Question: Who is/are “Anonymous”? Answer: No one/everyone.

15/03/2011

Just read about the “hacker group” Anonymous’ release of apparently incriminating emails from the Bank of America. This story really annoys me. Not because I’m a Bank of America fan – I’m pissed off with the Guardian for describing Anonymous as a “hacker group”.

The Wikipedia article on Anonymous. describes it well – it says:

is an Internet meme originating 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many on-line community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain.[1] It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.

Anonymous is not a hacker group in the sense you’d usually expect: there’s no organization, no hierarchy, no agreed agenda. Anyone with the required know-how and/or tools can do some cyber-vandalism or cut-and-paste someone’s email, then say it was done by Anonymous.

So who is Anonymous? Everyone. No one. Me. You. Anyone. Please bear that in mind next time you see a report that “Anonymous” did something.

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2600’s Emmanuel Goldstein says that “Anonymous” DDOS attacks/protests are bad… FFS…

23/12/2010

Emmanuel Goldstein, aka Eric Corley, editor of the hacker magazine 2600 and presenter of the weekly podcast and New York WBAI radio show “Off The Hook”, said on this week’s show that he thought the DDOS attacks being aimed at anti-Wikileaks organizations like Amazon by so-called members of the pseudo-group “Anonymous” are bad, counterproductive and basically a hypocritical way to protest against censorship. What I understand from his argument is that he thinks censoring the censors is just as bad as Wikileak’s opponents attacking the messenger instead of the message.

Thing is, Emmanuel is wrong wrong wrong. I see the widespread use of tools like LOIC (the “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” program) to mess with companies like Amazon, Mastercard, PayPal and others who’ve decided to stop doing business with Wikileaks, as similar to the flash protests which saw massive chain stores like Top Shop in the UK being forced to close because the stores were suddenly filled with hundreds of students and other victims of government cuts who think the owners of these stores, like Sir Philip Green the billionaire owner of Top Shop cynically avoids paying tax by being officially “domiciled” in some tax haven country, while he advises the government to make massive cuts in public spending. The flash protests at billionaire tax dodgers’ businesses, and the denial of service attacks on companies who’ve been unmasked as agents of US foreign policy, are the new way of getting our voices heard. In 1968, workers and students in Paris protested together against their government’s obscene policies, and direct action in other countries forced change; now, in the age of the internet, these new forms of protest are being tried, to see if they can bring about the social change that the whole world urgently needs.

To be honest, I’m a little worried that something has been done to Emmanuel by Wikileaks’ Swedish governmental enemies. During the show he told us a story about a shopkeeper whose CCTV system caught images of the Stockholm suicide bomber – and he actually said that CCTV is good because it can film these kinds of events. The bombing was a tragedy, obviously; but Emmanuel would usually recognize that any good resulting from CCTV is just a by-product of our Orwellian 1984-like surveillance culture. It’s pretty ironic that Emmanuel took his name from the character Emmanuel Goldstein in the novel 1984 – a mysterious, manufactured bogeyman created to justify Big Brother’s totalitarian control of society.

“Off the Hook” is usually a great show, and I’d normally recommend it to anyone with at least a couple of brain cells to rub together. But if Big Brother really has done a number on Emmanuel Goldstein… yikes, where did I put my tin-foil hat?!!!

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

15/12/2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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