Today’s the day. After a divisive election campaign, reality TV host and celebrity business person Donald Trump will be sworn in as the President of the United States today. With his fans cheering up around the country, there are also many who are protesting today’s inauguration in every state, including in Washington. But, one software engineer has proposed another form of protest for those who can’t make it to the streets of Washington. An old-school DDoS attack…
Is a “DDoS protest” even legal? Nope.
Before we go into the legality of this protest, first, some details about who has come up with the idea.
Juan Soberanis, a software engineer, is calling on (via PCW) netizens who don’t support Donald Trump to visit the Whitehouse.gov site to try and disrupt the website with a rather old-school tactic of using legitimate web traffic. No hiring of bots, nothing. Actual people visiting the website as an online sit-in protest.
“If you can’t make it to Washington, DC on inauguration day to protest Trump’s presidency, you can still fight for the cause by helping to take down whitehouse.gov as a show of solidarity for the lives impacted by Trump’s policy agenda,” he wrote in his pledge.
He continued his pledge with step by step instructions of his campaign titled “Occupy White House”.
It’s simple. By overloading the site with visitors, we will be able to demonstrate the will of the American people.
There are two ways to participate. You can manually go to www.whitehouse.gov on inauguration day, January 20, 2017 and refresh the page as often as you can throughout the day
or you can… automatically reload the page.
When enough people occupy whitehouse.gov, the site will go down […]
Please join us and stand up against this demagogue who is threatening our democracy and our security.
Soberanis has published these details on a website, protester.io (Occupy White House protest is currently inaccessible). He continued in a YouTube video, “We haven’t lost our democracy just yet, but it’s definitely under threat. In order to defend and revitalize our democracy, we have to be mobile and take action”.
We can’t be armchair Democrats or armchair Republicans anymore. It’s time to just simply be Americans.
Okay. Before everyone who doesn’t like Trump gets excited, let’s see if the “Occupy White House” digital protest is legally “okay” like the old-school sit-in protest. Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, sending a command to a computer “with the intent to cause damage” can be taken as a criminal offense. Stephen Gates, a research intelligence analyst at NSFOCUS also reiterated that the protest-DDoS will be like any other DDoS attack, which is a crime.
“Participating in a DDoS attack is a crime, regardless if you use a tool, a script, a botnet for hire, or a finger and a keyboard. If protesters move forward with this demonstration, they must remember that their source IP addresses in most cases will not be spoofed, meaning law enforcement can easily track those who participate.”
But, this law hasn’t stopped hacktivists (like Anonymous) from using DDoS attacks to take websites offline. 13 people affiliated with Anonymous were charged under this Act in 2013 for launching DDoS attacks on government entities and law firms. While that doesn’t always happen, it could.
It may become an acceptable form of protesting a few years from now, but currently it “is” a crime. However, Soberanis doesn’t see the proposed protest as breaking the law.
“It’s the equivalent of someone marching on Washington, DC. Civil disobedience has always been part of the American democratic process.”