The White Hat Hacker’s Ethic appeared in Steven Levy’s 1984 Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. The Ethic has two tenets that were formed in the 1960s and 1970s at MIT: (1) That access to computers and anything that might teach someone something about the way the wired (and now wireless) world works should be free; and (2) that all information should be free.
In the context in which these two tenets were formed, computers were actually research machines, and “information” was software and information systems. The warning at the foundation of the White Hat Ethic is that information hoarding by businesses and governments alike is inefficient and slows down the critical evolution of technology as well as information-dependent economies.
See Also: Levy, Steven Books; White Hat Ethic.
Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.