While I applauded some of their efforts in the past, Anonymous has gone too far. As Hot Air’s Allahpundit wrote about earlier this week, Anonymous, along with other Julian Assange and WikiLeaks supporters, attacked VISA, Mastercard, as well as the websites as prominent figures, like Sarah Palin, were attacked in what is being called “Operation: Payback.” Aside from the blogs, this story has also been reported in the mainstream media. One such news outlet, the Financial Post, where Jameson Berkow is reporting on Anonymous’ failed attack on Amazon.com and PayPal, a message was left from one of the group’s members, anon9001.
Wikileak’s release of the diplomatic cables is a powerful act of transparency in a world that sees much lauding of the term but precious little practice. The attempts to silence Wikileaks are an equally worrying act of censorship. What is clear is that our Western governments, in spite of the liberal democratic values and norms enshrined in their many constitutions, are ever more eager to push for a system of restrictive internet governance that threatens this final frontier of free expression and association
The principles of liberty that this represents; the attack on the internet, which is so dear to my generation, that this represents, these are the reasons why I have supported and perhaps even participated in Anonymous’ attacks on the corporations and government institutions which have conspired to silence Wikileaks. These are the same principles that have driven countless individuals, known and anonymous, before us to take part in the same type of protest and action. Our support for the DDOS attacks online today is the same as support for the sit-ins of yesteryear.
This is a watershed moment in the history of free speech on the internet; a cyberspace equivalent of the May 1968 student protests in Paris, or the 1969 Vietnam marches in the United States. We are not agitating for something new, we are not revolutionaries. We are resisting the destruction of something old: the free internet which has characterized our lives and our experiences up to this point.
What the outcome will be, remains to be seen.
I am Anonymous, and like thousands of other men and woman, mothers and husbands sat at computers in homes and offices around the world, I am adding my one small voice to many voices, so that we might be heard:
The Internet belongs to us, and we want it to stay that way
Many voices? According to Berkow’s article, they didn’t have the numbers to bring down Amazon.com, which might mean many of the group’s members are realizing that they have gone too far. Aside from demonstrating historical ignorance, anon9001’s comment shows that Anonymous, a group which claims to fight against perceived tyranny, is itself tyrannical. How else are we supposed to interpret the final line of that comment? Only tyrants speak in such absolutes. The internet wasn’t created for only them, and they have no reasonable claim to the “information superhighway.”
So what does one say about Anonymous? What are their motivations? While members like anon9001 claim to be defenders of liberty, they are very selective about who’s rights they choose to defend. The truth is that to Anonymous, rights only belong to those they believe deserve them. Last time I checked, neither Sarah Palin nor Gene Simmons, a past target of the group’s attacks, is wanted on sexual assault charges in Sweden, let alone the various charges Assange and his group are likely to face for leaking sensitive information. How is it that this serial offender, as John Perazzo from FrontPageMag.com pointed out earlier this year, worthy of any support, let alone theirs? It isn’t just myself who recognizes this hypocrisy though. Returning to the attacks on Gene Simmons, as a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America stated, “It’s troubling that these groups seem more concerned about the rights of those who steal and copy films, music, books, and other creative resources than the rights of American workers who are producing these products.”
It isn’t just individual rights that Anonymous threatens with these campaigns, but by supporting WikiLeaks, they are also attacking those who defend the democratic values and norms enshrined in various constitutions throughout the Western world. anon9001 and other Anonymous members are downright self-righteous, believing that their defense of WikiLeaks, which is not only undermining American diplomacy, as Michelle Malkin has pointed out, but the war effort in Afghanistan by exposing Afghan informants, is somehow justified. Do they not understand that the leaking of this information has put these Afghanis, as well as their families, at risk to Taliban retaliation? It is clear they don’t. Anonymous is dedicated to a “means justifies the ends” approach, and if defending WikiLeaks, which may already have blood on its hands as a result of releasing these sensitive documents, is seen as beneficial in their fight against all forms of censorship, then it doesn’t matter who suffers. No reasonable person could justify this, but then again, this group is far from reasonable isn’t it?
Operation: Payback is far from the watershed moment in history anon9001 claims it to be as it has failed to do anything but get a mention in media. This is, however, not taking into account one of the unintended consequences of this campaign; There will now be additional pressure put on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who are already conducting an investigation into this group for its attack on U.S. Copyright Office, to bring those responsible for these latest attacks to justice. It should come as no surprise that a group which pays homage to Guy Fawkes, the leader of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and inspiration for Alan Moore’s V, the anarchist terrorist from the graphic novel V for Vendetta, would eventually come to the attention of law enforcement. Anonymous’ latest actions are well beyond that of simple cyber-bullying. These kind of attacks are as acts of cyberterrorism. It doesn’t matter whether or not this campaign was well intentioned, it crossed legal lines and Anonymous will most likely be facing additional federal charges for these attacks.
In conclusion, what Operation: Payback does is exposes Anonymous as an immature and misguided group of hackers, but that isn’t the extent of their faults. They’re hypocritical, arrogant and downright dangerous, having moved from cyber-bullying to outright cyberterrorism. Anonymity will not protect these self-righteous self-appointed protectors of the internet freedom and now they will pay the price for their crimes. If the FBI can track homegrown Islamic terrorists, as they recently demonstrated with the arrest of Muhammed Hussain, an Islamic convert who was planning on blowing up a military recruitment center, they most certainly can infiltrate an internet-based group of anarchists.
No matter how noble Anonymous wants to portray itself as, they’ve always been more like children than champions… Pathetic…
UPDATE: A Fox News report from Shepard Smith reveals that a 16-year-old boy was arrested in the Netherlands for his part in Operation: Payback. I figured the FBI wouldn’t be the only law enforcement agency involved, but I did think that the first arrests would be in the United States considering that they already have an ongoing investigation into Anonymous following the group’s attack on the U.S. Copyright Office.