What Does Free Speech and Internet Hacking Have in Common?

Do you agree that Americans have the right to protest and civil disobedience?

How does hacking play into civil disobedience?

We’ve all heard the warnings about the Internet. As more and more of our world moves to the World Wide Web, the fear of people accessing that information becomes more and more of a threat. Some hackers have taken it to a new level by using their ability to hack as a way to demonstrate civil disobedience and protests.

According to the Huffingtonpost.com,

In response to PayPal’s decision to cut off donations to the whistleblower site Wikileaks, Anonymous encouraged supporters to download software that bombards websites with traffic, causing them to crash. The resulting “denial of service attack,” which brought down PayPal’s site intermittently over four days, was nicknamed “Operation Avenge Assange” in reference to the Wikileaks founder.”

The “PayPal 14” now faces up to 20 years in prison. The group consists of single moms, a military vet, and a message therapist. After two years, last week the PayPal 14 attended a closed door meeting that is the beginning of the end.

However, there is much controversy surrounding the law, The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act-in, which the PayPal 14 were arrested under. Those against the law say that it is too broad and excessive in its punishment.

For many of the PayPal 14, their goal was just to support Wikileaks and they may not have even known what they were clicking on when they joined in the shutting down of PayPal.

So the debate becomes how far does freedom of speech go? What if the same people sat down in the offices of PayPal and refused to move for 4 days, prohibiting PayPal from operating? Is that different?