Cyber vigilantes — doing more harm than good
It seems we have another cyber vigilante floating around the internet who is hell bent on taking down jihadist websites. He/she is not the first and won’t be the last, sadly. Thankfully, most have stopped when they realise what they are doing is harmful to counter terrorism efforts. Our latest cyber vigilante however has not realised this and we’ve had quite the heated debate on twitter today.
While people like this seem to think that they are doing a good thing, they fail to realise (or *just don’t care*) that they are impeding lawful investigations and intelligence gathering.
It is up to law enforcement agencies and other agencies to determine whether or not sites need to be removed. It is not the task of a cyber vigilante, who does not have access to the reasons why a particular site may be allowed to continue. Nor do they have the lawful authority to take down sites.
Taking the law into your own hands is not acceptable. And in cases like this can be extremely harmful to active investigations. I can’t stress enough, nor can I explain via this medium how harmful it is. But I speak from experience.
I’ve tried to explain this to the vigilante in question who seems to believe they are on a personal mission to stop terrorism. Whoever it is doesn’t want to listen. And certainly doesn’t seem to understand that their activities do more harm than good.
This type of activity is extremely short sighted and obstructs investigations. Let me say that again, it obstructs investigations.
Sure it’s gratifying and in this case the person in question seems to enjoy publicising his/her exploits and may even think they are doing an honourable thing. But at the end of the day his/her activities are obstructing the ability of agencies lawfully tasked with counter terrorism to do their job. It makes it harder for them to do their job, harder for them gather evidence to prosecute people, harder for them to gather important intelligence. Intelligence that helps keep countries safe from the threat of terrorism.
This person needs to do the responsible thing and stop. And put their obvious talent to better use and contribute something that helps, rather than hinders, the important job these agencies have in keeping people safe.
All this person is doing is making it more dangerous out there and harder for agencies to keep people safe. There’s no honour in that.