The nature of political hacking represents a clear challenge to the legitimate use of political violence. It acts outside the traditional state infrastructures and mechanisms, and often against the state itself, which for many means that regardless of what good it brings it should be ethically discounted as an illegitimate actor threatening the social stability. Concerns over the ability of hackers to cause significant damage or harm to people’s lives and the critical infrastructure of the political community do have some merit. They are a highly closeted, elite and unknown quantity; their branding is menacing and for those on the outside there does not seem to be any means of controlling what they do. Indeed, the state has a long-held dominance as the only legitimate actor to use violence for good reason, including protecting people from harm, arbitrating disagreements and facilitating that the correct quantum of impact is being delivered to the correct people. However, this is becoming increasingly challenged, not least because the state and its representatives have shown themselves to be a direct threat to people’s vital interests. As such there can be an ethical space for political hacking when it acts to protect people from harm. In order to make this determination, however, there is a need for an explicit and systematic ethical framework that can recognize the ethical value of political hacking. One which helps guide the hacker community with clearer fundamental ethical principles, as well as how these principles can then be manifested in various mechanisms for guiding ethical behaviour, highlighting to the rest of the political community when to leave the hackers alone, and how this might work through real-world illustrative examples.
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