December 09, 2010

Note: WikiLeaks is not associated with Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation.
- note at the top of the WikiLeaks article on Wikipedia

I find it truly interesting that the current denial of service attacks on the companies which have cut off Wikileaks (Amazon, Paypal, VISA, Mastercard) and the websites of those politicians who seem to be most closely involved in trying to take down Wikileaks are not sourced in networks of 'bots. Rather, they seem to be the coordinated efforts of thousands, perhaps millions of people acting individually.

Contrary to media reports, this is not the first info-war. Wars destroy: and thus far there has been no attempt by the DoS people to damage any data on any of the targeted sites. Even when examined only as a determined attempt to take Wikileaks down (for the Wikileaks site continues to be hacker-targeted), there have been many similar attacks before: some in the news, some not. Ironically, the Wikileaks diplomatic cables confirm at least one such suspected government attack, by China on Google.

Still, the current DoS action is historically significant: as the very first ever cyber demonstration, with protesters "camping out" on the doorsteps of those against whom they are protesting and doing their utmost to disrupt business as usual simply by their massed presence. As protesters have known for generations, action speaks much more loudly than even the largest petition.

(It remains an open question whether it speaks more loudly than the ballot box. I am not at all certain whether democracy has particularly much to do with all this -- on either side.)

In passing, the Wikipedia editors have been diligently collecting and summarising the leaked information, to the point where it now has its own page.

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