The United States has once again made a new proposal to congress built on Fear and Ignorance. In light of the Sony Breach in late 2014, Obama has proposed a new bill that essentially brings the hammer down on everyone who could unknowingly be a part of a discussion involving ‘hackers’ and ‘hacking’, as well as sending traffic to a server which potentially contains unlawful or questionable content, thus making them a criminal in the eyes of the law.
The bill on sight violates First Constitutional amendment rights concerning freedom of speech and association, and also builds itself on the misunderstanding of what a Hacker is. The original and mainly correct definition is one who pursues Computer Science and Programming as a creative and intellectual passion, originating out of academia in the mid to late 1960s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during the emergence of UNIX and the C programming language, and the Free Software movement. The persons therein were given the title of hackers for their creative endeavours in technology, however after the term became mixed in with embellished portrayals of people using computers to break network security in Film and Television, the misuse and incorrect meaning eventually got attention from the mainstream and the government. Around this time, the word “cracker” was introduced to act as a label for those who break security and steal data, but to little effect, however still used today to act as a correction. From then on, the term hacker has been used by unknowing people to attribute to individuals who unlawfully breach network security and/or steal information, making, in this case, anyone who (as myself) identifies as a hacker to be seen as a bad guy, and with this newly proposed bill, a criminal even if there has been no crime committed to be prosecuted.
We are now seeing the harmful situations created both through the misconception of a hacker and by allowing unconstitutional federal grasp of the foundation of association and communications. This will undoubtedly harm everyone just as these vague and unconstitutional laws have ruined the lives of people such as Aaron Swartz and other individuals involved in Systems Administration, Information Networking and other Computer Sciences and Internet Activism. The damage inflicted by the government in relation to these situations which require much more subtlety is innumerable, and will surely only worsen as long as these laws are passed, effectively making the Internet unusable. A formal opposition to the continuation of these laws being made must be established to safeguard the free and openness of the world-wide web, and the dismantling of unjust laws which limit the availability and use of it, starting with this abominable proposal.