BART & You

Written on:September 1, 2011
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So, who was hacked this week?  In short – you were.  Here’s the story; Charles Blair Hill, a 45 year old civilian was shot and killed in July 2011 by transit police in the San Francisco subway system (BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit) during a “confrontation” where Hill was intoxicated and carrying a knife.  People who felt that this was use of excessive force by the transit police arranged a protest via social networking sites, on the transit system where the incident occurred. This alerted authorities, who shut down access to social networking sites at the time and place where the protest was to take place, thus stopping it from taking place.  It was scheduled for the busiest time of day, so no commuters were inconvenienced – this time.

At the same time this was taking place, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister began negotiations with Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry in order to obtain user data to track and stop future protests in light of the current riots in the UK. This is after having condemned the same actions by those in power in the Middle East recently – and we know how that has turned out.  We also know where Twitter stands on these issues, since the United States Government tried to obtain the user data of people associated with or suspected of being associated with Wikileaks in January 2011.  Facebook and Blackberry have yet to make a public announcement about their stance on this issue.

Those who are not shy about stating their stance about anything, even if they are shy about showing their faces, are the “hacktivist” group Anonymous.  To protest the protest of the protest, they initiated a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the lesser-used BART site mybart.org (I just visited it and it says “This site is currently under renovation”) which wasn’t bothersome to begin with because the site that is mainly used is bart.gov, and the latter site was left unscathed.  Unfortunately it was later revealed that Anonymous hadn’t just protested, but that they had taken data from the site about the users of the site and stored the data on pastebin.com. Why they decided to do that, I can’t tell you, and it’s not as if we can just call them up and ask them.  These stunts make it difficult to get behind this group, even when they do execute peaceful protests via hacking (see previous post regarding the Syrian Ministry of Defense).  They have tweeted that they are just getting warmed up, so if Britain persists with this line of censorship, we can be sure that Anonymous will orchestrate similar attacks there soon.

Where do you stand on this?  Do any of these ends justify the means?

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