Friday, June 24, 2011

LulzSec takes me back to 1965

Sometimes it sucks being right. Earlier this week when I predicted that arrests wold be imminent and that the people being arrested were probably kids living in their moms' basements, it was funny in the abstract. The reality of the U.K. arrest (see a photo of Ryan Cleary's Wickford Essex house, where the 19-year old lived with "his mum" Rita) puts a very human face on the story. An interview with "his mum" adds quite another dimension to the drama. So what's the Calculus of Human History telling us?

I don't know why this wasn't obvious to me before. While I joked about Anonymous and LulzSec et al being kids living in their mothers' basements, that was a gross oversimplification. Back in 1965 as a college freshman just out of Andover (one year behind George W. Bush and a classmate of Darrell Salk, son of polio vaccine inventor Jonas Salk), I remember meeting with SDA and SNCC firebrands out to change the world. If I could have afforded the bus ticket, I'd have been on my way to Selma, Alabama to single-handedly desegregate a diner. Or disable all "The Man's" police cars with some creative incendiary technology. Heck, if a teenager today built the kinds of explosive ordinance I routinely set off in my own teenage years, said teenager would be locked up as a terrorist. The reality of today's teens is that they're (forgive me James Dean) Rebels With A Cause.

It's all Rock-and-Roll, grasshopper. It started in the 1950s with Elvis. Desegregation and anti-war fueled our 1960s rock opera. In the 1970s we rocked to the mini-computer revolution, replacing it in the 1980s with the PC revolution. We rocked into the 1990s to the tune of the Internet, file sharing, and some genius hacking exploits. I remember sentences of guys like Kevin Mitnick where a condition of his parole was that he not have access to computers or modems. Ancient history. Then came the turn of the century and revolution was again in the air. The world become flat, and any teenager with a PC and access to the Internet could talk with any other teenager, anywhere. With THAT genie out of the bottle, government hypocrisy could not hide. Nor would it be tolerated.

After LulzSec "pwned" the CIA website, I wrote that these kids had dramatically miscalculated the risk-reward equation. The consequences of being the "fastest gun" didn't seem to faze Billy The Kid, and they don't seem to faze today's "hacktivists." Heck, back in 1965 I didn't give it a second thought, myself. The idea of getting beaten, castrated, set on fire, and then drug through town behind some bigot redneck's pickup truck was all part of the game back in 1965. So risk-reward takes a back seat to the real battlefield: truth vs. hypocrisy.

I started this blog last October 14th in my own reaction to government stupidity and the venal hypocrisy of the world's politicians. And considering my own 1965 roots, darned if the hactivists and I don't have the same target. Where we differ is that I'm committed to the rule of law. In my opinion, licensed and bonded cyber privateers could preserve freedom and bring down the bad guys.

The bad news for world governments: Today's teenage Rebels With A Cause are unstoppable and will not give up. The only good news for world governments: Legalizing cyber privateering is your only hope to bring order. To be sure, you can't effectively monetize defenses against teenagers out to expose hypocrisy. But you certainly CAN stop cyber crime and rogue governments in their tracks. As for those pesky teenagers, though, I leave you with the same advice Wally Cleaver gave his friend Eddie Haskell in the television series Leave it to Beaver: "Eddie, you know all that stuff you do to irritate people? Just quit doing it."

To all you governments, repressive and otherwise: You might want to cut out the hypocrisy and repression. And get the first-mover advantage of leading the world to cyber privateering legitimacy. Because not even NATO is safe.

Off to nuke some more popcorn.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?