Understanding Perceptions of the Ethics of Hacktivism

How can we create online spaces for activism to support civic engagement? How can we minimize ethical, moral, and legal concerns? Hacktivism, or the act of hacking for an activist purpose, creates opportunities for engaging in protest and civil disobedience that are not possible with traditional methods of protest. The blending of technology and activism has the potential to transform the practice of activism through widespread, international, democratically based protest on a scale never seen before. However, legal and ethical tensions must be addressed in order to design effective policies and technologies to regulate and support hacktivist activity.

We are working to develop a human-centered understanding of the ethics of hacktivism. Through mixed methods research, we are investigating attitudes and beliefs that residents of the United States hold about hactivism’s history, present day practice, and effectiveness.