Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's the line between right and wrong?

Information is valuable. Look at how much money is spent on programs, software, and other measures that are implemented in order to protect it. And why does it need protection? Because there are people trying to gain access to it.

But what makes hacking or other means of gaining someone's personal information without their consent bad? As I understand it the "without their consent" is the main thing that people point to as why taking someone's information under such circumstances is wrong. 

Well what if the morality/immorality or right/wrong of hacking a computer to take someone's information without consent wasn't determined not by the act that was committed but by the who the act was committed against?

A few days ago I saw a link to this article come up in my Facebook feed where the friend who put it up was cheering for it.

Let's be clear. This friend was happy over the fact that the hacker group Anonymous had hacked their way into getting personal information about members of the Westboro Baptist Church and posting it in a public place.

Look I despise the rude, disrespectful, and downright actions that Westboro has taken in recent years from picketing military funerals to (at least) planning to picket the funerals of some of the children killed in last week's Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre. What they are doing is terrible and I would like to see them fade from existence just as much as the next person.

However I don't think that excuses stealing their personal information and sharing it in public.

Just like any other citizen members of Westboro have rights to privacy of information. Now from what I can tell while the things members of that church do are vile and immoral none of them are explicitly illegal either. If so then I could at least see the argument that Anonymous' hacking and sharing of information as akin to providing information to authorities for wanted criminals but even then that would call for sharing the info with law enforcement, not with the general public.

Let me flip things around for a bit.

There's no shortage of people who think that the things that members of the Occupy Movement do and say are vile and immoral. So what if Anonymous hacked an Occupy website, got information on some of its members and shared it with the public? Would the court of public opinion change it's answer?

I know this sounds odd but I just think that when, "What do I think of them personally?" is what determines if an act is a good or bad thing, something may be wrong.