I’ve been reading a book called We Are Anonymous, by Forbes journalist Parmy Olson. It’s about the Anonymous hacker collective and their various off-shoots, and one of the things that comes across in the book is that the majority of the hacks carried out by these groups were opportunistic attacks carried out ‘for shits and giggles’, that were retro-actively justified by citing causes like internet freedom.
And reading the recent NSA revelations I kinda get the same vibe. Did US intelligence really need to hack the cellphones of its closest allies, or steal data from the networks of its largest technology companies? The post-hoc justification is always 9/11: there are bad guys out there and the intelligence community is keeping us all safe from them. But I do wonder how big a role the techno-geek ethos of ‘Hey! Let’s hack the German chancellor’s cell-phone because we can!’, played in these decisions.