TWO students who hacked Fine Gael’s 2011 election website have blasted ‘uneducated’ perceptions amongst the public and media about hackers and activist group ‘Anonymous’.
“There's a difference between trolling and then there's being an arsehole on the internet,” said forensic student Darren Martyn.
“Even with the recent picture hacking with celebrities; the media don’t have a clue, they blame it on one party when in reality anyone could do that.”
Mr Martyn made his comments at the Web Summit today where he was joined by fellow Irish hacker Donncha O’Cearbhaill for a discussion entitled ‘Anonymous and Lulzsec: The Politics and Power Behind The Mask’
Last year, the two students became the first to be prosecuted in Ireland for computer hacking. However, they were spared jailed sentences and left court with clean records.
They had pleaded guilty in July to criminal damage to the www.finegael2011.ie website, which was defaced, had its database stolen and was knocked offline for 24 hours after it was hacked on January 9, 2011 – seven weeks before the general election. In court their actions were described as a "stunt" to embarrass the party.
Today, Mr O Cearbhaill described their actions as “morally dubious” but insisted that the definition of online abuse needs to put it into context.
“In Anonymous, a lot of people are politically minded and want to use their power to change something,” he said.
Mr Martyn reiterated that most online activists are looking for “more transparency and more openness”.
“We want our government representatives to be accountable,” he said.
The two young men were joined on the Library Stage by Gabriella Coleman, author of ‘Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous’ where she describes the Anonymous hackers as “ultra co-ordinated motherfuckers”.