This week, a petition was filed on the White House’s “We the People” website that aims to legitimize the use of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) as a legitimate form of protest.
“It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any ‘occupy,’ protest,” the petition states.
“Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time. As part of this petition, those who have been jailed for DDoS should be immediately released and have anything regarding a DDoS, that is on their ‘records,’ cleared.”
Some have speculated that Anonymous is behind the petition—but Anons aren’t the only one making this argument: Evgeny Morozov, a Belarus-born tech author, scholar, and journalist made a similar case back in December 2010.
However, he later warned: “Declaring that DDoS is a form of civil disobedience is not the same as proclaiming that such attacks are always effective or likely to contribute to the goals of openness and transparency pursued by Anonymous and WikiLeaks. Legitimacy is not the same thing as efficacy, even though the latter can boost the former. In fact, the proliferation of DDoS may lead to a crackdown on Internet freedom, as governments seek to establish tighter control over cyberspace.”
The White House’s “We the People” website opened in 2011 and allows anyone to submit a petition to the government on any topic. If a petition gets 25,000 signatures or more, the Obama Administration will be compelled to provide a formal response. Most responses have been fairly mild, however—save releasing the White House beer recipe in late 2012.
Citizens have used the system to criticize its “vapid” responses, to challenge Transportation Security Administration policy, and to encourage the president to veto SOPA, among other things.
Still, as of this writing, the DDoS petition only has around 1,255 signatures—23,745 to go.