posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 17th Jun 2011 18:49 UTC
IconOh boy, what do we make of this? We haven't paid that much attention to the whole thing as of yet, but with a recent public statement on why they do what they do, I think it's about time to address this thing. Yes, Lulz Security, the hacking group (or whatever they are) that's been causing quite a bit of amok on the web lately.

These guy(s) and/or girl(s) have really been tearing it up lately. They've been hacking Sony, PBS, Fox, several porn websites, the servers for EVE Online (well, finally some action in that spreadsheet of a 'game'), League Of Legends, and Minecraft, the FBI, the CIA - and that's just the stuff we know. These guys even have a hotline where you can ask them to hack a specific target.

And now, they (or he, or she - whatever) have put out a statement explaining why they do what they do. The general gist? They just want to cause mayhem - or lulz. Yeah, I guess the name kind of gave them away there. There is some actual justification for their actions in there, but even that, they admit, is just a crock of nothing.

For what it's worth, they argue that it doesn't really matter if they hack and release a load of information about people - even without them, people are still hacking away at such information. At least Lulz Security, so they argue, goes public with it, so that you know you're not safe. Most other groups and individuals keep such information for themselves for nefarious purposes.

And this is the bit where it gets interesting. The thing is - most of the mayhem attributed to Lulz Security isn't actually perpetrated by them at all. You see, Lulz 'only' released 60000 email addresses and passwords out in the public - they didn't actually use said information. Others did.

Other people have started using these 60000 email addresses and passwords to 'hack' other accounts associated with those email addresses, since people tend to use the same password on different websites and services. Facebook accounts, PayPal accounts, and so on - they're being used maliciously by non-Lulz people... For the 'lulz'. Ars has a few examples.

Before you reach for the comment button to tell me I'm an idiot for defending Lulz - I'm not defending them. I think what they're doing is wrong and they should be held accountable for it. However, isn't it interesting to see how many people jump at the opportunity to abuse the power given to them by Lulz and the 60000 email address and passwords? It's Milgramesque, baby.

Of course, the comparisons to Anonymous are easy to make, but they generally fall foul. Insofar you can speak of Anonymous as a group, they at least had (in my opinion) very valid reasons to go after MasterCard, PayPal, and others who buckled under US government pressure to block WikiLeaks. Intention and reasoning are very much important to establish context; jumping in front of a tank near a military base in the US will get you rightfully in trouble - doing the same thing on a certain square with a difficult name in a certain totalitarian country will get you praise. Context matters.

A concern is that the actions of Lulz will give governments the world over leverage to further regulate the web. This argument may make sense, but the fact of the matter is that governments want control over the web anyway - Lulz or no. It is in governments' natures to control where it is not needed, to regulate what doesn't need regulating, and to bureaucratise that which is efficient. The internet is a threat to the establishment, Lulz or no.

"Nobody is truly causing the Internet to slip one way or the other, it's an inevitable outcome for us humans. We find, we nom nom nom, we move onto something else that's yummier. We've been entertaining you 1000 times with 140 characters or less, and we'll continue creating things that are exciting and new until we're brought to justice, which we might well be," Lulz states, "But you know, we just don't give a living fuck at this point - you'll forget about us in 3 months' time when there's a new scandal to gawk at, or a new shiny thing to click on via your 2D light-filled rectangle."

As much as I think Lulz need to be brought to justice, I at least commend the group for their honesty. "This is the Internet, where we screw each other over for a jolt of satisfaction. There are peons and lulz lizards; trolls and victims. There's losers that post shit they think matters, and other losers telling them their shit does not matter," the group ends their statements, "In this situation, we are both of these parties, because we're fully aware that every single person that reached this final sentence just wasted a few moments of their time."

And... Well, it's hard to ague with that.

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