This, from a BBC report dated 6th June, on the hacking collective called Lulz:
Their success may have more to do with the security failings of their targets than it does with their command of computer code.
Meanwhile, also from the BBC but published today, we find out that a 19-year-old has been arrested in relation to alleged hacking activities.
It does make me wonder, though. If anyone really wanted to give the proponents of open government a hard time, they could do worse than support a wave of high profile website attacks such as those that companies like Sony and Nintendo have suffered over the past few months. Making everyone wary of releasing official data to ordinary citizens wouldn’t, under such circumstances, be difficult to achieve – in what would be a miasma of confusing but scary messages. It would also serve to make us forget – at least for the moment (though apparently not today) – the inevitable incompetence shown by authorities who choose to centralise massive amounts of significant data in the hope that no one will manage to find the keys to the kingdom.
On the other hand, we could just as easily argue the opposite: if data is so difficult to protect – if, indeed, everything is susceptible to being broken into – why not engender a shared culture of openness like nothing we have ever experienced before?
Perhaps the cyber criminals need to be treated like drug barons: essentially cut off privileged access to products of choice by allowing us all to freely trade in the information which, to date, we’ve been so half-heartedly protecting. In Norway, for example, I believe it is the custom to release financial data of all citizens on government websites. We could do worse than to follow their example. If we make our information less secret, if we create a society where hiding information is an exception to the rule, if – for example – we follow the WikiLeaks model, not only will the value of information for criminals drastically fall but it will also become far less necessary to keep it under competent lock and key.
We may – in the end – be driven to open government because we really have no practical alternative.