Anonymous Defense

Jay Leiderman, a lawyer representing Christopher Doyon, alleged Anonymous hacktivist Commander X, argues that a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is not a crime, but a form of legal protest, a digital sit-in, and protected speech.

Wednesday, Leiderman, speaking to TPM, said: There’s no such thing as a DDoS attack. A DDoS is a protest; it’s a digital sit-it. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech. Nothing was malicious, there was no malware, no Trojans. This was merely a digital sit-in.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a planned attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Multiple users send repeated requests to a website, thus flooding the servers.

It is important to distinguish between a voluntary DDoS attack, the type of attack Anonymous is known for, and the involuntary DDoS attack which involves using “botnets” made up of slave computers infected with malware, all done without the knowledge or permission of the computer’s owner.

The voluntary type of DDoS involve a high volume of users all voluntarily participating, requesting information from the same targeted server simultaneously, and thus making the selected computer resource unavailable to intended users, just as a sit-in blocks access to a particular site or resource.

There are several similar, Anonymous related cases headed for court across the US and other contries. Whether or not a judge and jury will accept the sit-in defense remains to be seen. Yet one thing seems certain, charging those who in good conscience participated in such a relatively harmless cyber protest like a voluntary DDoS attack should not be subject to felony charges.

It's an interesting defense, and it might get tricky to prove that there is something illegal about in a lot of people doing something legal (accessing a web site) and not causing any demonstrable harm...

On the other hand, prosecutors can claim that these attacks caused serious hampering of the business flow causing serious financial damages in the process.

Let's wait and see what happens...