By Christian Chen, Staff Writer
DDOS is short for Distributed Denial of Service. It describes an instance where incoming traffic floods the victim, originating from various different sources. Some people believe DDOS should be illegal, seeing it as a violation of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Others do not, instead viewing it as a valid form of protest. People are divided amongst this issue, but let’s look at the facts, shall we?
Author Molly Sauter argues that DDOS is a legitimate form of protest. Her book, “The Coming Storm,” indicates that DDOS has been used in support of various political organizations. She claims, “Actions that take place in the online sphere can only ever infringe on privately held property. The architecture of the network does not, as of yet, support spaces held in common.”
Another supporter of DDOS being used as a method of protest, Juan Soberanis, claimed that DDOS is no different than public demonstrations in front of the White House.
However, not everybody agrees. Mark Sauter (not related to Molly Sauter) claims that if people can DDOS the White House with impunity, they may be looking at Exxon, too. Furthermore, the Police and Justice Act of 2006 points out that people are guilty if they commit an unauthorized act with a computer with the intention of impairing that computer’s operation, hindering data access, or both. This also counts if a person is reckless enough to commit an act that will do any of the above. Others argue that there are loopholes in the law. Section 3A of the Computer Misuse Act, enforced on October 1, 2008, prohibits the “use of an application that is used to commit DDOS.” The loophole here is that merely possessing software on a computer that is capable of DDOS is not illegal. However, once that software is used to attack a website, a crime has been committed. Furthermore, someone could make the case that a crime has been committed if the person willingly attacks a website and is well-aware of the legal repercussions that follow.
Still, proponents of criminalizing DDOS maintain that DDOS is unethical, unrighteous and immoral. It could also be seen as a form of censorship and a violation of people’s freedom of speech. What if people lost their jobs in a DDOS attack? The perpetrators of such acts are terrorists, criminals, and just plain fools.
My take on this is quite straightforward: DDOS is illegal, yes. However, others could see it as a view of vigilante justice. Furthermore, I can understand why people believe that DDOS is a protest method, though I would argue that it doesn’t look ethical. Even if the person had genuine good intentions behind the act, it could cause unintended collateral damage and henceforth be classified as a criminal act. I would agree that DDOS could be considered a form of vandalism, but then again, other people may not. I personally see it as people taking justice into their own hands all over again and is totally unethical.
If people have a problem with websites they do not like, they could simply choose not to visit them instead of taking the law into their own hands and destroying the website themselves. To do so would infringe on human free choice, and that, to me, is just plain wrong.