TECH

Ashley Madison Hack Raises Question Of Legality For Anonymous Hacktivists

21/07/2015 08:56 BST | Updated 21/07/2015 09:59 BST

Online activists -- or hacktivists -- continue to tread the fine line between legality and morality in their efforts to bring about social justice on the Internet.

Hacking groups such as Anonymous continue to seek targets of all natures in their pursuit of moral retribution.

But as they tread the fine line between legal and illegal activism, virtual vigilantes run the real risk of being brought to justice themselves.

This week, hackers exposed the details of millions of users of the adultery-based dating site Ashley Madison.

This has yet again prompted questions about the difference between legality and morality of online activism.

Dai Davis, an engineer and solicitor, thinks much of the debate around the legality of hacktivism is confused by the ambiguous nature of UK law. “Under the idiotic strict legal definition of what is legally allowed – like ‘computer misuse’ – then most things Anonymous do is unlawful.

"But so would using your hotel key card in the wrong door."

Morality does play a part in determining what is and isn't lawful. “Lawfulness is a morality judgement and it’s a relative term."

And what of the future of the law around hacktivism? “Votes aren’t won or lost because of hacktivism and not all hacktivism is bad,” Davis says.

While the law remains ambiguous, hackers continue to tread the fine line of legality and morality - but with their selection of unanimously reviled targets like ISIS, public support for online activists may remain.

From Kanye West to Katie Hopkins, to serious offenders and even Islamic State, here are 9 times hackers turned hacktivist and dodged the law in order to right perceived wrongs.

Hacktivists-List-One

Hacktivists have not been limited to celebrities or morally questionable enterprises.

Earlier this year Anonymous devoted time and resources to taking on hate speech, organised criminal activity and even the Islamic State online.

Hacktivists-List-One