Anonymous Operation Payback Targets Opponents Of Wikileaks
Okay, so due to really badly timed server issues, I have not been able to blog during the latest developments of what is now being called the first global cyber-revolution (thanks to Roger Davies for helping me out!). As my last blog entry: Twittocracy, Interactivism, Hacktivism & Cyber Anarchy: Cause covered Operation Payback, it was a vendetta campaign against those attempting to censor online content based on copyright infringement. Those perpetrating the attacks were Anonymous, the mysterious hacktivist group behind the latest cyber protests against opponents of Wikileaks.
At the end of last year, Wikileaks released the torrent of leaked American diplomatic cables they called Cablegate. To say that this prompted a lot of international reaction would be the understatement of this century. Most world leaders had something to say on the matter and the majority of it was not sounding too good for Wikileaks or its founder Julian Assange. The web server that Wikileaks was hosted on came under DDoS attacks, similar in style to those carried out by Anonymous during Operation Payback Is a Bitch: Save The Pirate Bay. Wikileaks then had its money supply cut off by Paypal, Visa, Mastercard and Amazon dropped hosting. Anonymous; as a hive collective, decided to leap into action. The public home pages of Visa, Paypal and Mastercard were targetted for DDoS by Operation Payback: Save Wikileaks, and hundreds of alternate mirrors of the site's Cablegate Datatbase were spawned.
Anonymous Changes Tactics: Operation Leakspin
The cyber protests in the form of DDoS caught the ever gazing eye of the worlds media and Anonymous got a lot of press attention, using this attention Anonymous launched into a new direction with a new campaign; Operation Leakspin. Operation Payback had successfully brought attention to the shameful acts of private corporations under the intimidation of the United Sates of America. More importantly it had won the support of the people of the internet for Wikileaks, and freedom of the press. With this heightened level of awareness, Operation Leakspin was to spread the contents of the leaked diplomatic cables virally; via social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Other spin off Anonymous Operations were Operation Blackout/Face-Off which encouraged people to replace their internet avatars with a plain black square, and Operation Paperstorm which encouraged people to print out and distribute paper flyers about Wikileaks and Operation Leakspin. A new hub site emerged as a centralised meeting -place for organisation of such Anonymous Operations with resources such as web chat, IRC and forums.
Wikileaks, Anonymous & The Coming Arabic Cyber Revolution
In the last two weeks, the internet; in particular, Twitter, Wikileaks and Anonymous , have played a vital role in the on-going cyber revolution across the Arab world. Firstly in Tunisia, where internet censorship has been used to silence dissenting voices for a while, one incident sparked a wave of protests across the country. A single individual immolated himself publicly leading to days of protests, until the leader of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia. More recently since January 25th, Egypt has been awash with protests against their tyrannical dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak. Over the last few days these protests have descended into violent chaos, as Mubarak attempts to cling onto power by inciting violence among his minority of supporters. At one point Mubarak was desperate enough to shut down the entire country's internet access, to try and end this burgeoning revolution. According to the latest news sources, Mubarak was no longer intending to run for re-election in September yet refused to step down as President. [UPDATE] Mubarak has now handed over power to his senior military leadership; who were instrumental in advising him to step aside at the behest of his people. The people of Egypt seem to have accepting this situation as an interim to a new democratic government, but have planned to hold a public demonstration for this Friday (18/02/2011), to garner public opinion on the progression of this process . [/UPDATE]
As if inspired by the courage displayed by the brave Tunisian and Egyptian people; similar protests have taken place across the Arab world. Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania and even Saudi Arabia have all had incidents ranging from small protests to all out revolution. This democratic movement is largely driven through social media and the internet, which is why net neutrality is so important globally. The open internet model is necessary to maintain the freedoms of expression of those who are oppressed. In those countries where oppression is most rampant, the internet is used as a means to silence dissent. The voices of freedom cry out to the internet and are silenced, but Anonymous, and other internet freedom groups have taken up the mantle of freedom of speech. These internet vigilantes or hacktivists, have provided services to such affected regions such as Google's Speak to Tweet or information on proxies like Tor.
[UPDATE] (17/02/2011) Anonymous & Wikileaks Versus The FBI & HBGary [/UPDATE]
In the recent weeks the FBI in the USA and British Police have arrested several "Members of Anonymous". The FBI hired a company called HBGary to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the group Anonymous. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the more skilled hacktivists of the group, who proceeded to hack into HBGary's server. They replaced the home page with the above image, and leaked thousands of emails to and from the company.
It seems like the message from Anonymous is pretty clear; the world governments and organisations who seek to control the internet have three options now:
A) Release all of your secret information in an organised fashion
B) People inside your organisation feel compelled to leak the information and do so
C) The extremist arm of the internet comes and takes all your secrets and leaks them into the public domain
Whatever the future holds, the internet is key not only to observing and predicting social change, but generating it.
What Is Going On With All Of This Internet Dramatica?
The internet is revolting. It is full of people, with radical ideas and it's hard to navigate the web without being directly exposed to other people's creative juices. Right now you are reading the thoughts and opinions of an individual adult European male called Michael Wharton, who has strong "opinions" and "theories" about the world around him. The internet is the only real forum for every literate, intelligent individual or organisations of like minded individuals to openly voice their views to the entire world (except China obviously).
The internet has been successfully, and unsuccessfully, used as tool for political campaigning. A great example of this was the recent British election in which several successful Twitter "#hashtag" campaigns went viral and may have contributed to the resultant hung parliament (well there is always a theory!). This shift towards a Twittocracy will have to retain its neutrality, especially with the huge budgets some parties have for online campaigns. Luckily, the people at Twitter have declared that, at least for now, they aren't promoting paid political trends and tweets
Cool Story Bro! What Happen? Whose Responsible This?
Well, yeah, the internet used to be fun and frolics. It used to be Lolcats, Rick Astley, Badgers, Porn and Pies, but now the internet is serious business. Internet activism (or as I like to call it interactivism!) has been observable for a while now, but in the recent months it has been going through a renaissance and surge in popularity. Sites dedicated to particular humanitarian causes have attracted support through their own means for years. Now with the advent of social media and social networking sites, these causes can be spread much faster and wider by their own supporters, eliminating a lot of expense.
With this torrent of the masses flowing to these social networking services, like Twitter and Facebook, the spread of ideology and philosophy is incredibly easy. The ability for people to instantly share opinions and feelings with friends and strangers is a boon to most, but there are those who fear information overload. It's all down to personal choice, free will is essential on the internet.
Interactivism, Twittocracy Fine; But WTF Is Hacktivism?
Hacktivism is the last measure of interactivism; when petitions and protests and hashtags don't work. There are many forms of hacktivism being carried out all the time; whether it's journalists using illegal techniques to garner information then posting to Wikileaks, or members of elite hacker groups organising online raids or exploits (sploits) of particular targets. Although the former is the most publicised recently due to Wikileaks getting better at what they do, and various personal attacks upon its founder, the latter is the fastest growing.
Anonymous Hacktivism: Operation Payback Is A Bitch!
Anonymous (so named due to their frequent use of message/image boards such as 4chan where most users post using the default username "Anonymous") are now the self proclaimed last line of defence of the internet and self appointed guardians of net neutrality. They hide their personal identities to strengthen their group integrity, as an idea is impossible to destroy. Anonymous have also been successful in many past instances of hacktivism aimed at various nefarious parties; from Operation Chanology against the church of Scientology, to Operation Titstorm/Freeweb against the DMCA and ACTA laws in Australia and USA. Their most recent campaign; Operation Payback Is A Bitch! the main targets have been law firms (such as ACS:Law) based in Europe and the UK, law firms who have been encroaching on the personal freedoms of many innocent citizens. The legitimacy of these targets is debatable, but it is undeniable that in order to catch a copyright infringer, they have and will infringe all of our human rights. Anonymous have also aimed the Low Orbit Ion Canon at the Ministry of Sound website along with the RIAA, the MPAA and Gene Simmons as part of Operation Payback. Future plans for DDoS targets are discussed in a fluid manner on IRC channels and voted on democratically on affiliated Operation Payback sites. There is actually a precedent for this type of cyber-protest, back in 2004 the internet group Lycos launched; Make Love Not Spam a campaign against internet spammers using a similar DDoS method. News of these Operation Payback attacks does keep coming from certain affiliated sources such as Torrent Freak, but mainstream TV news sources (especially in the UK) have, at best been practically ignoring it, at worst misreporting it completely. There is always a theory that this is intentional, to prevent more people joining the cause and quell the fire storm coming from the internet. This will not work. When dealing with an internet phenomenon, there is no real way to keep it quiet if it is a popular enough idea. The latest news from the front is promising, as a result of ACS-Law's inability to keep data private, BT have recently deleted user data, much to the annoyance of the Ministry Of Sound.
Anonymous ACTA Video From The Operation Payback Site
How Does Interactivism Lead To Twittocracy / Cyber Anarchy?
Quite simply put, we are coming to a very crucial point in the development of humanity. We have several paths ahead of us, and we must exercise our free will and choose the right one (in my opinion Anarchy is hard to avoid). Down one could lead to a dystopian future with information being tightly controlled like George Orwell's 1984. Down another path we might find peace and unity through the free sharing of ideas and free expression of creativity. Maybe I'm being idealistic, but I'd rather live in a world where all my information is in the public domain than one where we are being lied to constantly and refused information.
The choices are being made now, by our politicians, but there are other forces at work other than plain old politics. Money is a major factor in the information war, the others are power and control. Artists and those who create digital media are not the primary benefactors of their work. The big production companies and corporate bosses make so much more than the actual creators that it sickens most people. We find it harder and harder to justify why these people deserve to live in luxury while we live in fear of repossession. This hacktivism will not be the last shot fired as long as the freedom and neutrality of the internet is threatened still. The anonymous legion will keep firing their lasers until they achieve great justice, maybe we will praise them as honoured brethren.
Anarchy - A Chaotic Mayhem Surely?
Anarchy is inevitable, that much is known for certain, or at least a wide held belief. Where can one draw order from Chaos? Well according to Chaos Theory, patterns emerge organically in nature and are much more stable than those that we have artificially created. Take this principal from physics to biological evolution and you have the origin of Species Theory being proven. Take it further to sociology and politics and you have Anarchy emerging as the only sensible logical, rational state of Utopia in which we can have world peace. Okay, it's a bit of a leap of faith, although faith is belief in the absence of evidence, this would require belief in the overwhelming presence of irrefutable and undeniable evidence. Money is the deciding point; throughout history, goods have been traded according to both the effort of acquisition and scarcity. When money began to flourish as a means of fair exchange, the problems really started. It stopped being fair for a start, where there is somebody making money, in every case, there is somebody off of whose back that money was made. Financial and managerial hierarchies formed, allegiances were made according to financial benefits to the parties involved. In my opinion, Religion must have facilitated money's rise to power due to self interest (that's if money wasn't the idea of some form of Religion...). There are many interactivist organisations dedicated to Freeing us from the tyranny of money, such as The Really Really Free Market, Buy Nothing Day, the Freeconomy Community or even Craigslist and all of the Freecycle community. These are only examples of the myriad of NPOs (None Profit Organisations) trying to make the world a fairer nicer place without financial divisions through interactisism.
What does this brief history of Politics mean?
Well in short, it means that until Religion and money are ultimately removed from society, Anarchy will always have strong opposition from those who currently have power. Those with political power who may somehow agree with the ideals of Anarchy, have no real power to promote it as a means to a utopian end. There is no way to democratically vote for a state of Anarchy, I see this as wrong and almost dictatorial. In states where there is an entry for none of the above candidates in the ballot, this is simply taken as a protest vote and not a meaningful dissolution of parliament option.
Technology Is Evolving Towards Anarchy
Obsolete is the technology of mining and burning fossil fuels that do not replenish. We now know that the Carbon Dioxide released is warming the planet to the point where methane deposits in the world oceans could melt ending much of the life on this planet incredibly quickly. This is alarming as the last time this happened it wiped out 95% of all life on earth. Science and technology are key to preventing this potential apocalypse, not one particular technology or science, but an advanced amalgamation of all of the latest developments in green energy and manufacture. The hydrogen fuel cell is set to replace the internal combustion engine as a means of effectively powering our road and aerial vehicles. Soon enough the means of producing the Hydrogen will be available cheaply from wind and solar energy in and around the homestead. At this stage an individual dwelling will have no need for energy from the national grid and will become self sufficient and green. Other technologies set to influence the political arena are geothermal energy, high rise farms, nano-scale replication and manufacturing (essentially the ultimate form of recycling, put in your old phone, it gets taken apart to its molecules and reassembled get the latest model printed out), and of course stem cell research and gene therapy (potentially curing deadly diseases like cancer and HIV). My interpretation of the effect these technologies will have on humanity is not unique to me. Many libertarian Freedomists or advocates of political and economic Anarchy believe that these technologies will bring about an end to money's totalitarian reign over us. These technologies are a decade, or less, away but in my opinion they could be here sooner if we change our combined political and financial attitude. There are lots of examples of projects like The Venus Project and even mainstream efforts like the Greensburg GreenTown Project , these projects could be done faster and better if money were not a factor in the decision making process.
How Can I Get Involved In Advocating Anarcho-Capitalist-Libertarianism?
My Utopian vision of the future, is somewhat identical to the world John Lennon described so vividly in his most famous song; Imagine. The journey from here to there is fraught with perilous downfalls, with temptations for greed and self service. To ensure we make it safely we need to ensure we do not lose our footing and slip back into a possessive consumerist culture. Short of what Anarchists all over the world are already doing (which in my opinion only gives credence to the consensus of the masses that we are all a bunch of violent destructive simpletons who hate the police), you can stop consuming as much and try to become greener with regards to technology. Become part of a movement, whatever one you like, that is doing something that you can see is shifting paradigms towards a utopian vision. Or something like that.