As Hollywood surfs the world of computer hacking with Hackers, starring Trainspotring’s Jonny Lee Miller, Eddie Gibb pulls the screens back on the real info
8 The List 3-16 May I996
hen armed l’ederal agents hust into Joey‘s parents' home in the latest \etsploitation movie Hue/(HIV. he's Ill IIIC sIttHVc‘l‘. Iluh‘.’ Aren‘t hackers tneant to he lone nerds with personal hygiene prohlen‘is and no matcs‘.’ Well. tor the purposes ol'this lilm. hacker culture means washing regu— larly. going to parties. roller-~hlading and even dating girls. Ilell. some of the hackers are girls. This is the digital underground played out as a teen sitcom on HIV".
Hackers ot the universe unite: Jonny Lee Miller and Angellna Jolie
In these cases. heating the system may he the literal ohjective hut it doesn‘t necessarily imply any ideological position. llackers tend not to he engaged politically heyond their actual hacking activities -- computers are the whole deal — and there appears to he little sense ol‘ collective purpose. .-\ccounts ol hacker trials in America show that del‘endants usually need little prompt- ing to squeal on their huddies in return for lenient treatment. In a strange reverse psychol- ogy. this lack ol' honour among data-thieves is
prohahly the hest prool
One thing the lilm does ‘I believe in total freedom of access that hackers are not crim- get right. however. is the to digitauy held information, and that inally motivated.
“mm MCI“ “14m” no hacker should be punished . . . I would never use the information I obtained tor gaining money because our purpose is not money.’
In cyher-journalist and sci-Ii writer Bruce Ster- ling‘s hook 77H” Hacker ('r'uckdmi'ri. an account ol~ the rise of the digital counter-cultttre. the Secret Service leaves a lot ol‘ hoot prints on the trout doors ol' suhurhan America. lior many parents. this sudden intrusion was the first they knew ahout the code-cracking cuckoo in their nest. The question is whether hreaking and entering a computer system which doesn‘t helong to you. alheit vy ith a tnodetn and phone line rather than a crow—hat. can really he regarded as a victimless
crime. ‘Inl'ormation wants to he tree‘ is the hacker
credo. and l‘or some the stated aim is to liherate it; for other hackers the thrill is simply heating the security systems which are supposed to insulate large computers trotn unauthorised entry.
‘I helieve in total l'ree- dom of access to digitally held information. and that no hacker should he punishedf says a fifteen— year-old hacker known as Key Man who 7710 List contacted via the Internet. ‘Yes. most ol‘ our activities are technically illegal lhutl we think our actions should not he policed and should hecome legal. I personally helieve that hacking is a good way to show the difference between those who use the Net and learn the minimum they can ahout it. and hackers who are all very experienced users ol' the Net. I would never use the inl'ormation I obtained for gaining money hecause our purpose is not money.‘
The lilm Hackers has fun surfing on the hey— dude language. hut avoids tackling the really suhversive possihilities ol’ hacking as an anti-