The loosely organized hackers of Anonymous don't just launch distributed denial-of-service attacks for the lulz. They do it to send a message, which is why they've petitioned the Obama administration to recognize DDoS as a legal form of protest.
The petition, which was filed on the White House's We the People website, argues that DDoS "is not a form of hacking in any way" and that it's really not much different than repeatedly hitting the refresh button in your web browser, albeit on a much larger scale:
It is, in that way, no different than any "occupy" protest. Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.
The petition goes on to demand that anyone who has been jailed for participating in a DDoS attack should be immediately released – a nice touch – and that anything related to the attack should be expunged from their criminal records.
DDoS attacks are indeed one of the go-to methods used when Anonymous wants to make a point. The group used the technique to take down UK government websites in August in protest of the treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and again in November in retaliation for Israel's bombing of sites in Gaza.
Not all such attacks are launched for similarly high-minded reasons, however, and given the recent spate of cyberattacks on US banks – which are now believed to have been orchestrated by the Iranian government – this petition is unlikely win much sympathy from the White House.
Not to mention the small problem that the We the People site seems to have become a favorite forum for pranks and jokes. Recent oddball petitions have included one request to build a real-life Death Star, and another to remake the American justice system in Judge Dredd's image.
Then again, I guess that means the pro-DDoS petition isn't actually the silliest idea we've heard.
The petition does not indicate who originally filed it, or whether it represents the work of an organized group or just one person. But hey, this is Anonymous after all, and if you say you're affiliated, you are.
Whoever filed it, though, they don't have much company so far. The petition will need to reach a goal of 25,000 signatures to receive an official response from the Obama administration. As of this writing, it had just 681. ®