Consequences for LulzSec

Hey look, consequences!
According to the FBI, the head of LulzSec, known online as Sabu, is really Hector Xavier Monsegur, a 28-year-old father of two from New York. And apparently, as a report from Fox News states, he's been informing on LulzSec since being caught last June.
The Fox News report itself is here. If you would prefer news from the New York Times, that is also available.

Personally, I very strongly disapprove of actions like those from LulzSec and Anonymous. I mean, seriously, hacking into PBS's website because a program that the network aired was overly negative to Wikileaks? Setting aside the fact that reasonable people will probably still be able to disagree over the value and effectiveness of Wikileaks (we'll come back to that in a bit), and setting aside even the actual content of the program itself, there are ways to make that kind of displeasure known that don't involve committing illegal acts. Especially if you have ties to the communications network that is Anonymous, or the site designed to make information publicly available like Wikileaks!

This, of course, ignores any of the other LulzSec-led hacking attempts during its short time in the public eye, such as those against Sony, Nintendo, or BioWare. I don't even see a point to any of those. Is there one? Am I just not paying enough attention?

What annoys me most are the legions of people that rush to the defense of these groups; there are some examples in the comments on the New York Times piece. There are two closely related main threads to focus on: the "what about the government and/or Wall Street's crimes" angle and the "these people are heroes" angle. (Usually, they're heroes because they expose the depredations of the government or of Wall Street.)

For the former, I will repeat the same damned line that no one seems to fully understand yet: the existence of greater crimes does not mean that lesser ones vanish. Saying "but this is worse!" merely redirects the conversation, and in no way answers the question that started it.

The question that started it, then - are they heroes? No. Not even slightly. Hackers such as LulzSec are at best vigilantes, doing whatever they damn well please in defense of whatever morality they can justify themselves with. And as it stands, carrying out such actions - anything from hacking a corporation's server to revealing classified information - is illegal, and rightly so. I tend to believe that there are things the government keeps secret for a reason, after all.

If you disagree? By all means, reveal the secrets, take whatever action you believe is necessary in defense of information that the public needs to know about, and let the rest of the world judge for themselves whether you were right or not. Frankly, all you're doing is replacing the government's judgement with your own, and hoping that the rest of us will agree with you rather than said government. Regardless of who comes out on top, though, such action is and will remain illegal, and part of making the decision to reveal such information anyway should be accepting that there will be consequences for that action.

In short, as one of my favorite authors said in regards to piracy (which is in many ways a similar phenomenon): own your choice. Right now, LulzSec's leaders are facing the consequences for the decisions they've made. Had they not been willing to accept that when they carried out their first hacking operation, they never should have started it in the first place.

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