Stateless Players and the Ethics of Going After Sociopathic Hackers


Does the United States government have a right to seek out and eliminate threats from stateless individuals (or citizens of other countries who act in a manner which is "stateless")? Does the United States government have a right to look at irrational, destructive acts as warlike? Should we use traditional or non-traditional means to fight this kind of thing?

Somehow, I just don't think the people involved here quite know what they're doing:
The LulzSec group of rogue hackers are threatening to steal classified information from governments, banks and other high-ranking establishments, in what would be an escalation of their cyber attacks.

So far LulzSec's publicized assaults on Sony Corp, the CIA, News Corp's Fox TV and other targets have mostly resulted in temporary disruptions of some websites and the release of user credentials.
But now, LulzSec says it is teaming up with the Anonymous hacker activist group to cause more serious trouble.
"Government hacking is taking place right now, behind the scenes," LulzSec said on Monday in a message posted on Twitter, the microblogging site where the group has cultivated more than 210,000 followers.
LulzSec had said last Friday that it hacks to have fun and to warn people that personal information is not safe in the hands of Internet companies. But two days later, Lulz said its top priority was to leak "classified government information, including email spools and documentation."
It's great that they are good with computers and can exploit networks. This fundamental belief that they can just act in this manner without having to face the consequences is what troubles me. We have a highly-skilled group of individuals trying to do serious damage to the infrastructure of companies and governments. The idea that these governments and companies are going to remain bumbling fools and are not going to obliterate these people (legally or otherwise) is laughable. Nothing terrifies a bureaucracy more than an irrational actor. Nothing affects the bottom line more than humiliation. The reactions that we might see could very well remain within the rule of law, which is fine. I don't think we need to go beyond that.

Here's what the various hacker organizations (if they really exist as organizations) are good at--exploiting weaknesses in computer systems and networks. They're very good at it, and they have come to believe themselves capable of doing tremendous acts of note. The media fuels the attention paid to them, and then the need to top their last act takes over.

Here's what the United States government has gotten really good at over the past decade or so--paying people large sums of money for information on how to find and kill people. Look it up.

I hope it doesn't come to such a thing, but it very well could.
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