The Jester's work fires people up and there really aren't many places where you can write about it, discuss it, etc. The arguments are circular, though, so, at some point (now), I need to move on.
The Final Word
I support free speech and expression. Jester's work is his expression. The courts will decide, if the time ever comes, whether his expression violates laws concerning hacking (and many thanks to the person who laid the law out - FANTASTIC information!) and whether his expression violates the civil rights of others. I find it refreshing that someone is standing up and saying "this is what I believe in" and "this is what I am doing about it." I wouldn't do it that way, but I don't use hacking as a form of protest. I don't think it is unethical or illegal to admire the work of a lone wolf. I don't have to agree with his work to admire it just as I don't have to "like" a particular piece of music or art to agree that is genius. Most importantly, I am not his press agent, his legal counsel, his agent, or his mother.
The Jester isn't the only hactivist that I follow. The other ideology that fascinates me is the work done under the name Anonymous. The trouble with writing about Anonymous is that there isn't one particular theme or person or message since anyone can use the umbrella. In talking about Jester, there is one person doing a specific set of activities; this isn't true for Anonymous.
Since I can't really discuss the technical side of hacks done under the name Anonymous, I will just focus on the activism part. College students, in particular, are drawn to the masks and the fanfare. So, this non-group is most fascinating to me.
I follow several Anon accounts on Twitter, and, truthfully, I learn so much from their tweets that I would not have known about. For example, today a collection of Anonymous folks are supporting #OpGuzoo. I would never have known about these poor animals tortured at a Canadian zoo had it not been for Anonymous. Their information gathering and dissemination process is fantastic, and the reader can decide which causes to support.
The issues with Anonymous have already been identified. When you allow anyone into the club -everyone will flock to the club, and there are all kinds of people - with good and bad intentions - that will show up at the door. Since it isn't a club, there isn't one person that can speak for the group when some goof ball does something on his or her own under the umbrella name.
That said, I have found the tweets of the Anons I follow to be educational (even if I don't agree with a cause or concern), and they link to direct sources. I appreciate the voice they have even if I don't agree or support some of the causes supported by some of their followers.
Interestingly, the Jester is the most anonymous of any of the hactivists but he opposes the overall Anonymous movement. The only cause they have both agree upon is their joint disgust at the Westboro Baptist Church. In his Twitter profile, Jester makes it clear that he is not associated with the Anonymous movement. The Anonymous movement often supports whistle blowers and leakers that release sensitive and compromising information about our troops, our defense and offense tactics, etc. The Jester opposes anything that he believes violates the safety of our troops or is considered an enemy to the US.
The Freedom of Speech and Expression
Back in the 60s, you could grab up your sign and go on a protest march. There was a chance you would get beat down. Nothing really has changed. If one idiot in the crowd throws a paper cup at a police officer, the whole crowd is considered a mob and police have the responsibility to stop violence before it becomes a mob scene. Hactivism bypasses all that hoopla. Go in, write a little code, apply a little code, walk back to the kitchen and grab a bag of chips. I give credit to the Anonymous protestors that still march in real time and real places. And, truthfully, the masks are effective - they signify the acceptance that we are all one voice and that no one person is greater than another. However, wearing the mask on the top of your head defeats the purpose, so if you are going to be Anonymous - be, well, anonymous. Wear the mask or don't, but he honest about what you want at the end of the day. If you want to be known as a protestor for a particular cause, pony up and own it. If you want to join a throng of voices and don't need recognition, grab your mask and wear it proudly.
I believe that we all have a duty to "be the change" that "we want to see in this world." For right or wrong, I believe both the Jester and his fans and the Anonymous followers are doing this - they are speaking up and trying to make a difference. After all is said and done, apathy is what will kill us all, and these two factions are working toward beating apathy.