Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

It's a Thought

A lawyer for one of the defendants charged in the feds’ big ‘Anonymous’ case compared distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to civil rights era sit-ins and that time President Barack Obama told supporters to call their member of Congress, overwhelming switchboards.

Stanley Cohen, representing 20-year-old Mercedes Haefer on a pro-bono basis, told TPM that he got involved in the case because he didn’t like the way the feds were dealing with Anonymous.

DDoS attacks are kind of funny examples. A regular DoS attack leverages technology to let one person be a sit-in. That’s like being the only guy at a sit-in, but bringing a bunch of mannequins to clog up the business. That’s less an “exercise of free speech” and more “being that guy with a big backpack the waitress keeps tripping over.”

But a DDoS is more analogous to a bunch of people denying easy access to a lunch counter; at least until you start considering federal laws prohibiting unauthorized access to computer systems. The other thing to recall is that the people protesting at those lunch counters were convicted of trespassing and unauthorized blackness or whatever the stupid Jim Crow laws prohibited.

With the benefit of hindsight and an enlightened 21st Century perspective, we see now that the protesters were morally superior. But in Alabama in the 1950s, the guys behind the analog denial of service attacks went to jail.