Firstly, before it happened I told a lot of people I knew that hacking MUST be part of how a lot of big news stories break.
I was envisaging ethical hackers finding their way to the true bollocks behind the 45 minute claim, and future hackers holding the police force to ransom by threatening to reveal the murderer of Menezes to all of the Brazilian press.
Recently, in the wake of the News International story, I thought of yet more valid uses of "ethical" hacking... The killer of Stephen Lawrence may well be genuinely racist, and therefore in private emails somewhere, on a hard drive, lying in some old copy of outlook express, is a discussion in which the murderer of Stephen Lawrence confesses to his crime. If it was not a racist attack itself, then that's not likely. I don't know enough about the facts (the police sort of lost most of them, I gather) to know therefore if a salient hacker would end up with that particular name.
Anyway, so these are the things potentially that could be found by hackers.
But back to the proper line of reasoning of the "moral hacker", the so-called timelord (well if the metaphor fits wear it, but get a better suit for god's sake) I think that of course hacking should not be done by people for anything like this at all, certainly not for helping newspapers break stories.
Of course if acts of hacking can avert wars and save lives, no doubt that's fair. But they do say that all is fair in love and war. Fergie, and other big stories in the press are not love and war.
So what will happen? I'll tell you what will happen. One or two stooge crackers* have gone and helped News International, so you can BET right now a dozen fleets of hackers spread from one side of the country to the other side of the planet are preparing to screw over News International and make them scared to EVER tread on OUR turf again. They can't use us for their political games. Hackers do not do politics, and if they wanna bring us into it, we will wipe the muthas out...
Formerly vaguely liberal-moderate, more recently moderate-to-neoconservative (hackers too were affected by the collapse of socialism). There is a strong libertarian contingent which rejects conventional left-right politics entirely. The only safe generalization is that hackers tend to be rather anti-authoritarian; thus, both paleoconservatism and ‘hard’ leftism are rare. Hackers are far more likely than most non-hackers to either (a) be aggressively apolitical or (b) entertain peculiar or idiosyncratic political ideas and actually try to live by them day-to-day.
*maybe it would be simplest to see "cracker" as "criminal hacker" - since "hackers" are not criminals, only crackers are.