Is Hacking More Effective Than Protesting in Person?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The Chicago Police Department has reportedly been hacked in advance of the NATO Summit in the city this weekend. Thousands of protesters are expected to show up, and the police are bracing themselves for riots. Why travel to Chicago when you can protest from the comfort of your home?

Chicago's foremost police blog, Second City Cop, reports:

NATO protestors have infiltrated the CPD computers with a worm that is wreaking havoc across the board. 35th Street and OEMC are in a full panic. The entire Department Intranet is in danger of a meltdown on an unimaginable scale, just in time for a potential "mass arrest" situation this weekend that would bring the Department to a grinding halt. (from our e-mail)


Second City Cop cites multiple reports that CPD computer systems have been so hamstrung that processing a simple arrests can be infuriating difficult.

The Chicago Police Department has been preparing since last year for what many are predicting will be a maelstrom on the scale of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. There have been multiple training sessions for the police about riot formations and the department invested in two $20,000 long-range acoustic cannons capable of blowing out the eardrums of any rowdy protesters.


And for all that preparation, all it takes is a little computer bug to shut the department down. We can't confirm that the attack was specifically targeted at the police, but the bottom line is that somehow or another, the work of coder is wreaking havoc on the police and the city—it's not a bunch of kids on the street.


The goal of protesters in this weekend will be to shut down Chicago and the NATO Summit, and you'd better believe the cops on the street will be ready and busting heads to make sure that doesn't happen. But will that even matter? Consider two events in January as a possible alternative to in-person protests: The legal SOPA blackout protest, and the anonymous revenge hacks against the DoJ, RIAA, and MPAA. These are two flavors of online activism with the same moral: Sometimes it's more effective to protest with code. [Second City Cop and ABC Chicago]