Science & Technology

Barrett Brown Talks Anarchy, Hacktivism With NPR

The Dallas-based journalist and ex-con was brought on the radio to scare NPR listeners with the threat of 'global chaos.'

Barrett Brown—Dallas-based journalist, former D Magazine columnist and story subject, ex-con, avid vaper—was on NPR for a piece that feels very old-fashioned in its fear of both anarchy and computers.

In “An Anarchist Explains How Hackers Could Cause Global Chaos,” Brown talks to Laura Sydell about the past and future of “hacktivism” and his ongoing efforts to upend the global order. There’s a digression concerning the television show Mr. Robot, which features an Anonymous-esque group that shares an affinity for silly masks and corporate cyberattacks.

Anyways, here’s Brown, bad boy:

He hates arbitrary power and always has. He is an anarchist who believes the U.S. government is fundamentally corrupt. And he says most Americans are too complacent to do anything about it.

“That’s what … in part brings me to contempt for the American citizenry,” he says. “Obviously, I have no respect for the laws, for the government or for the voters.”

And Brown, revolutionary:

So he is designing a software program called Pursuance, which he says will take hacktivism into the future. It will be fully encrypted, anyone could use it to sort through a trove of hacked documents, and it could even be used to recruit a team of hackers.

Brown says when people tweet and post their opinions on social media it’s just “slactivism.” “The next great act of hacktivism, if it really is going to be great, it has to be an act of reaffirming the idea of civic duty,” he says. He says he wants to provide a mechanism for people who do feel that sense of civic duty to really have impact.

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