Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 marks the Rise of Online Activism. Expect more in 2012 and beyond

When one looks back at 2011, the Rise of Online Activism has been spurred on by the use of social media by netizens and the more extreme form of Hacktivism by Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec and professional paid political hackers.
Online activism has reached overwhelming proportions across the world. Regimes have been toppled in the Middle East, riots have been orchestrated in London and Indians launched a mammoth campaign for an anticorruption legislation. The power of using social media as a means of collective expression across an entire country without fear is making countries more “democratic”. Democracy in the past was the power to elect or unelect a politician to a seat in government once every five years, but now it’s about real-time and instantaneous feedback on how they are expected to serve the electorate.
Hacktivism made popular by overpowering hacks by Anonymous and Lulzsec have created an unusual amount of media attention. Hacks have targeted high profile government suppliers like Stratfor and against mega corporates like Sony which suffered 2011 largest breach with losses of over 200m$. Hacktivism was against action taken for copyright infringement, prosecution of whistleblowing (Wikileaks, Bradley Manning episode) and politics. A side effect of these campaigns exposed the weakness of Internet Security in big and small firms.
2012 will witness amplified online activism given the success that it has seen in 2011. Such protest have seen spontaneous uprising of people on common themes. Except for the Indian agitation almost all other were marred by some form of violence. Hacktivist campaigns violated cyber laws.
Netizens have begun to feel the power of the net and such campaigns will hopefully evolve into a meaningful of protest.  Hacktivism either ideological or paid will rise in the next few years. Hackers exploited by politicians to spur political agenda’s are a real danger in the future.
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