Hackers take aim at GOP

Tuesday, 17 August 2004, 12:30 PM EST

Online protests targeting GOP websites could turn out to be more than symbolic during this month's Republican National Convention, possibly blocking a critical communications tool for the party.

In the past, activists have been able to shut down the website of, say, the World Economic Forum for a few hours. But the impact of such a takedown was nebulous at best: It's hard to argue the organization really suffered from a few-hour lag in posting its press releases online.

In this year's presidential race, however, campaign websites have moved beyond the margins. During John Kerry's acceptance speech in Boston last month, for example, his website was visited by 50,000 people an hour, according to comScore Networks, the online traffic-measuring firm. That's a droplet compared to the millions who'll watch the convention on TV. But taking down a campaign website would nevertheless remove a critical tool for reaching the public -- and likely generate a slew of stories in the mainstream media about the crash.

By Noah Shachtman at Wired.

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