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Hacktivist groups can provide accountability.

One citizen's hacktivist is another's cyber terrorist, or so the new adage goes. Today, an undecided verdict hangs over groups like Anonymous, which harness the power of technology to help ignite revolutions, fight oppression, and dismantle dictatorships, while pursuing targeted cyberattacks against individuals and groups, sometimes for purely malicious purposes. A survey commissioned by Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Waterloo, Ontario, and conducted by global research company Ipsos, Paris, France, across 24 countries finds that 66% of global citizens believe hacktivist groups are breaking the law and should be stopped, while 52% also feel that hacktivist groups should step in when no one else will hold somebody accountable.

If these groups operate outside of the bounds of the law and mercilessly pursue cyberattacks against individuals and groups, then why is it that global citizens also believe that these groups are credible, last-ditch defenders of accountability? The answer may lie in the enigmatic and unpredictable nature of these actors.

"Internet users around the world are conflicted on the role of hacktivist groups like Anonymous. You could almost say that people tend to disapprove of their tactics, but approve of what they often do with those means," says Eric Jardine, CIGI research fellow and cybersecurity specialist. 'They seem to be apprehensive of their lack of recognizable organizational structure, and experience trepidation about their operation from the shadows of the Internet. At the same time, Internet users also deem the outcome of hacktivist operations in a more benign light, especially when they are holding institutionally powerful people to account."

When asked about perceptions of hacktivists, two in three respondents say they play an important role in keeping criminal organizations, foreign governments, large companies, and their government(s) accountable. Some 43% claim to have a positive view of hacktivist groups, while 56% believe that hacktivists are a nuisance and provide no real value. In regions experiencing frequent political transition, such as the Middle East, Latin America, and BRIC --Brazil, Russia, India, and China--countries, respondents were most likely to agree that hacktivists play an important role in keeping their own governments accountable.

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Title Annotation:Internet
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2016
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