Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 13:50:36 -0600 (CST)
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Subject: A dirty war in Internet (analysis)
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(AME LA PAZ-News Service 27/IV/98 006-e) (Please translate and posting Cc

A dirty war in Internet (analysis).-

"Light writing, it advances faster than meteorites" J.L. Borges

By Miguel García Ramirez

  This article  -from my point of view- is an analysis of what has been
called Electronic Civil Disobedience on April
( We would like to say that this is
not a moral consideration but a political analysis of the juncture. I am
talking on behalf of myself and of those who are fighting for achieving the
peace by means of certain measures.
  I wouldn’t sustain this with a district attorney, but I think there is a
clear incitement to sabotage and hack those sites supporting the Zapatista
struggle. Or maybe I cannot read English very well, or I am a fool; or
perhaps both.
  Nevertheless I understand it like this: it is not a passive civil
disobedience but rather a specific and intrusive civil action supported on
quite fair political considerations.
  It is clear that there is a war in Internet the Zapatistas are wining, as
we, human and civil right defenders, have in part  won it as well. But this
war, and this is what is important, has been won within the boundaries of
the law.  They have been right, they have known how to put it forward, and
more and better sites have been designed. The number of visitors of the
Zapatistas  and the human and civil rights sites are ten times the number of
those visiting Mexican government and its allies sites; the information of
those sites is absolutely true; the same cannot be said about the government
sites. Besides, Internet is a connection link with the world for many
indigenous communities, and for many social organisations within Mexico.
  Together with the importance of the information in Internet, it is the
capacity for taking actions. Every day in Internet dozens –in fact,
thousands– of people decide to work together with other people– who surely
don’t know.
  In this sense, we (AME LA PAZ-Flights for Humanity-Atlanta Chiapas Team),
together with other people, managed to organise a medical assistance flight
from Massachusetts to Chiapas. The Medical equipment was picked up in
Atlanta, and it was taken directly to the refugees. None of us knew each
other; even the pilot and  copilot had never met each other before. We flew
over the hostile Chiapas airspace, and we succeeded in doing it, because
thanks to Internet we had obtained important supports watching over our
lives. These examples can be increased.
  The EZLN does not suggest or want the civil society supporting them to
take unlawful actions, not even actions that could be on the edge. They do
not want either that these actions could break the law of those countries
where they have representatives.
  As far as I know, the CNDM of the USA, where there is an official EZLN
representative, follows the US law to the letter. For this struggle for the
peace I’m talking about, and for the Zapatista fight, and the common
elements both have, the least convenient thing would be hackers attacking
-in the name of the Zapatism- sites and boxes. Several reasons can be given:
  Firstly, both the peace and the Zapatista fights are a struggle for
democracy, freedom and justice. It could seem useless to repeat it, but it
is the way to  show the world the injustice, the forgetting, and the need
for peace, bread, home, justice, and medicines the Mexican peasants,
indigenous population and the poor have. The way to do this is to use the
right means to co-ordinate the actions taken, and to approach and trust one
  It is a way to freedom, justice and democracy, where our truth is valid.
It is more our task to achieve peace than to break anything.
  Secondly, so far, the hostility centres on a  very high espionage,
subjects and addresses are tapped –a sustainable hypothesis-, although since
December, the anonymous messages, interrogations and menaces in Internet, as
well as the amount of false and lost e–mails have increased a lot.
  This hostile situation is not becoming worse so far, but who could hacking the
Secretariat of the Government site or of the Mexican Stock Market be good
for? The result would be that the next day the press would say the
Zapatistas are enemies of the freedom and communications and that they break
the law. It could only be good for the government; for instance, some weeks
ago, a site of the Secretariat of the Treasure was hacked. It takes only
three minutes to substitute the files, but they did not do it for two days.
They called the mass media and spread the news. Who could this be good for?
  In delicate situations such as this one has to be careful about trivial
pretexts, they can detonate the war. Do you remember the Gulf of Tonkin
matter or the Boston Tea Party? This couple of examples can illustrate the
USA history.
  I would like to remind of the danger of such actions assessing a recent
situation that happened in Mexico: a group of youths members of the FZLN
took a radio station. This station had the “strategic value” of being the
only system (MTV) that on TV had partially supported Marcos, broadcasting
long interviews with him and the support from some of the reporters, in a
very explicit way, for the release of Javier Elorriaga and the other
presumed Zapatistas in jail. On the other hand, this station did not
broadcast news. Therefore, its viewpoint could not be criticised, and to top
it all, the owner was the president of the broadcasters association. The
situation went through very dangerous points due to the intervention of a
SWAT group, that was about to produce a spilling of blood. The result was a
severe criticism against the Zapatistas, regarded as enemies of the freedom
of speech. The government utilised this event, ordered to arrest more than
ten youths and the journalists were encouraged  to be disloyal to the
  What can assure us that once the hackers war has started, we, who are
broadcasting from Chiapas and Mexico, will not be the probable , and
weakest, victims? Maybe is it wanted to justify a dirty war?
  Is it not absolutely necessary for the counter-insurgency plans to
discredit the information and to weaken the actions co-ordination? At the
same time, the Zapatistas and the achievement of the Peace causes would be
destroyed. Some months ago, someone from the USA told me about the idea of a
kind of cybernetic guerrilla. I immediately said I was against it because
the effect in short time can be the opposite of it was aimed to; mail
bombers, hackers, can be a very exciting challenge for those doing that, it
can mean for them a display of technology and knowledge. But a disaster for
us who are in Mexico, and also for our communications in Internet and all
around the world. It can be very exciting to trespass certain sites, for
instance of big corporations.
  But for us who are talking to the world from Mexico it is not a very
interesting idea; we don’t care for big banks and corporations. Where we
want to reach to is the minds and hearts of those navigating in the Web,
those are the doors, less spectacular, we want to trespass.
  Because this is what is important: Did somebody ask the Zapatistas  or
Marcos? Did somebody tell us “let’s encourage hackers and mail bombers”? Did
somebody ask us, webmasters in Mexico that are dealing not one but various
sites linked to the social movement, whether we considered such an action
convenient? Did they consult it with anyone? Was their action supported by
the NCDM in USA?
  It is not that we think a permission is necessary to take actions, but
there must be a consensus about what can affect us all and especially if
they are going to be taken in the name of the Zapatistas. Did anyone say:
let’s suggest –without breaking the law– actions that break the law or could
destroy or saturate important segments of the Mexican state, banks and the
stock market information system? Who can benefit from such actions when with
antiterrorist laws in the USA whose target is foreigners?
  We, the  Mexican, need the world solidarity, imagination and skills. We do
not need to resurrect the monster of the metropolis and colony; an action
such as the one suggested had to be consulted both with the Zapatistas and
the organisations that have sites from Mexico. Or perhaps, immersed in the
colonial  perception, we are considered  unable babies?
  Why now this criticism? We did not want to prevent your April 10 action;
we knew that because of the date nothing was going to happen; the Mexican
stock market closed on Friday and the Mexican government e-mail addresses
are mail boxes to trash. We do not want you to think that we defend the
Stock Market or the Chase Bank, only a wilful misunderstanding could lead to
such an idea. We consider it would have been more useful thousands of
personal, and not e-mails to the USA Congressmen and women, claiming
democracy, peace, and justice in Mexico, asylum for the  persecuted and the
suspension of any aid for arms. This would have really been effective. We
are writing this before April 10, but we are not going to spread it. First
we are trying to convince and not to hamper actions. Do it! we don’t agree,
but we respect your right to do it, so respect our right to disagree. Accept
our apologies: we think your intention is good, we don’t think any of you
have ill intentions. We also think your Electronic Civil
Disobedience on April is a brilliant, intelligent and well-planned proposal,
but it is unnecessary and dangerous.
  We have to let you know that we  are grateful for what you are doing for
Mexico, we really appreciate it but we have the right to tell you that the
struggle for the peace is within the law and not at the edge of it. And it
is like that because we are right, we say the truth, and thus, we deserve to
win, we deserve to live. But it is not that we are blinded about the law and
justice – although we are.
  The main reason is that it is a tactical and strategic error of tremendous
consequences to start an offence in Internet, when what is working and should be
consolidated is the increment, information, communication and articulation
and co-ordination of actions; when what is urgent is the preparation of
defensive mechanisms for our sites and servers.
  I would like to invite our colleagues the cyber-warriors to defend us. We
have a lot of hypothesis about how the e-mails are routed to espionage
centres, how they are robbed, how they menace us. I would like to invite the
cyber-warriors to apply their knowledge in defence of the freedom in
Internet. I would like to invite them to think about the important
contribution that would be to discover and prove the world how in Mexico the
Internet messages are spied and robbed, and that probably are lead to the USA.
  They are also other tasks, not as interesting but extremely necessary. For
instance, the net is being full with spams, a professional administrator
sometimes repeat the same message about Mexico even twelve times. We are
against limitations, but certain qualifications can improve the information
management. It is necessary to redesign many sites, to give them charm and
interactivity; some others have to be cleared, translated into more
languages; we could have international, virtual and physical (arranging the
subject, date and place) webmasters, and moderators meetings; banners and
links exchange systems should be established, as well as protocols for
alerts and urgent actions.
  We have to be ready for the counter-insurgency war in Internet –low
density war– that is taking place in Mexico. There are so many things to be
built; this is a race, and we have to run well and win it without stopping
to cheat the other runner, because this can lead to the fact that the other
runner does not want any longer to win but to prevent us from winning. We
would like to invite the cyber-warriors to escort us in the cyberspace, to
take care of our sites, criticise our www, and especially, to come
physically to Mexico; we will provide them accommodations, we will feed
them; you could teach us. But we want you to teach us to speak, not to speak
in the name of us; we want you to teach us to deal with computers, and not
that you deal with them; we want you to teach us to walk, but don’t walk for
us. We will show you the monster from the entrails. We will have a new page
in our space  for discussing this point, we will
translate it into Spanish and English.
  We fly over the Chiapas sky, we walk on its roads at night, we supply them
with a little help, we could die for operating a web page or in one of those
roads. In fact, we have already been threatened to be killed; we continue
working when you leave.
  Please, believe us, our words, like your intentions, are true; what we do
not need now is a dirty war in Internet –the enemy does need it-; more than
an offence we need a defensive plan.


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Electronic Civil Disobedience