A reasoned defense of hacking

Copyright Peter Timusk © 2000

    We have looked at hacker ethics and have seen that unauthorised access is wrong. However, it may be right in some cases. With Rule Utilitarianism we create a rule that: unauthorised access is wrong unless done with a warrant or legal sanction. We do need to break into computers that are being used by criminals and terrorists. Therefore, we are right to access computer systems owned by the forces of evil in an effort to prevent evil. This is basically a tradeoff of good intentions versus the unethical aspect of breaking into the computer. We should leave this of work to spies and security agents, although we should be kept aware of what these government agents are doing with this power.
    In general, we have accepted as computer users, that it is okay to have passwords, and wrong to hack into computers. Hackers will continue to access computers without authorisation. We should look at this problem with a view to social justice, and with a view of ethics that could possibly justify illegal access. As it is deontological ethics will not defend unauthorised access. But also deontological ethics may not be able to defend privacy. The duty of the hacker to educate themselves, is the defense given for hacking. Not all hackers may have this defense so we can not say it is always right to access a computer without authorisation.
    Consequential ethics offer a chance to consider the actions of hackers in more detail. There is the possibility of considering the end result of the hack. The hacker who does no real harm, nor corrupts or changes files, would be as in the British Computer Misuse Act, charged with a lesser crime. This is an area where consequential arguments are going to be valid.
    I don't believe a solid argument in defense of hacking can exist. I once hacked into a computer, but got into a pushing fight with a legitimate user. Looking back on this, my hacking was a mistake. My defense would be, that I was learning about computers. I don't hack any more. I find plenty to do with computers and do some very good work without having to hack into other people's accounts. I have enough money to buy computers and pay for Internet access. I think hacking has had its day and it never was reasonably justified.

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Copyright Peter Timusk © 2000, 2001. Last updated May 3rd  2001. Created August 28th, 2000.
Web site for 32.214,  Carleton University.
Course Professor: Diane E. Dubrule Assistant Professor and Web Master Department of Philosophy.