How Hacking Has Historically Been Associated With Shady Behavior Or Criminal Connotations?

How Hacking Has Historically Been Associated With Shady Behavior Or Criminal Connotations?

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Hacking has historically been associated with shady behavior or criminal connotations. It is very rare that a person condones hacking or thinks of it as anything other than a crime. However, in his article “Academic Freedom and the Hacker Ethic”, Tom Cross challenges us to redefine a hacker and what they actually do. He forces the audience to think as he states that “knowing how to do something that might be harmful is not the same as causing harm” (Cross, 38). Using this powerful statement, Cross uses his article to give the reader a new take on hacking. He proceeds to explain that often times, the information that we receive as a public is a result of hacking into government systems. He provides us with a new perspective as he divulges the fact that the government hides a lot of information from us with the belief that ignorance is safety. This “ignorance” as they call it, however, is usually crucial information that we deserve to know. Cross’s article has immense influence as he describes hacking as pursuing information and states that “pursuit of knowledge is an inalienable right, tied directly to the freedom of speech” (Cross, 39).
The main question Cross addresses throughout his thesis is whether or not it is right for information to be withheld from us as people with basic rights. When speaking of hacking, one often thinks of a person going into forbidden files and retrieving information that is not meant for their eyes. Through this question of whether or not we have a right to pursue knowledge, Cross designates hacking as a means of accessing information that is necessary to our awareness as citizens. Information that is withheld from us by members of the government who wish to keep it secret. Despite what people may thin...


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... apply the knowledge they acquire.
Tom Cross’s article “Academic Freedom and the Academic Ethic” was a great read because it truly changed my perception of hackers and provided me with a new perspective of what hacking can actually bring to the table. I always believed that hacking was a bad thing done by malicious people. I now realize that thought there are bad hackers, many hackers follow an ethical code when acquiring information and deciding what to make of it. I have been able to pursue a lot of information largely in part because of hackers. As Cross says, “academic freedom should be restricted only as an absolute last resort, not as the fundamental basis of our national strategies for security and technological development in the 21st century” (Cross, 40) and after reading this article, I have both a new definition and appreciation for the term hacking.




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