Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!

6Feb/111

Anonymous, Wikileaks & Arabic Cyber Revolution: Cause

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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]

Open Letter from Anonymous to HBGary

Open Letter from Anonymous to HBGary

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.

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2Jul/100

Your Freedom: A Forum For Internet Activism In The UK

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Your Freedom

Yesterday on the first of July Your Freedom was launched by the coalition Liberal Democrat/Conservative government. It seems that Nick Clegg is at the lead of the project, spearheading a new avenue of internet political interactivity. Over the last couple of years, there have been more and more politically charged social networking sites springing up on all bands of the political spectrum. Several of these were single policy sites, pushing a particular agenda, some were more broadly focused with a particular political slant. In the UK, the government is attempting to give all of these disparate viewpoints a forum for debate and discussion of ideas.

Although it's still a little shaky due to the fact that demand for the service is so much higher than anticipated, the functionality of the front end more than makes up for it. There's an intuitive tagging system, which allows all users to add tags to all campaigns, and all users can leave comments too. It's like we are truly entering a state of Twittocracy (well there is always a theory...), a society shaped by the majority, with their collective opinions being aggregated automatically through what I like to call Interactivism (maybe Hacktivism?) which is basically a marriage of internet and activism.

A number of campaigns are theoretically sound, but the methodology is lacking (poor spelling and grammar...). A great many campaigns are identical to others and sevceral recurring themes have sprung up; such as repealing the Digital Economy Act and the Legalization of Cannabis.

I believe that this proactive platform for public political promotion is pretty provocative. It is probably paramount to protect personal privacy and post (okay, enough alliteration...) anonymously to begin with. Compared with Petition The PM at Number 10 it is definitely an improvement in that it is much less patronising.

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13May/100

Internet Censorship: Cause

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Internet Censorship: The Internet Is Under Attack?

According to many key sources of internet trends, the recent governmental seizure of control over the internet has been perceived as a threat to global freedom. The internet culture has flourished from what once was the domain of the knowledgeable few, to what is often called "Web 2.0"; user generated and driven content, shared and open to all interactively and easily. Nowadays, most people between their childhood and retirement age will spend time online regularly. They do so to catch up on the latest news, kill time watching funny videos of cats, keep in touch with long lost friends and relatives, etc... The list of activities people perform regularly online is pretty endless, as new applications of the internet are coming along every day. Some of the things people do online are currently illegal, in quite a few countries, and for years now the governments of those (often developed) countries have been trying to figure out how to enforce laws on the internet. From copyright infringement to "Indecent Pornography", it has been a game of cat and mouse, as technology on both sides is developed to outsmart the other.

We were all made aware of this arms race when sites like Napster and The Pirate Bay were legally challenged, when news of sting operations on paedophile and terrorist networks hit the papers. We were glad of our Government's action against those who would harm or way of life. Now however, it is our governments themselves who are threatening our way of life; in a new development in this arms race, we the people are being targeted with internet censorship.

The ACTA has been implemented in several "Freedom Loving" countries such as Australia, America, and now the United Kingdom has followed suit with the Digital Economy Bill (The DEBill is now The Digital Economy Act since it was pushed through parliament... shouldn't have dragged my feet writing this blog...). Now we have internet censorship, blacklisted websites and filtered content.

Internet Censorship: Spreading The Word!

Internet Censorship Youtube Video Playlist:

So as far as I can tell, the internet is going to become more strictly controlled, surveilled, filtered and censored worldwide. Copyright piracy, inappropriate porn and terrorist communication are simply convenient distractions, so that dissent can be monitored and controlled. If any of the videos in the internet censorship playlist are removed, or if you can no longer gain access to this page then you will know that I was right.

Since the development of the internet, it has been used to express opinions and information freely with the rest of the world. Don't allow this tool to be used to gag and control you, speak out against this right infringement. Several organisations have interactivist campaigns you can join to let your voice be heard; The EFF, The ORG, 38 Degrees and of course Project Freeweb.

If we do nothing, we are in very real danger of losing access to the "real" internet like other less than free countries with more extreme levels of internet censorship ( an obvious example is the People's Republic of China (oh no, I guess that my site's blocked there now...)). Internet superstars such as Tim Berners Lee and John Perry Barlow have declared their opposition to internet censorship. Internet deity Google have spoken out against the global trend towards internet censorship measures and the state controlling the web. Google even released this handy tool to see how much your internet content is being filtered. We have to all stand together and say "No, we DO NOT WANT internet censorship, filtered content or our internet to be arbitrarily cut off!". Of course as with anything online, you have an overwhelming choice of mediums for interactivism to convey such a message!

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