Hacktivism. The Future of Direct Action?

This was originally written as an analysis of The Animal Movement Needs Cyber Warriors. It is published here as a guest editorial.

by Marcia Mueller
Cyber hacktivists save millions of animals! This is a great and timely idea.
As noted in previous blogs, animal rights activists have not made enough progress using other means. The big organizations in this country and abroad have decried animal abuse for years, and the Internet has disseminated their information. YouTube videos reveal levels of human cruelty to animals that is sickening and could never be adequately conveyed in the written word.
PETA, founded in 1980, emphasized animal rights over welfare and asserted that animals are not ours to exploit. HSUS added more rights messages to its previous welfare orientation. The most neglected and abused animals of all–farm animals–finally got more notice: Farm Animal Reform Movement was founded in 1981, Farm Sanctuary in 1986, Compassion Over Killing in 1995, Mercy for Animals in 1999. The list continues to grow and includes sanctuaries and shelters for domestic and wild animals.
So advocates dispensed leaflets, wrote letters, promoted veganism, protested, and rescued. The Animal Liberation Front’s dedicated activists went further and broke the law in their raids to free animals and destroy equipment and records, ruining months, perhaps years, of research data. However, they had to work fast to avoid being caught. They were often limited by terrain, security measures, and escape routes. When apprehended, they went to prison.
What have we to show for it all? We have shelters still filling with doomed kittens and abandoned grey-muzzled dogs; sanctuaries agonizing over which desperate horse or tiger they can afford to save; transport trucks with their cargo of misery pulling onto freeways every day; slaughterhouse workers prodding billions of terrified victims to the hell of the kill floor; bureaucrats deciding which wild animals will live or die.
So cyber terrorism should be the step. Hackers could target the companies and individuals who deserve to be punished the most, such as the Big-Ag complex. They could destroy account information, delete payrolls, put embarrassing interoffice memos on the Internet, and perhaps shut down assembly lines. Profits would fall and jobs would be lost. The pain would fall on CEO and worker alike, as all are complicit in the abuse.
Hackers could conduct attacks from virtually anywhere in the world. They would have no fear of security guards or cameras. They would not have to watch the clock or worry if they could run fast enough. They could throw their laptops and flash drives into bags and escape from one country to another as the need arose.
The hackers could also take a lesson from SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). This group conducted protests against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a large business who sold animals for experimentation. SHAC targeted employees and family, but they also aimed at secondary targets, as well, such as business partners, insurers, even caterers and cleaners. When those companies tired of the protests and severed ties with Huntingdon, its stock tumbled. Do we see possibilities here? Lots of opportunities?
Hacktivists could bring animal rights into the modern era.


3 thoughts on “Hacktivism. The Future of Direct Action?

  1. Marcia,

    I must preface this to say i know nothing of hacking. I do not have a clue how it is done. BUT- your idea make ssense- The very few AR people can’t do much else to effect any sort of trpreive for animals.I think hacking the animal abusers, if it was effective and permanent or very disruptive, would be good.

    In your post you mentioned a few organizations. There are hundreds more, each with it’s own agenda and budget. As Roland stated often- there is no movement, just a bunch of organizations acting independently for their version of “improvement” and to acquire contributions.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. We have multiple organizations, often competing for members and their dollars. What we don’t have is enough dedicated activists and budgets to fight Big-Ag and all the other animal-abusing corporations with their money and their K Street lobbyists. We also have to fight the AETA (the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) and the attempts to pass ag-gag laws that would punish whistleblowers rather than the perpetrators of animal abuse. But computer hackers could operate from anywhere. They could be interchangeable in skills. Their work could cause disruptions in business as usual and disclose confidential information on illegal or unethical activity that could damage or destroy organizations. I believe hackers could be among our most effective fighters for animals now.

      Liked by 1 person

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