Anonymous: The Modern Day Acid Phreak

// Posted by on 05/21/2015 (2:27 PM)

If you search the term “Anonymous” in a Google browser, the second link will take you to a Wikipedia page which describes the topic as “Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities. A website nominally associated with the group describes it as “an internet gathering” with “a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives”.[2] The group became known for a series of well-publicized publicity stunts and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites.”

The group reminds me of our beloved Acid Phreak from Chapter 5. He bluntly and boldly suggested that hacking is really meant to be “infectious” to institutions. Anonymous takes this digital adage to heart as they hack government and corporate sites at home and abroad. This group claims to fight for free speech and the “lowly middle man” by exposing the hypocrisy and wrong-doing of certain institutions.

Everywhere I turn, Anonymous is there telling me that they are fighting for me and my rights… by doing what is “right”, “ethical”, and “moral”. But if you examine what Acid Phreak said in the Hacking Forum where he debates Barlow and others, he claims that there “is no one hacker ethic.” So, like many before me, I ask: How does Anonymous decide what is ethical/right and wrong? Who makes that call in their own, hierarchical and structured organization? Do they have their own agenda?

Personally, I think they do. Even if their ideas are rooted in good intentions, have they fallen into the same patterns as the institutions they work so hard to bring down and expose? Just think about how easy it was for them to hack into the St. Louis law enforcement system and leak details of the racially charged murder of Eric Holder in Ferguson. They released the home address of the officer (Darren Wilson) in question during a time of dangerous unrest. Anonymous has the ability to hack into various systems and release this damaging information, daily. And yet, they only choose to act when an incident occurs that will place them at center stage as our “protectors”.

I find the group so interesting, and I admire their gumption. I just wonder what their true agenda is. Who pushes their buttons and pulls their strings? Is anyone really a “digital Robin Hood” for us common folk?

Brief CNN Video Coverage of Anonymous


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Shirley said...

This is very interesting and I can tell you put a lot of thought and research into it. Until now I didn’t know this group of activist existed. I think the steps of a few can have a lot of power and they recognize this. All for freedom of speech… I tend to agree that they have their own agenda. The one mask is going to give me nightmares….

Thank you for enlightenting

// 05/21/2015 at 7:38 pm

Rosatelli said...

Hi Kindall,

We will talk a lot about Anonymous later in the semester, and you bring up some really profound points. What IS the moral compass of Anonymous? On the one hand, they do seemingly vigilante things, like out the rapist in Steubenville, on the other hand, they’ve hack children’s games to create swastikas. There is a lot of research on Anonymous, and I encourage you to watch a wonderful documentary called We are Legion: (you can watch it on YouTube!). It breaks down the different sects of Anonymous and brings you into their moral world a bit more.

// 05/21/2015 at 8:23 pm