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Is DDoS free speech?

Quantum Windbag

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This is something I have been thinking about for a while. For the non techies here who are not aware what dedicated denial of service (DDoS) is, it is essentially making a number of requests on a single webpage. The theory is that you eventually overwhelm the server that runs the webpage, causing it to be unavailable for anyone.

While this is obviously inconvenient, and does cause monetary loss if the page targeted is a commerce site, it does not involve getting any information from the targeted site, and does not even gain unauthorized access to the computer. all it does is deny other people access to said site.

Courts in Germany have actually ruled that a politically motivated DDoS attack is protected speech. Now a defendant in CA is making the same argument here.

Last year, we discussed whether or not things like Operation Payback by Anonymous (DDoSing sites of organizations they didn't like) was really the equivalent of a modern-day sit-in protest, rather than a criminal hacking, as law enforcement (and victims) wanted to allege. It appears that this may be a question that courts are going to need to answer. Nick points us to the news that the lawyer for a homeless guy accused of setting up a DDoS on the City of Santa Cruz (he was pissed about a law) is claiming that DDoS attacks are legal and protected speech in the form of a protest:
“There’s no such thing as a DDoS ‘attack’,” Leiderman said. “A DDoS is a protest, it’s a digital sit in. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech.”

Leiderman said the crimes shouldn’t be prosecuted at all. “Nothing was malicious, there was no malware, no Trojans. This was merely a digital sit in. It is no different from occupying the Woolworth’s lunch counter in the civil rights era.”

Lawyer For Accused: DDoS Is A Legal Form Of Protest | Techdirt

I think he actually has a point. Either that, or Obama is guilty of a felony when he orders DDoS attacks on congressional switchboards.
 

SmarterThanHick

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no. these are not equivalent. you can physically occupy a space outside a store when protesting, but you cannot physically prevent people from entering the store. free speech means you can say that site sucks. it doesn't mean you can propagate malicious actions to take down a website. in fact that's not speech at all.
 
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Quantum Windbag

Quantum Windbag

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no. these are not equivalent. you can physically occupy a space outside a store when protesting, but you cannot physically prevent people from entering the store. free speech means you can say that site sucks. it doesn't mean you can propagate malicious actions to take down a website. in fact that's not speech at all.

It does not take down a website, it occupies the website so other people cannot get in.
 

SmarterThanHick

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picket lines cannot block access to a store. i mentioned this above. doing such is illegal.
 

manifold

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Theoretically I guess maybe. And as a point of clarification, it stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

But the practical reality is it would nearly be impossible to launch a DDoS attack legally. It's typically done using thousands of hijacked computers, and hijacking computers is certainly illegal. Of course if you have your own network of 10 to 100 thousand computers, perhaps you could make a case that it's legal.
 
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Quantum Windbag

Quantum Windbag

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Theoretically I guess maybe. And as a point of clarification, it stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

But the practical reality is it would nearly be impossible to launch a DDoS attack legally. It's typically done using thousands of hijacked computers, and hijacking computers is certainly illegal. Of course if you have your own network of 10 to 100 thousand computers, perhaps you could make a case that it's legal.

Damn, why the fuck did I say dedicated?

It does not have to use hijacked computers. PayPal suffered a DDoS attack when thousands of people around the world voluntarily tried accessing the website at the same time, and kept doing so. I am pretty sure the people that participated in that will have no problem arguing what they did was legal.

Not sure about the guy in the story I linked to and how he did it, but they should be charging him for hacking the computers he used, if they can find them and prove it, not the site he really did no damage to.
 

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Theoretically I guess maybe. And as a point of clarification, it stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

But the practical reality is it would nearly be impossible to launch a DDoS attack legally. It's typically done using thousands of hijacked computers, and hijacking computers is certainly illegal. Of course if you have your own network of 10 to 100 thousand computers, perhaps you could make a case that it's legal.

Damn, why the fuck did I say dedicated?

It does not have to use hijacked computers. PayPal suffered a DDoS attack when thousands of people around the world voluntarily tried accessing the website at the same time, and kept doing so. I am pretty sure the people that participated in that will have no problem arguing what they did was legal.

Not sure about the guy in the story I linked to and how he did it, but they should be charging him for hacking the computers he used, if they can find them and prove it, not the site he really did no damage to.

If you can get thousands of willing participants then it's perfectly legal, or at least should be.

btw: The most notorious perpetrators of DDoS attacks is the Russian mafia that uses them to extort payoffs from online gaming and porn sites. Interpol estimates that up to 90% of these attacks go unreported as the sites simply decide it's cheaper and less hassle to simply pay the ransom.
 

SmarterThanHick

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picket lines cannot block access to a store. i mentioned this above. doing such is illegal.

That did not answer my question.

Oh I'm sorry. I thought you were trying to make a relevant but incorrect comparison. Now I see you wanted me to respond to an incomparable hypothetical. Sure I'll play along:

Quantum Windbag said:
What is the practical difference between a picket line blocking access to a store and burning it to the ground?
From a practical business standpoint, not much. Whether the malicious intent prevents people from getting to the store from physical blockade or by removing the store contents by fire, the income of both is zero.
 
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Quantum Windbag

Quantum Windbag

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Oh I'm sorry. I thought you were trying to make a relevant but incorrect comparison. Now I see you wanted me to respond to an incomparable hypothetical. Sure I'll play along:

Picket lines can block access to stores. If they are outside a store people are less likely to enter it, and the more picketers the more impact there is on the business.

From a practical business standpoint, not much. Whether the malicious intent prevents people from getting to the store from physical blockade or by removing the store contents by fire, the income of both is zero.

There is not much difference between blocking access to a store and burning it to the ground? You don't think the loss of inventory, the damage to the property, the added cost to rebuild and restock, and everything else associated with actually destroying a store is worse than simply making it harder for customers to get into a store?
 
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Quantum Windbag

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Theoretically I guess maybe. And as a point of clarification, it stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

But the practical reality is it would nearly be impossible to launch a DDoS attack legally. It's typically done using thousands of hijacked computers, and hijacking computers is certainly illegal. Of course if you have your own network of 10 to 100 thousand computers, perhaps you could make a case that it's legal.

Damn, why the fuck did I say dedicated?

It does not have to use hijacked computers. PayPal suffered a DDoS attack when thousands of people around the world voluntarily tried accessing the website at the same time, and kept doing so. I am pretty sure the people that participated in that will have no problem arguing what they did was legal.

Not sure about the guy in the story I linked to and how he did it, but they should be charging him for hacking the computers he used, if they can find them and prove it, not the site he really did no damage to.

If you can get thousands of willing participants then it's perfectly legal, or at least should be.

btw: The most notorious perpetrators of DDoS attacks is the Russian mafia that uses them to extort payoffs from online gaming and porn sites. Interpol estimates that up to 90% of these attacks go unreported as the sites simply decide it's cheaper and less hassle to simply pay the ransom.

The legal argument is going to center around intent. If the intent is to extort money it should be illegal.
 

zzzz

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Since it denies other people the opportunity to engage in commerce or their right of free speech, I would say that it does not merit protection under the First Amendment.

In the Tinker v. Des Moines case, the U.S. Supreme Court said students have the right to free speech at school unless their speech would cause a “material and substantial disruption” to class or school activities, or would infringe on the rights of others.
 

SFC Ollie

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This is something I have been thinking about for a while. For the non techies here who are not aware what dedicated denial of service (DDoS) is, it is essentially making a number of requests on a single webpage. The theory is that you eventually overwhelm the server that runs the webpage, causing it to be unavailable for anyone.

While this is obviously inconvenient, and does cause monetary loss if the page targeted is a commerce site, it does not involve getting any information from the targeted site, and does not even gain unauthorized access to the computer. all it does is deny other people access to said site.

Courts in Germany have actually ruled that a politically motivated DDoS attack is protected speech. Now a defendant in CA is making the same argument here.

Last year, we discussed whether or not things like Operation Payback by Anonymous (DDoSing sites of organizations they didn't like) was really the equivalent of a modern-day sit-in protest, rather than a criminal hacking, as law enforcement (and victims) wanted to allege. It appears that this may be a question that courts are going to need to answer. Nick points us to the news that the lawyer for a homeless guy accused of setting up a DDoS on the City of Santa Cruz (he was pissed about a law) is claiming that DDoS attacks are legal and protected speech in the form of a protest:
“There’s no such thing as a DDoS ‘attack’,” Leiderman said. “A DDoS is a protest, it’s a digital sit in. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech.”

Leiderman said the crimes shouldn’t be prosecuted at all. “Nothing was malicious, there was no malware, no Trojans. This was merely a digital sit in. It is no different from occupying the Woolworth’s lunch counter in the civil rights era.”

Lawyer For Accused: DDoS Is A Legal Form Of Protest | Techdirt

I think he actually has a point. Either that, or Obama is guilty of a felony when he orders DDoS attacks on congressional switchboards.

Thankfully the courts in Germany are not the courts in the USA. Denying someone access to a commercial site is not nor should it be protected speech. Same goes with a political site. If I want to read what a candidate has to say then no one should be able to prevent me from reading it or watching a video provided on the site.

Now if so many individuals actually do cause a site to crash, well, in a way that's free advertising when it hits the networks. Good or bad depends on the spin........
 

SmarterThanHick

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Picket lines can block access to stores. If they are outside a store people are less likely to enter it, and the more picketers the more impact there is on the business.
"It is legal to picket a store, but it is illegal to block entry to the store." No, you cannot physically block a store entrance. It is still illegal.

Large numbers of people outside a store may use their free speech to influence people not to enter, just as you can try to convince people not to go to a website. You may not physically prevent people from entering a store, and therefore the extension would be disallowing people from physically preventing others from using a website.

From a practical business standpoint, not much. Whether the malicious intent prevents people from getting to the store from physical blockade or by removing the store contents by fire, the income of both is zero.

There is not much difference between blocking access to a store and burning it to the ground? You don't think the loss of inventory, the damage to the property, the added cost to rebuild and restock, and everything else associated with actually destroying a store is worse than simply making it harder for customers to get into a store?
Once again I find you making incongruous comparisons. If a fire was set to a store and physically prevented all sales for a set amount of time, OR a physical blockade prevents people from getting to that store and prevents all sales FOR THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME, then from a business perspective, the bottom line is equivalent. But sure, if you compare apples and oranges, you can conclude they're not the same.

I look forward to your further poor comparisons and lack of knowledge on the legalities of protests.
 
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Quantum Windbag

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"It is legal to picket a store, but it is illegal to block entry to the store." No, you cannot physically block a store entrance. It is still illegal.

Large numbers of people outside a store may use their free speech to influence people not to enter, just as you can try to convince people not to go to a website. You may not physically prevent people from entering a store, and therefore the extension would be disallowing people from physically preventing others from using a website.

If there is a picket line outside a store it restricts access. the more picketers there are, the harder it is to get into the store. This happens even if the picketers are obeying the laws. DDoS works on the same principle, it blocks access to a website by tying up the server bandwidth.

By the way, that link is for one state, not every state, different states have different laws.

Once again I find you making incongruous comparisons. If a fire was set to a store and physically prevented all sales for a set amount of time, OR a physical blockade prevents people from getting to that store and prevents all sales FOR THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME, then from a business perspective, the bottom line is equivalent. But sure, if you compare apples and oranges, you can conclude they're not the same.

I look forward to your further poor comparisons and lack of knowledge on the legalities of protests.

Could that be because you do not understand what a DDoS attack does? And that, having made a bad comparison yourself, you now find yourself forced to defend it when it has obviously failed?
 

SmarterThanHick

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If there is a picket line outside a store it restricts access. the more picketers there are, the harder it is to get into the store. This happens even if the picketers are obeying the laws. DDoS works on the same principle, it blocks access to a website by tying up the server bandwidth.
You're still not understanding this concept. Picketers cannot block access. Or did you think it was like the movies where there are swarms of people that walk really fast across the path to the entrance, making it difficult for a store patron to gain access? More people can certainly stand NEXT TO the store entrance, but they cannot block it in any form.

This seems to be a point you are now struggling against despite me citing specific state laws. It's your claim. Perhaps you should provide some support to where it is legal instead of having me shoot down your claim on an individual state basis?

Protesters arrested for blocking Longview grain train | Local & Regional | KATU.com - Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News - Portland, Oregon
Justice Department Tougher On Abortion Protesters : NPR
Five protesters arrested at Oregon National Primate Research Center in Hillsboro | OregonLive.com
PleasantonWeekly.com : 20 protesters arrested after blocking Castlewood Drive
700 Wall Street protesters arrested for blocking Brooklyn Bridge traffic « The Greenroom
Protesters block access to Capitol; 15 arrested - Albany - The Buffalo News
30 Anti-Fur Protesters Arrested at Neiman's - SFGate

Are you really going to continue on in your desperation to save face on this point?

Could that be because you do not understand what a DDoS attack does? And that, having made a bad comparison yourself, you now find yourself forced to defend it when it has obviously failed?
More vague claims without support or substance. Let me know what you have specifics to back anything you say.

The fact still remains that protesters cannot block a store entrance, and any equal prevention to a store making profit is equal to the store's bottom line. Please, can we get past your bad analogies now?
 
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Quantum Windbag

Quantum Windbag

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If there is a picket line outside a store it restricts access. the more picketers there are, the harder it is to get into the store. This happens even if the picketers are obeying the laws. DDoS works on the same principle, it blocks access to a website by tying up the server bandwidth.
You're still not understanding this concept. Picketers cannot block access. Or did you think it was like the movies where there are swarms of people that walk really fast across the path to the entrance, making it difficult for a store patron to gain access? More people can certainly stand NEXT TO the store entrance, but they cannot block it in any form.

This seems to be a point you are now struggling against despite me citing specific state laws. It's your claim. Perhaps you should provide some support to where it is legal instead of having me shoot down your claim on an individual state basis?

Protesters arrested for blocking Longview grain train | Local & Regional | KATU.com - Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News - Portland, Oregon
Justice Department Tougher On Abortion Protesters : NPR
Five protesters arrested at Oregon National Primate Research Center in Hillsboro | OregonLive.com
PleasantonWeekly.com : 20 protesters arrested after blocking Castlewood Drive
700 Wall Street protesters arrested for blocking Brooklyn Bridge traffic « The Greenroom
Protesters block access to Capitol; 15 arrested - Albany - The Buffalo News
30 Anti-Fur Protesters Arrested at Neiman's - SFGate

Are you really going to continue on in your desperation to save face on this point?

Could that be because you do not understand what a DDoS attack does? And that, having made a bad comparison yourself, you now find yourself forced to defend it when it has obviously failed?
More vague claims without support or substance. Let me know what you have specifics to back anything you say.

The fact still remains that protesters cannot block a store entrance, and any equal prevention to a store making profit is equal to the store's bottom line. Please, can we get past your bad analogies now?

You seem to think that protestors obey rules.

Protesters Block Store Where Vietnamese Man Wants Poster Hung - NYTimes.com

Can we get past that assumption and actually discuss reality?

As for my vague claims, you asked what the difference between a DDoS attack and actually taking down a site was, so I explained it in real world terms. For some obscure reason you seem to think that actually destroying a store is no different than blocking access to it. Since then you have been trying to justify your position.

Where am I being vague?
 

SmarterThanHick

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You seem to think that protestors obey rules.

Protesters Block Store Where Vietnamese Man Wants Poster Hung - NYTimes.com

Can we get past that assumption and actually discuss reality?

As for my vague claims, you asked what the difference between a DDoS attack and actually taking down a site was, so I explained it in real world terms. For some obscure reason you seem to think that actually destroying a store is no different than blocking access to it. Since then you have been trying to justify your position.

Where am I being vague?
I present state laws, as well as case after case across multiple states of where blockade results in arrest, and you attempt to refute it with a single article that showed a group of peaceful protesters sat around a closed store and didn't block a man who didn't show up? You're REALLY reaching now.

You want to discuss reality? Preventing a site from running is practically equivalent to taking it down. The bottom line is exactly the same in that the users do not have access to the information on that site, and any sales that are generated on the site drop to nothing. The REALITY you so desire lies in the PURPOSE of having a website, and no matter what purpose you examine, they are all equivalently blocked by either DDoS or take down.

I've given you reality of sites AND application to physical store locations. The best you can do is find irrelevant articles and nitpick on details that miss the point. Just give it up already.
 

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