Dutch opposition party D66 has proposed the legalization of DDoS attacks as a form of protest. Activists would have to warn of their action in advance, giving websites time to prepare for their attack.
Kees Verhoeven, the campaign's leader, argues that it is strange that the fundamental right to demonstrate doesn’t extend to the online realm. The coming years would bring more instances of hacktivism, and it would be reasonable to introduce legislation to regulate, not ban it, he says.
Verhoeven proposes that DDoS attacks be legalized so long as the protesters say when they will start their action. That way, a website would have time to prepare for the attack, just like an office building has time to get ready for a rally next to it.
The proposal also includes restrictions on transmitting information about a website's visitors, as well as stricter rules against e-mail spying, and other measures to bolster online privacy.
DDoS attacks, popular with hacktivist groups such as Anonymous, would therefore become a legal means to express dissatisfaction with a company or a government.
One DDoS attack per year would cost over $10,000 for a financial services company that makes 25 per cent of its sales online, according to Internet traffic management firm NeuStar UltraDNS. If the brand reputation of the company heavily depends on the performance of the website, one DDoS attack a year could end up costing over $20,500.
However, DDoS attacks are relatively innocuous compared to other forms of hacking, such as phishing and virus infections, which can cost companies and individuals millions of dollars.
Nevertheless, DDoS attacks are so far equated to hacking and are illegal in the Netherlands, as well as many other countries.