Those who attack your life through the back door are not hackers, but governments; Those who leave open loopholes in their mobile phones are tech companies; hackers report who does it.

Believe it or not, Lady Gaga is a hacker. I found it in a revelation from San iGNUcius, the patron saint of hackers. “Lady Gaga is a clothing hacker,” he told me in conversation. Then I imagined a pop diva sitting in front of a computer, compulsively programming, hacking into smart clothes … I didn’t understand San iGNUcius’s revelation.

“We hackers still insist that hacking means much more than compromising the security of computer design,” he continued. I asked him to enlighten me with his knowledge. And he enlightened me: “What Lady Gaga does with her clothes is playfully uses her intellect. And if you are a hacker, you can rate it as hacking. Because being a hacker means not only that you enjoy using your intelligence in a playful way, but you probably also enjoy seeing others do it and how they do it, that you enjoy seeing their accomplishments.”

San iGNUcius was the last hacker of the prestigious and renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the largest centers of scientific and technological research and knowledge in the world, where the first generation of hackers emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s. His real name is Richard Stallman, father and guru of the free software movement, author of the term copyleft – the antithesis of copyright – and promoter of the GNU operating system.

Unlike crackers, hackers use their technological skills to resolve crises in their environment for the greater good.

If you think that hacking is the exclusive business of rogue programmers, you are wrong. And if you think that hackers pose a threat to your safety and the safety of all of us, you are wrong too. Free yourself from prejudice. The media lied to him. Abandon reductionist interpretations of the hack. You can be a hacker. Believe it or not, it is. You just need to use your intellect with a playful spirit to solve something difficult, have fun with it, enjoy the task – whether it is useful or not – share your discovery with the rest of the world, tell how you did it. and let others try, change it, improve it and enjoy it too. It doesn’t matter in the world of computers, journalism, science, music, poetry, or in everyday life. Eagerly explore the limits of the possible. This will be a hack.

Make no mistake, hackers are not cybercriminals who can enter your life through the back door of your computer, smart TV, or mobile phone (this is what tech companies, governments, and computer criminals do). Hackers are people as scattered and obscure as the singer Lady Gaga, Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks), Tim Berners-Lee (the computer scientist who created the World Wide Web), or perhaps even yourself.

Thinking and deciding how to take six chopsticks, three in each hand, handle them separately, without dropping any of them, and hold on to a portion of food, is a hack; nothing practical, truthful, but rewarding if done with joy and passion. A word from hacker guru Richard Stallman.

But while you or I could be hackers without knowing how to write a single line of computer code, it is in computing that the source of the revolution is discovered that, six decades after its inception, is still ongoing.

From the pioneers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s to WikiLeaks and Anonymous, the hacking community (and culture) has gone through an intense evolutionary process of computing and Web structuring that began in the computing underground. In the development of hacker ethics and in the formulation of new methods and mechanisms for the protection of human rights, including the basic principles of this new civilization: free information and universal access to knowledge as human rights.

However, the “heroes of the computing revolution” – as technology journalist Stephen Levy aptly defined them in 1984 in his revered book Hackers, scandalously unpublished in Spanish – received very bad press, and their nefarious reputation was inherited by new generations who turned to activism in cyberspace to such an extent that “the press has dramatized society’s vulnerability to computer security deficiencies, vaguely grouping disparate phenomena such as hacktivists, terrorists, computer and biological viruses,” as Professors Tim Jordan and Paul Taylor in their essay “Hacktivism and Cyberwar: rebels with a reason? ” (2004), basic work for understanding hacker activity.

What does it mean to be a hacker?

To understand what it means to be a hacker, we must turn to the primary sources, the media created by this community almost from the very beginning.

Among the media published by the hackers themselves, the magazine 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, born in 1984, stands out. In 2009, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its editor, Eric Gordon Corley, better known by the pseudonym Emmanuel Goldstein (mysterious character) key in George Orwell’s 1984 novel about a totalitarian state and its system of observation and control) – formulated the greatest ever published Hacker Treatises: The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey is arguably the largest primary documentary on hacker techniques, hacker culture, and the origins of hacktivism.

In this collection of articles, Goldstein explains: “Any decent researcher must have a bit of a hacking spirit, otherwise he will end up doing what everyone else does and not discovering anything new. A good journalist should always question what is being told and think about how to get around restrictions to find a worthy story. The hacker spirit is part of the human spirit, and it has always been.”

The social stigmatization of hackers arises mainly from the evaluative, dramatic, sensational and reductionist perceptions of the media. In 1990, sociologists Gordon Meyer and Jim Thomas – the authors of one of the most famous online newsletters in the pre-Internet era and its origins, Computer Underground Digest (CuD), created in 1990 – already warned us in their article ‘The Bouncy World of the Byte Bandit: Postmodern the interpretation of the computer underground ‘that the media’s definition of hackers and the lack of a clear understanding of what it really means to be a hacker is leading us to misapply this label to all malicious forms of computing. An identification of a cybercriminal with hackers, which Goldstein considers “contempt and insult to the wider hacker community that is working to make the world a better place for everyone.”

During the transition period from the 1980s to the 1990s – when the first major police raids against hackers began – authors such as Meyer and Thomas challenged the popular Manichean explanation in the media that “hackers can be viewed simply as a desecration of order. economic and moral shrine”. From his immersion in the bulletin board system hackers (the electronic bulletin boards that were the embryo of what we now call social media), it was already possible to conclude that “contrary to their media image, hackers avoid deliberately destroying data or causing any damage. system” and“ its main goal is to acquire knowledge ”. This is their crime to want to know and share it.

At the time, writer Bruce Sterling – one of the fathers of cyberpunk – described hacking in 1992 as “the pursuit of making access to computers and information as free and open as possible.”

Two years earlier, in 1990, cyber-libertarian John Perry Barlow – lyricist for the psychedelic rock band Grateful Dead – published the Crime and Puzzle manifesto, starting a new phase that prompted hackers to get actively involved. activism. From this text emerged not only the first hacking institution for political purposes, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but also the occasion for Sterling to publish in 1992 his famous work The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier., The first detailed study of the political conflict underlying the first major harassment, raids and arrests of hackers, as well as the strangulation of their own media, which definitely helped create a breeding ground for resistance and defiance e-civil society in the 1990s with the emergence of the first hacktivist groups, from which WikiLeaks or Anonymous learned.

To find the right definition of what it means to be a hacker, we must avoid traditional vocabularies – and, of course, the media – and consult the jargon file, the dictionary of the hacker community. The glossary itself, which has been consistently revised and updated since its inception in 1975, makes it clear that hackers are people with exceptional computer skills that they develop with enthusiasm and enthusiasm, but also any expert or enthusiast in any field (“anyone can to be an astronomical hacker, for example, “is said), or” one who enjoys the intellectual task of overcoming or creatively avoiding limitations. ” So remember, you might be a hacker.

The Jargon File states that the word “cracker”, not “hacker”, should be used for those who use their computer skills to harm, and in many cases, to profit. But if that headline word doesn’t convince you, a journalist might write, for example, “cybercriminal”, but should never use the word hacker when talking about someone who breaks into other people’s systems for criminal purposes.

Hackers against crackers

The criminalization of hackers, developed by the nation state, disseminated by the media and instilled in the population, is based on the arbitrary identification of members of this community as crackers, “destructive users whose goal is to create viruses and penetrate other systems,” as the Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen has well noted in his the essay “Ethics of the Hacker and the Spirit of the Information Age” (2001), another fundamental work intended to illustrate itself.
According to the Jargon File, the term “cracker” was coined by hackers in 1985 to protect against the “journalistic abuse” of the word “hacker.” Its use means rejection of this community by theft and vandalism crackers. This does not mean that hackers should refrain from breaking into systems without permission, but it should always be done with playful spirit and curiosity and for valid reasons that do not lead to destruction or damage. For example, it is justifiable for a hacker to break into a third party’s computer system to demonstrate its security flaws, or to access confidential information from companies or governments to uncover violations, incidents of corruption, or any misconduct.

But attempts by hackers to break away from crackers have been as intense and persistent as they have been unsuccessful. The struggle against institutionalized power has so far been futile. In mainstream media, the word “hacker” is almost always associated with cybercrime.

Eric S. Raymond, editor of Jargon File magazine, explains in his book How to Become a Hacker (2001) the difference from crackers: “Real hackers […] want nothing to do with them [crackers]. True hackers generally think that crackers are lazy, irresponsible and not very smart, and argue that being able to hack [a system] security makes you a hacker […]. The main difference is this: hackers build things, burglars break them. “

The obsession with separating hackers from the criminal world is present in virtually all hacker literature. But the ignorance of most journalists or the manipulation of the media – or both – has led to the semantic fraud that has sustained the legend for decades that hackers are by definition (or by nature) criminals…

“My crime is curiosity”

The hackers were not only concerned with figuring out the differences between themselves and real cybercriminals; police and media harassment to which they have been subjected has also pushed them for a long time to strongly condemn abuses against them.

On January 8, 1986, one of the most authoritative hackers in the world, Loyd Blankenship, better known by the pseudonym Mentor, a prominent member of the second generation of the American hacker group Legion of Doom, published in the electronic magazine Phrack after a police arrest, a text that became one of the cult manifestos and the cornerstone of this community: “The Hacker’s Conscience.” The last three paragraphs of this brief apology illustrate the frustration that the mechanisms of the institutional system cause hackers:
“This world is ours … the world of electrons and switches, the beauty of baud. We use the existing service without paying, which would be cheaper if not for these insatiable speculators. And you call us criminals. We investigate … and you call us criminals. We strive to expand our knowledge … and you call us criminals. We exist without color, nationality or religion … and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, fight wars, kill, cheat and lie to us in an attempt to make us believe that it is for our good, and still treat us like criminals.
Yes, I’m a criminal. My crime is curiosity. It is my crime to judge people by what they say and think, not by what they seem. My crime is to be smarter than you, which you will never forgive me.
I am a hacker and this is my manifesto. You can stop this person, but not everyone … after all, we are all the same. “

In this sense, the founder and editor of 2600 magazine asks, “How many more people will be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment for daring to investigate what powerful entities wanted to keep secret?”

Think of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who was arrested for obtaining and publishing classified documents that showed us the atrocities of the US Army in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; or Edward Snowden, who fled the United States to show the world how we are all being watched.

Remember that those who enter your life through the back door are not hackers, but governments; Those who leave open loopholes in their mobile phones are tech companies; hackers report who does it. It is therefore not surprising that the criminalization of this community is fundamentally encouraged by the authorities.

The speech given by then US President Bill Clinton on January 22, 1999 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, entitled “Keeping America Secure in the 21st Century” is symbolic and evidential. In his speech, Clinton called hackers a new cyber-terrorist threat to national security, along with terrorism in general and bioterrorism in particular.

The first American president of the Internet age not only reinforced an already colorful and standardized strategy to criminalize the hacker culture that identifies any cybercrime with it, but he also officially declared war on hackers as enemies of the state, while laying the foundation for a new network of controlled and monitored networks. under the pretext of national and public security. The idea of ​​a free Internet will only survive in the realm of hacker ideals.

Most media ignorance or media manipulation has resulted in a semantic scam that supports the legend that hackers are criminals.

Six decades of achievement and feat is not enough for this community to be respected; On the contrary, it continues to be systematically vilified, especially in the media, which has generalized and globalized the term hacker as synonymous with computer criminals and would-be terrorists, ignoring or ignoring the fact that we owe the existence of the Internet worldwide to hackers. Internet, free software and hardware, Linux, RSS, WordPress, Wikipedia, Reddit, Bitcoin, browsers like Mozilla Firefox or TOR, copyleft licenses and the creative community, the open science movement, and even the mass products of companies that are so contradict hacker ethics, like Apple, Microsoft or Facebook, whose founders were once part of the hacking community.

Hacking is not bad, it is not a destructive act, quite the opposite; Hacking literally means progress. Computer hackers have made a decisive contribution to technological development, and hacktivists have brought hacker attacks into the political arena to protect freedom of expression and free access to knowledge, so they do not understand that journalists are defaming them.

So when you read a headline in the press that uses the word “hacker” as a synonym for “criminal,” remember that you are being lied to.

Comrade Alberto Quian
“Pirate Party of the Basque Country”
specially for

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