The Terrorist – Hacker/Hacktivist Distinction: An Investigation of Self-Identified Hackers and Hacktivists

Tanczer, L. (2017). The Terrorist – Hacker/Hacktivist Distinction: An Investigation of Self-Identified Hackers and Hacktivists. In M. Conway, L. Jarvis, O. Lehane, S. Macdonald & L. Nouri (Eds.), Terrorists' Use of the Internet. (pp. 77-92). Amsterdam: IOS Press.

15 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2017

See all articles by Leonie Tanczer

Leonie Tanczer

University College London - Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP)

Date Written: July 6, 2017

Abstract

The academic literature on terrorism is filled with references to online activities, and the equation of hacking and hacktivism (i.e., politically motivated hacking) with cyberterrorism. This perspective ignores differences in capacities, scope, and motives. Besides, scholarly research is lacking examinations of those perceived as alleged ‘security threats’. This chapter therefore uses interviews with self-identified hackers and hacktivists (N = 35) to address this gap. It examines the distinction between hacking, hacktivism, and cyberterrorism, and studies the discourses and practices of hackers and hacktivists. Building upon the theoretical concept of (in)securitisation and the method of thematic analysis, the findings provide insights into (a) perceptions of hackers and hacktivists by external actors and their (b) self-assessment that stands in contrast to the viewpoints expressed earlier. The results highlight interviewees' objections to the translation of hacking and hacktivism into violent acts of any nature, with participants articulating that the connection of these concepts poses threats to civil liberties and political rights online. The chapter therefore has implications both for academic as well as professional discourse. It seeks to foster a more reflected engagement with these concepts and points to the need for concrete terminological delineations.

Keywords: Hacking, hacktivism, cyberterrorism, cybersecurity, online activism, critical terrorism studies

Suggested Citation

Tanczer, Leonie, The Terrorist – Hacker/Hacktivist Distinction: An Investigation of Self-Identified Hackers and Hacktivists (July 6, 2017). Tanczer, L. (2017). The Terrorist – Hacker/Hacktivist Distinction: An Investigation of Self-Identified Hackers and Hacktivists. In M. Conway, L. Jarvis, O. Lehane, S. Macdonald & L. Nouri (Eds.), Terrorists' Use of the Internet. (pp. 77-92). Amsterdam: IOS Press. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2998202

Leonie Tanczer (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) ( email )

Boston House
36–38 Fitzroy Square
London, W1t 3EY
United Kingdom

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