When in September 1995 President Jacques Chirac announced that France would run a series of nuclear tests in the Polynesian
atoll of Mururoa, a group of Italian artists decided to exploit the technical properties of the nascent internet to make a
political statement. The call for action invited activists to join “a demonstration of 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 netusers all
together making part of a line crossing French Government’s sites. The result of this strike will be to stop for an hour the
network activities of the French Government” (Tozzi, n.d.). On 21 December, ten websites, including that of the Nuclear Energy
Agency, were attacked simultaneously by thousands of users who continuously reloaded the pages, making them temporarily unavailable.
It was the first ‘netstrike’, or network strike, a type of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. According to its promoters,
a netstrike is “the networked version of a peaceful sit-in. The metaphor that best represents it is that of a number of people
that walk on pedestrian crossings with signs and banners, if their number is really big they can stop traffic for a noticeable
period of time” (Tozzi, n.d.). A decade later, a decentralised network going under the mass noun of Anonymous launched a disruption
campaign on the web in defence of freedom of expression online. These “digital Robin Hoods” (Carter, 2012) engaged in several
DDoS attacks against institutional and business websites, including Amazon and Mastercard. The Mururoa netstrike and Anonymous’s
web disruptions are instances of hacktivism.