Editors note: Recently, I was fortunate to speak with Anonymous, via Skype, about their recent DDoS attacks and the evolution from Operation:Payback to Operation:Leakspin. Neither Anonymous, Wikileaks, Cryptome or the press providing access to proof and prosecutable information can execute ‘subpoena power’, only the people can bring justice to bear on the crimes revealed.
An impassioned plea to powerful left wing voices, from Michael Moore to Katrina Vanden Heuvel, to influence protests of President Obama, including one this Thursday, December 16, in DC.
The election of Obama has not galvanized protest movements. To the contrary, it has depressed and undermined them, with the White House playing an active role in the discouragement and suppression of dissent – with disastrous consequences. The almost complete absence of protest from the left has emboldened the most right-wing elements inside and outside of the Obama administration to pursue and act on an ever more extreme agenda.
We are writing to you because you are well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, and you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.
The open letter is signed by such left wing dignitaries and main stream media critics as Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and Rocky Anderson and details multiple failures of the Obama administration, many of which mirror those of George W Bush. The very need to write it is illustrative of how even left wing journalists, many of whom supported and promoted earlier protests against Bush, are taking the role of servile flatterers rather than clarions of truth. Why isn’t the ‘left establishment’ informing its readers of the upcoming protest?
Millions took to the streets of DC in 2003 and 2005 and were essentially ignored by the media. The significance of this action and why it may be harder for the media to ignore is that for the first time, in a long time, this protest is on a weekday. If enough people take to the streets, clog the metro, block traffic, interfere with pizza delivery to starving Congressional staffers and otherwise interrupt the flow of ‘business as usual’ on Capitol Hill, then surely the world and more importantly, our own nation, may see it in the news. Where are the left wing voices now?
Operation:Payback, launched by ‘Anonymous’ sought to disrupt the flow of business as usual with a torrent of DDoS attacks aimed at entities interfering with the free flow of information on the internet. Anonymous arose out of Pirate Bay, a Swedish based site delivering music on bit torrent files, as an international anti-copyright or pro-piracy movement.
The persecution of Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, collided with Anonymous’ freedom of information and net neutrality ideology. Anonymous has no membership list, they are anonymous even to each other, it has no organization rules, or code of conduct or leadership infrastructure but somehow it mobilizes and grows, within minutes or seconds, and takes action.
“When we see attempts to censor the internet, we censor back,” it was explained to me.
Anonymous flexed its collective muscle enabling almost “800 Wikileaks mirror sites in one day”, not only to protect and avenge the whistle blower but to prove the internet, free speech, is ungovernable.
Anonymous censored the companies and entities it viewed as responsible for interfering with net neutrality and launched an all out ‘cyber war’ that was breathtaking to watch. The commands were issued via IRC chatter and Twitter
During one attack notice was posted an hour in advance followed by periodic reminders and instructions…
and finally the order to “FIRE!, FIRE!, FIRE!”. Within two minutes of the attack on VISA, one member tweeted “And… visa.com is DOWN”. You could almost hear the roars and cheers, (maybe that was me cheering), but the collective power of individuals, (almost 10,000 were in the hive at one point), working in concert, if only for moments, was exhilarating. For Anonymous, it was just another way to demonstrate the internet will not be tamed or contained.
Nevertheless, in this particular battle for cyber freedom, Anonymous admitted it was only delivering a ‘blackeye’ and a new strategy was need. Enter, Operation:Leakspin.
Begin searching through Wikileaks. Find only the best, least exposed leaks you can get your hands on. Post summaries of them, along with the complete source. Encourage the reader to read more. Make one-to-two-minute YouTube videos reading the leaks. Use misleading tags, everything from “Tea Party” to “Bieber”. Post snippets of the leaks EVERYWHERE. News comments, fan forums, etc…
Anonymous was quick to advise me they are neither ‘hackers’ in the true sense of the word, nor activists out to change or save the world from evil. Nevertheless, Operation:Leakspin, an effort towards ‘cloud journalism’ or ‘crowd journalism’ if successful, will play a significant role in changing the world. At least changing media, re-imagining media/news and relying less and less on high profile writers and pundits and listening more and more to the ‘crowd’.
Anonymous’ marketing strategy is revealed in the notice above. In addition to twitter and social media, they suggest using ‘trending topics’ and popular news tags to bring readers to the leaked data. Hopefully, the approach will work and Leakspin will continue to gather support off the internet, although it may not have the same explosive cache as Payback. Payback is not dead, I am assured, DDoS is always a part of the arsenal but Leakspin has the potential to deliver more than a bloody nose but a full knockout punch.
Recently, “feral crowds” in England reclaimed the right to protest in Parliament Square amidst tuition hikes that may be forced by repressive practices of the IMF.
As a student of social engineering, the organic, anarchist nature of Anonymous and its ability to arrive at a decision and perform a task at a moments notice is a fascinating study. Whether the lack of organizational structure will ultimately impair its ability to sustain a purposed operation like Leakspin remains to be seen but The Pirate Bay is proof Anonymous has prevailed before.
Anonymous may shirk the ‘activist’ moniker but there is no question it is part of a rising tide of dissent and a transformational change in media that will make the open letter above unnecessary.