Is The Wikileaks Hacker Backlash A Threat To Net Neutrality?

When the world turned against Wikileaks, the hacking community turned against the world. However, the hackers did not simply strike back at the offending parties. Instead, they went after a financial base by attacking Mastercard and Paypal. And in doing so, the resulting action will not be seen as a warning to others about trying to suppress the open flow of knowledge, but instead, their action will be a threat against the very thing they hold dear – net neutrality. How could this be the case? Let’s take a look at the facts.

The hacker retaliation was not needed

The leaks themselves proved what the power of the free flow of information can do when it comes to military secrets. That is, the information was exposed, and it did the initial damage as planned. It sent the governments scattering to cover their bases, and the power of knowledge was in the hands of the people.

At that point all was good. Given the nature of the Internet, there was little that could be done to permanently squash the release of that information. If they shut down a server in one country, it can pop up in another.  If they discredited the data with false information, then they could release a new leak of unknown damage. The power is in the holder of the information, and this is really the ultimate position to be in.

The Wikileak threat was NOT specific to the Internet

The information that comprised the Wikileak material did not have to exist on the web to be real. It could have been sitting in a physical filing cabinet, written to a disc, published in a newspaper, or even read over a radio station and still have been damaging. The important part here is that the data itself was the crucial piece of information. The Internet was just the medium it happened to be distributed in, and it could readily make the leap to other mediums.

The hacker response IS specific to the Internet

Enter the hackers. Already at a disadvantage, the governmental powers had been pushing against WikiLeaks, only to discover the nature of the Hydra – chop off one head, and another appears in a new place. But the hackers decided that a lesson was needed, and so they mounted an attack in a place that would hurt – they went after the money. In this case it was first Mastercard and PayPal that played the target, with Visa being in line to incur the hacker wrath next.

The hacker attack is different from the Wikileaks threat in that it is born of the web itself. There is no way that the hacking could exist in said filing cabinet. No newspaper could publish the hack and have it as effective, and it is doubtful that a radio station could do anything against the other websites. In this big mess of leaked damaging information, counteractions, and counter-counteractions, the hackers drove home a singular point – the threat IS the open Internet.

Don’t mess with the financial system

In today’s world, when you go after the financial base, you are going after the real seat of power. Of course, this is why the parties involved were trying to stop Wikileaks by disrupting their money flow. By cutting off the money flow, it was thought that the leak would dry up, unable to sustain servers and bandwidth.

No doubt it occurred to the hackers to respond back in a similar fashion. But by doing so, it proved the threats to the financial base. Even though no long term harm was done, the message is clear – the hackers can disrupt the money.

With a threat to the all important financial base coming in from the open Internet, how else would the governments involved be able to respond? Would anyone expect them to sit back and do nothing? No, not when it threatens to topple the seat of power (the financials). So, it is easy to define the threat at this point – the open Internet, not the hackers contained within. Why? It is more expedient, more efficient, to do so.

Worse time for the blow to Net Neutrality

As it happens, the case for Net Neutrality has been taking some serious dings lately. Mobile data providers are seeing record data bandwidth needs, to the point that they want a good excuse to privately prioritize traffic. Now, it could be argued, it is in the best interest of the financial centers to do so.

And with the US FCC Proposal being argued by more than 80 groups that it gives too much free reign to wireless providers, it could play directly into those imagined needs. It really could be a diamond in the rough for the suffering mobile broadband companies across the world, since it gives the perfect reasoning for packet inspection and prioritization.

At this point I am not sure how the events will play out in the long run. Net Neutrality is in a fight for its life, and being seen as a threat is not going to help anything. Wikileak’s existence is not a threat to this by its nature. But when the open Internet is used to attack financial centers, it does not bode well for Net Neutrality’s future.

  14 comments for “Is The Wikileaks Hacker Backlash A Threat To Net Neutrality?

  1. Anonymous
    December 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I think it will all come out in the wash in the end!

  2. anon
    December 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    just one thing to say, please don’t call script kiddies hackers. all they did was run a simple program. that’s it. anyone can do it, but it doesn’t not mean anyone can be a hacker.


  3. Jack
    December 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    This article is filled logical fallacies such as redundant arguments and circular logic that depends on itself and is not grounded in logical facts. for example

    “With a threat to the all important financial base coming in from the open Internet, how else would the governments involved be able to respond? Would anyone expect them to sit back and do nothing? No, not when it threatens to topple the seat of power (the financials). So, it is easy to define the threat at this point – the open Internet, not the hackers contained within. Why? It is more expedient, more efficient, to do so.”

    Here the threat is redefined on a threat of open knowledge to a threat on the open internet by way of hacking financial institutions, do you really believe that hackers are attacking the open internet for a self serving reason. The government is responding to knowledge that it claims is detrimental – yet political figures have stated otherwise – to keep people in the quite, refuting the primary argument of the article, that the information is in the hands of the people. The government has targeted Assange to try and keep him him quite and make an example for others wishing to share information on the internet, hackers are proving to be the only defense for someone representing free expression and government transparency as guaranteed in Americas constitutional rights. If you think he is being prosecuted because of earlier actions you should take a look at the information regarding the dropping of the case and then all the sudden they were interested in it again, very peculiar activity. Sadly Mr. Assange is kind of a numb skull in the first place.

  4. anon
    December 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    You’s Trollin!

  5. Wolfguru
    December 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I see the author’s opinions on this as a well reasoned response, but to a superficial view of the events and the reasons behind the responses.

    First, the “attacks” on the various companies were not in themselves carried out by “Hackers”, but by a volunteer public response to the companies involved for their self-serving response to behind-the-scenes governmental pressure to treat Wikileaks as if it were a terrorist organization. No data was stolen, nor were any attempts made to do anything other than shut down the commercial “voice” of those companies acting on the behalf of the government who had no legal means to otherwise prevent willing individuals from donating to Wikilieaks in support of their efforts. Anonymous responded in kind to the actions of the companies acting to deny public access to the information, buy denying the companies access to the public themselves. The response was careful, precise, well targeted and coordinated, and effective in pointing out the activity.
    The argument about the “locale” of the information does not hold up. The internet is, for the majority of the world’s population in the developed nations, the medium of public discourse. The information in any other form would exist, but might as well not, in comparison to its impact when freely available to the majority of internet users. The message was effective because of its near-universal availability; the response was accorded the same stage on which to be portrayed.
    Net Neutrality is a commercial argument – the percieved right of the internet user to access whatever content they desire across the connectivity purchased from their provider, versus the desire of specific providers to control the content and sources of information available to the purchaser, for financial gain or for political power. The argument is in essence one of whether an ISP can charge the content provider as well as the content user, or determine the content available to the user via their connection medium.
    It might be said that the actions of the commercial interests themselves was the obvious threat to the existance of a free public discourse and an informed citizenry, at the behest of the interests that fear the exposure that Wikileaks has given their hidden agendas and activities.
    It is neither Wikileaks, nor Anonymous that has acted against the public interest in this case, but quite demonstrably the commercial and governmental entities exerting the pressure to protect their secrets which has been shown as the threat to the citizen.

  6. Dys_rhythmia
    December 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Taking part in a DDoS attack does not maen you are a hacker. Learn the meaning of terms.

  7. Fatpoops
    December 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm


    writer a troll???

  8. observer
    December 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Hackers should do what they can, while they can. The governments and their news agencies have succeeded in hiding the truth about these leaks as not 1 news channel even discusses what is in the leaks specifically. All they report is the founder of WikiLeaks being arrested for rape. Governments are removing our freedom to do what we want through any means necessary. This is just the latest. Next? Volcanic ash over Europe? Oops, thats’ been done already. Fake a terrorist attack? Remember Sep 11 2001 in NY? Who doesn’t? They use that over and over and over and over and over…

  9. nza
    December 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    wtf is net neutrality ?

  10. Sfysgiufys
    December 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    that was so poorly written, it is a fucking pathetic commentary on the weakest points of both sides of the argument

  11. Eatmyass
    December 14, 2010 at 4:54 am

    This article is teh sux! What a maroon!

  12. Jaxton
    December 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Why dont you sit back and winge about the world and corruption and continue to do absolutely nothing. I think it is people like you who are afraid inside. You want to be seen as opposing the government but when the truth needs defending, you don’t have the balls.

  13. BmoreKarl
    December 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Um. The world saw what happened to Julian Assange for his leak crusade. Perhaps some sort of defense/rally was needed lest the moral of the story end with “whistleblowers will be punished – likely on laughable charges of having sex without a condom.”

  14. Dsde
    December 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Fact is they hurt these companies through their actions…
    The companies WILL find a way to hit back in revenge?
    How? By funding lobbyists to push for control of the internet.

    Those Lobbyists will bribe the government officials into passing laws controlling the internet.

    Real smooth.

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