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Germany

Opinion: Hacking Against Neo-Nazis?

Even though the results didn't come as a surprise, many Germans were shocked at the success of extreme right-wing parties celebrating their success in two state elections. German bloggerville also had something to say.

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Bloggers want to know why his Web site is safe from cyber attacks

Even journalists, when not officially at work, have an opinion they bring to the world via their weblogs. Recently, they've begun wondering why hackers aren't interested in cyber attacks on radical right-wing Web sites.

"What is wrong with German hackers? Anyone can surf over to the NPD or similar trash without a problem," wrote Gero von Randow, an editor at the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, in his weblog Megawatt, referring to Germany's extremist National Party.

Grafik Weblog p178

Everyone in bloggerville has plenty to say -- about everything

"I thought exactly the same thing yesterday: helpless, horrifying anger. All kinds of sites get hacked, why not those," added freelance journalist Manfred Heinze, who writes Industrial Technology and Witchcraft.

What the esteemed Mr. von Randow and the industrial warlock Heinze really wanted to say was that hackers should be required to forget about their liberal, democratic underpinnings and get cracking on hacking their way into the undemocratic, unpopular, anti-foreigner, racist sites that give the world a terrible view of Germany. But what can they really do that?

Attacks without effects

Landtagswahl 2004 in Sachsen: Holger Apfel, NPD feiert

Members of Germany's National Party celebrate their place in Saxony's parliament

In order to avoid any misunderstandings, even the author of this text got ill when he heard how successful the NPD and its fellow right-wing party the German People's Union (DVU) were on election day. The smile on the NPD candidate's face at his awkward yet still haunting appearance after the election didn't turn only the author's stomach.

But cyber attacks against neo-Nazis would only have a limited effect -- if any at all. The images that come to mind of a person secretly changing a Web site's content or crippling servers when we hear the word "hacker" are full of misconceptions. Tim Prirtlove's weblog Künstlerisch-Wissenschaftliche Konfusion (artistic-scientific confusion) points out that the "evil" hackers who are capable of these feats seldom take instruction in choosing their targets. Not to mention that cyber attacks are illegal -- regardless of what sites they target.

Election success via the Internet?

The question remains whether the far-right's rise is due to the Internet. The number of potential extreme-right voters in Saxony and Brandenburg who are using the Internet to form their opinion is probably fairly low. As unpleasant as the election results are, the extreme-right would have achieved them even without their Web sites.

Plakate der rechtsextremen NPD, auf denen die Schließung der Grenze für Lohndrücker gefordert wird, hängen am 16.08.2004 an Lichtmasten einer verkehrsreichen Straße in Leipzig

Radical political parties didn't need to rely only on the Internet in their campaigns

A look around bloggerville makes one thing very clear: Even complicated topics can be discussed in a variety of forms, styles and political hues without the actual concerns being forgotten.

The fifth article of Germany's constitution and the first amendment of the US constitution, both of which deal with freedom of opinion, show that emotional issues can be and need to be discussed in objective ways, a suggestion the two journalists above may want to take to heart before bungling up an issue.

Readers in the German and international weblog community have reason to be pleased -- there's a lot of trash out there on the World Wide Web, but it's also still possible to find plenty of moving, engaging and commentaries.

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