‘Hacktivist’ or ‘Hacktivism’ is a term coined in 1996 by Omega (a member of Cult of the Dead Cow). They are people who ‘hack’ computers and can access all the information and data BUT they do it with the moral justification of the greater or public good. They claim their actions are those of activists.
Hacktivists always justify their actions with the belief that information should be free or that honesty is in the public interest, but I am so glad you highlighted the other important aspect: secrecy and information are crucial for national security. It’s not in the public interest to have that information leaked and public security threatened.
The government isn’t always right but it is their job to decide what is and isn’t in public interest. In their stance for the decentralization of information they are revealing information that is deliberately hidden by governments. Surely the governments’ reasons for not-disclosing the information should be considered as much as the hackers reasons behind revealing it.
There are the cases of good; where hacktivism has revealed governmental, corporation or individual corruption and scandal. There are events that get hidden out of greed or gain or guilt, there are secrets in all facets of life not just political. But every time information is ‘hacked’ our overall security and privacy are put at risk too. There are hackers who truly believe in freedom of information and justify their actions as through the pursuit of their ideals but those ‘hacktivists’ (like Anonymous and Assange) have become symbols or martyrs for the term. While they have succeeded in doing good they have allowed public perception to warp in their favour. They use the few benefits to justify the great risks they put on individual privacy, national security and international relations.
There are people who ignore laws; people who use their knowledge and skills to interrupt or corrupt the system; people who think themselves above the system don’t live outside the system. They deserve to be punished within the bounds of the law.
To me, I can’t see the justification of their cause. Anyone who threatens the nation’s security and national information is a terrorist. They are a terrorist regardless of how they try to justify their actions. They have to expect to be prosecuted one.