaviour) right wing supporters (at least), you might change your opinion on it.
Let us exaggerate a bit. On the one hand these guys have done something good because the people using the website’s service have strong anti-democratic thoughts and favour a system in which people where denied human rights due to several stupid reasons. Everybody can have his own opinion on which is the best political system but a system linked to violation of human rights, discrimination and stupidity is simply wrong.
On the other hand we do not want our personal information made transparent by the government for their own use. Furthermore, we do not want anyone (neither Facebook nor Amazon) make our information public knowledge unless we ask them to do it. The users are citizens of this country and therefore should enjoy the same civil rights as anyone else. If they are persecuted due to involvement in fascist actions the state authority could deny them of some of their civil rights and put them into prison. No need for publishing information from this perspective. People using the service trusted the website in privacy and secrecy reasons. Trust is a major issue on the Internet, and an important one as well. Thus, from an Internet point of view, it is not good if people loses the trust in it. No need to publish information from this point of view.
Let us do what a lot of people do: Compare it to real life. The first thing that came to my mind was lynchings. No state authority does anything about the people using this service but it is obvious that all of them (or at least a lot of them) are against the state and so on. Therefore and taking the paragraph above into account, the hackers were wrong doing what they have done. Lucky for them: the comparison is wrong. The hackers did not more than turning the tools the people use to hide their identity against them.
There is nothing bad about knowing that a former criminal lives in your neighbourhood but it is wrong to discriminate him for what he has done if he says he wants to change. So there is nothing wrong about publishing personal information about people who are obviously against the current system, democracy and general human rights. Having thought some time about it, this is my personal interpretation and please do not tell me, that I would cry if it were my information. Luckily for me: I am neither against the system nor against general human rights.
According to the headline of my post I cannot resist quoting a famous German punk song:
Die Ärzte – Schrei Nach Liebe
deine Gewalt Ist Nur Ein Stummer Schrei Nach Liebe
deine Springerstiefel Sehnen Sich Nach Zärtlichkeit
du Hast Nie Gelernt Dich Artizukulieren
und Deine Freundin Die Hat Niemals Für Dich Zeit