24 January 2013, 17:57

Taking apart and rebuilding government policy is hacktivism – interview

Taking apart and rebuilding government policy is hacktivism – interview
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Craig Rouskey, micro-biologist, citizen scientist and organizer with Occupy San Francisco spoke about his move from activism into Hacktivism and explained some of the principles involved in Hacktivism and why it may be more effective in the changing world.

Robles: You decided to move away a little bit from the Occupy activism and into Hacktivism. What are some of the reasons for your decision to do that? And is that a sign that the Occupy Movement is in decline?

Rouskey: No, I would say first a couple of things. First, the Occupy Movement is still going pretty strong. We still have a huge number of people participating in a housing justice and other issues. I myself, I’m still continuing the on-the-ground activism in the community with a group which is a rights focused group where we are working on local community issues in San Francisco, in the community. So, there’s been a lot of spin-out groups of the Occupy that are focused on specific communities.

Robles: A little bit about the Hacktivism,Now you are moving a little bit away from the normal activism into Hacktivism. In your opinion, what are some of the ways you can be more effective in that arena? And are you afraid of the severe consequences that Hacktivists face even for doing simple things like a DDoS attack?

Rouskey: I want to be very clear about some things. First of all, Hacktivism is an iterative concept, it changes whatever iteration. In its first iteration, Hacktivism was a lot of computer work, where people were breaking into systems to liberate information, which I think is a noble goal. I think it is important that information that people paid for up front, especially like scientific research, I believe that that should be liberated.

I think everyone should have access to that, especially the tax payer. We paid for that information and that research up front and we should have access to it downstream. With that said, the kind of Hacktivism I do, is actually taking apart systems, whether that’s actual physical tools or whatever, and rebuilding them in ways that are more advantageous for people.

So, some of the Hacktivism that I would consider Hacktivism is the evaluation of public policy, breaking down public policy and reforming it in a way that is actually useful and more advantageous to the community. So, it is not all computer work. I’m horrible at coding, I could never be like a computer hacker.

Robles: I think a Hacktivist can just be someone who has a blog and speaks out and gets information out to people, I mean… I think I agree with you there are different levels. You don’t have to be a cracker or a hacker to be a Hacktivist.

Rouskey: Right, exactly! I would say that the general principles of Hacktivism or the people who call themselves Hacktivists generally focus on freeing up information. I think they believe that having access to information or the tools to acquire information is a goal that we have been working towards.

I would also say that there is a general theme of decentralization which was also a main theme in the Occupy Movement, and it remains a central theme in the Occupy Movement.

And I think the other important thing is that there is like a lack of hierarchy among hacktivists. It is not about your degree, it is not about your age, your sex but anarchist decentralized principle to it, which I think is beautiful and important.

Robles: Craig, thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.

Sure, any time.

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