The ethics of hacks and leaks


We can all agree that breaking into someone’s house is wrong.  It’s a violation of his private property rights.  If it happened to you, you would feel violated.  And that feeling would be justified.  A person has the right to decide whom he allows to use his property.

But what if someone broke into another’s person house because he correctly believed that people were being harmed there?  Let’s say, for example, that your neighbor has kidnapped a woman and is keeping her in his house against her will.  Surely her right to her freedom trumps his right to privacy and whom he decides is allowed into his home especially since enforcing his rights would entail violating hers.

If you and your neighbors decided to bust his doors down to rescue this woman, no one would see you as criminals.  You would be treated as heroes.  This is fairly straight forward.

Let’s change the scenario around a bit.  What if, instead of talking about a home, we talk about an email account or a computer network?  It would be wrong to break into (i.e. hack) it without a good reason.  If the email account or network, however, were being used for nefarious reasons, then breaking into it to show the victims what they are subject to is probably justified.

While I still do not believe that the Russian government was responsible for the DNC leaks—even though Donald Trump apparently now thinks so—even if they did actually hack the DNC, what exactly should we be mad about?  Why should we be angry about the exposure of how terrible politicians are behind closed doors?  And it is not as though we can chalk this up to “It’s none of my business if these people are unsavory!”  These are people who are trying to deceive you into giving them power over you.

Maybe it’s just me, but that should be taken fairly seriously.  They do not give you a choice once they take power.  What they say is enforceable by law.  So if their true intentions are not what they say they are when they are in public, you have the right to know.