Policy Effects of Media Portrayals of Hacktivists

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

Tuesday 13th March, 2012

5:00pm to 6:00pm (CST)

Hollywood and the international news media delight in presenting us with depictions of hackers and hacktivists as subterranean Ohmian "Super Users," capable of hacking *all* the ISPs with a few keystrokes in between shots of Red Bull. How do these depictions, both in fiction and news coverage of hacktivist actions, affect the development and implementation of Internet policy and regulations? In this talk, I'll be examining how media coverage and depictions of hackers and hacktivists has changed as the hacktivist movement has developed since the 1980s. I'll be describing how such coverage, from "Sneakers" to photo galleries of Fawkes-masked Anonymous protests, influences policy on subjects from intellectual property and communications regulations to information security and cyberwar. I'll be questioning what these trends of laws, regulations, and apparent media biases mean for the future of hacktivism and digital activism.

About the speaker

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Molly Sauter

Researcher, MIT: Center for Civic Media

Molly Sauter is a researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab, and a graduate student in Comparative Media Studies. Previously, she worked as a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. She studied Philosophy and the History and Philosophy of Science at St John’s College and the University of Pittsburgh, where she was a Brackenridge Fellow. Her research interests include hacker culture, technology, and practice; transgressive modes of political engagement; internet law and regulation; internet culture; human-computer interaction; information security; and the philosophy of technology


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3 attendees

  • Katie Sunstrom
  • Coen
  • Molly Sauter

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Time 5:00pm6:00pm CST

Date Tue 13th March 2012


Salon A, AT&T Conference Center

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