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One of the issues that interested me the most from this week was the relationship between hacking/leaking and legality with respects to ethics. When “much of hacking is fully legal” (p.100 Coleman) then what does ultimately define the ethics of hacking? (I am thinking about the conversation between lawyers in citizenfour where they claim that the case is 95% dealing with politics and 5% dealing with law) Also, in which ways is Snowden fitting or not in the category of the ethics of hacking? I pose these questions in an attempt to undo the mythology surrounding the early figure of the hacker (hacker as robin hood, or hacker as criminal) and investigate what does the notion of hacker/leaker entails today with respects to its ethical stance.

Citizenfour makes evident some of the contradictions present within current ethical questions surrounding information leaks. Here, the ethical decision of how to reveal information is passed on to the mass media. Snowden aims to open a space for debate and, in order to do so, he leaves the news agencies with the decisions of how to better disclose the confidential information. The question would be: To what extent can The Guardian be aligned with Snowden’s interest in spurring debate? In which ways do these news agencies shape the way the debate takes form (politically and ethically)? Even when the reporters were individually chosen for specific ethical reasons, to what extent are the enterprises they represent promoting debate and not just revealing information? Should the decision to reveal information be tied to an ethics of unpacking its consequences and promoting public debate?


In this recent interview with Snowden, John Oliver proposes that one of the ways to get the American population interested in deepening the debate about government surveillance is by letting people know that the government has the potential to archive their nude pictures in databases whenever they send them through email servers like Gmail. Through satire (a very weird type of satire considering the topic), Oliver connects the two main topics from this week by highlighting a very explicit way of exposure revealed through Snowden’s leaks. He is trying to make Snowden’s findings more pressing by relating them to conditions of individual exposure (particularly of nude pictures). Whether Oliver manages to perpetuate a spectacle or actually spur debate is up to the viewer to determine.