Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anonymous and the digital battlefield

As most of us browse the internet, check emails, facebook, tweet, check the news and weather, we are unaware of a war that has been brewing for almost a decade and seems as if it is about to spill onto our screens and change the very nature of the internet.  Anonymous started as an internet meme on the website 4chan conceptualizing the idea of a hive of online and offline members decentralized “existing as an anarchic digitized global brain”.  This idea manifest over the years with ‘Anonymous’ carrying out small isolated website ‘hacks’ apparently solely for entertainment and seemingly without direction for a small internet community that would recognize the meme.

Since 2008 however the Anonymous collective have been closely associated with international ‘hacktivism’ with a much more specific focus.  These hacks have been higher profile often in retaliation to anti-digital piracy movements, internet censorship or civil rights violations.  A high priority target for Anonymous over the past 3 years has been the church of scientology.  When the church removed a leaked interview of Tom Cruise from youtube Operation Chanology (OpChan) began.  Anonymous called the church a form of internet censorship and after a video called “Message to Scientology” was posted on youtube using phrases like “campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things” scientology websites were hit with DDoS attacks coupled with prank calls and black faxes to global scientology centers.  This attack sparked global press for the group and massive internet support with crowds of protesters sporting the famous Guy Fawkes mask from the film ‘V for Vendetta’.

Since the OpChan the digital collective have grown in stature and ability becoming a serious force to be reckoned with online.  2011 was a big year for anonymous.  The group stepped up yet another notch hitting major international corporations and governments.  Notably, during the ‘Arab Spring operations’, Egyptian and Tunisian government websites were taken down by Anonymous and protests were arranged and coordinated by Anonymous throughout whilst keeping the world informed of the state of affairs.

Most recently Anonymous in the wake of the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills and the take down of the popular have declared war on all those who would sensor or oppress urging all who will listen to arms inviting people to “Get your ass behind a proxy and join the raid”.

For all Anonymous seems to be, reckless is not one.  Over the years Anonymous has allegedly retrieved terabytes of sensitive data from various organizations which it has said “would be irresponsible to release”.  This coupled with things like ‘Operation Darknet’ the directed assault on child pornography websites in October 2011 where they took down 40 sites and released 1500 names of frequent users to the FBI and Interpol.

The elusiveness of Anonymous springs from its structure.  Ideas are put forward and justified on an iRC channel.  These are listened to and attacks are directed to the most popular target, with no leader or names this could be considered the purest most incorruptible form of democracy.  With no central leadership, direct agenda and of course proxys the group will remain ghost like - uncatchable but real enough to scare anyone who deals in secrets.  Expect to see more of Anonymous as we move through 2012.

We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

                - Anonymous

for more reading refer to:
or some hilarious interviews on youtube with the members such as this one:
or one of other millions of news and reports and interviews and comments on anonymous.

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