2600 Magazine condemns DDoS attacks against Wikileaks censors

2600: The Hacker Quarterly, has published a public statement opposing the Anonymous denial-of-service attacks on the services that abetted the censorship of Wikileaks. 2600's position is that the inexcusable moral cowardice of Visa and Mastercard and PayPal, etc, do not justify the use of brute force. Additionally, 2600 says that DDoS attacks are tactically unsound, as they create sympathy for these companies, and are used as a pretense for more attacks on Internet freedom. Finally, 2600 wants to strong disassociate "hackers" from people who merely run a piece of push-button DoS software, and to ensure that the security specialists, experimenters, hobbyists and others who make up its community are not unfairly associated with the DDoS attacks.
The assault on Wikileaks must not be overshadowed by the recent denial of service attacks and these certainly must not be allowed to be associated with the hacker community. This will play right into the hands of those who wish to paint us all as threats and clamp down on freedom of speech and impose all kinds of new restrictions on the Internet, not to mention the fact that the exact same types of attacks can be used on "us" as well as "them." (Interestingly, it was only a week ago that "hackers" were blamed for denial of service attacks on Wikileaks itself. That tactic was ineffectual then as well.) Most importantly, these attacks are turning attention away from what is going on with Wikileaks. This fight is not about a bunch of people attacking websites, yet that is what is in the headlines now. It certainly does not help Wikileaks to be associated with such immature and boorish activities any more than it helps the hacker community. From what we have been hearing over the past 24 hours, this is a viewpoint shared by a great many of us. By uniting our voices, speaking out against this sort of action, and correcting every media account we see and hear that associates hackers with these attacks, we stand a good chance of educating the public, rather than enflaming their fears and assumptions.

There are a number of positive steps people - both inside and outside of the hacker community - can take to support Wikileaks and help spread information. Boycotts of companies that are trying to shut Wikileaks down can be very effective and will not win them any sympathy, as the current attacks on their websites are unfortunately doing. Mirroring Wikileaks is another excellent method of keeping the flow of information free. Communicating with friends, family, classes, workplaces, etc. is not only a way of getting the word out, but will also help to sharpen your skills in standing up for what you believe in. This is never accomplished when all one tries to do is silence one's opponent. That has not been, and never should be, the hacker way of dealing with a problem.

2600 Magazine has been publishing news, tutorials, and commentary by, about, and for the hacker community since 1984. We were sued in 2000 by the Motion Picture Association of America for linking to a website containing source code enabling Linux machines to play DVDs and thus became the first test case of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a similar vein, we are supporting Wikileaks by linking to their existing website through wikileaks.2600.com. We've already changed where this address points to twice as Wikileaks sites have been taken down, and will continue to ensure that this link always manages to get to wherever Wikileaks happens to be. We hope people follow that link and support the existence of Wikileaks through whatever method is being publicized on their site.

I recognize that "Anonymous" isn't an organization or even a group -- it's a "meme," which is to say, some people put out a call to action, and others take them up on it (or don't), and that is how "Anonymous" makes its decision. But many of us understand "Anonymous" to mean "that subset of /b/ readers and others who are, at this moment, participating in one action or another." It's tedious to have to write out this full epithet, and what's more, it's not as if Anonymous is the first phenomenon to be loosely structured -- after all, the "peace movement" or "environmental movement" had lots of different members who dissented on strategy, tactics, goals and commitments, and undertook many actions with support of different levels and intensity (including provocateurs, fellow travellers, and bystanders who got swept up along the way). But there was and is a "peace movement" and an "environmental movement" and it's not inaccurate to say, "Environmentalists oppose such-and-such," because anyone who has paid any attention knows that this means, "some environmentalists oppose such-and-such, others don't, some have no opinion, and there are no formal membership requirements for the 'environmental movement'."

I can't see any point in the pedantic nitpicking about whether anyone can meaningfully discuss "Anonymous." There are people who sometimes call themselves Anonymous. They come together to do stuff, sometimes. Insisting on this formulation "Some anonymous people who have answered an anonymous call to action and are presently operating under the Anonymous banner," every time someone mentions Anonymous is just dumb.



  1. There’s a poet named Derrik Jenson who has some great words for what this situation calls for. It’s not about, your DDOS is bad, and my not using VISA is good, the real underlining question is “what do we want, and how are we going to get there?”. Arguing over tactics is completely irrelevant if there’s a goal in mind. While I respect 2600’s message, and agree on many points, I think the sudden disruption of service, even if just for a few hours, sparked more news of this story than any information wikileaks has leaked, in our 24 hour news cycle you need to grab the attention of people who don’t get it. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but what I do know is that these leaks are more important that VISA and MC’s servers, and companies acting like they get to decide what we can and cannot do with our time and money on this earth is the only fight I’m willing to throw all the gloves off for. These companies, acting based on government (or in the bank’s case, Bank of America’s) fear is the worst kind of business decision they can make. I think it’s interesting that the only people associated with this movement are younger, like 16 and younger kind of young. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, “what do these kids know that I don’t?”. As far as non-violent actions go these kids have it right (imagine real riots that kill people over this), and many of them probably haven’t even been alive for as long as 2600’s been around. I get that, in practical terms, it’s way easier to demand internet controls if disrupting VISA and MC can be easily done by any 16 year old with an ax to grind, but I’d sooner take VISA and MC to task for their crimes, for their use of the United States government to help propose law in their own favor, don’t go crying to mommy when you get your hand stuck in the cookie jar. If VISA and MC would have kept their nose out of our government, maybe no one would have cared, but thanks to VISA and MC being total dickwads, we’ll never know if their punishment could have been avoided had they kept to building a better service, rather than trying to rig the game in their favor. They want power trip? Lol @ your servers pal.

    What I have a big problem with is that this paints VISA and MC as victims, and while technically true, they’ve done far more harm to humanity by rigging the game than any overworked server. Wrong to try to harm their property? Sure. Am I ever going to lose sleep over it? I’m still waiting for the day when the end scene of fight club comes true. The credit card buildings, along with every one of their servers, destroyed, and not a single person injured. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m anonymous (though not on this screen name ha!).

  2. “I recognize that “Anonymous” isn’t an organization or even a group — it’s a “meme…”

    Agreed, and all very well said…but…what do these paragraphs at the end have to do with the (excellent, BTW) 2600 post which doesn’t mention Anonymous at all?

  3. watchout5: very well put. Now I’d love to know what 2600 is doing in regards to fighting for freedom of information. After all, isn’t that the point to the whole hacking hobby? Getting your fingers on information? Why are all you old lazy dicks just talking about what not to do, and do something. You’re just as much of a hacker as these “push button kids” because all you’re doing is sitting on your ass eating chips and bending over. You’re no hacker. You’re a has been and a never will. You only give yourself the title that no one else, ever would.

    1. “Now I’d love to know what 2600 is doing in regards to fighting for freedom of information.”

      I think you’ll find some of the answers to that question in the final paragraph of the press release.

  4. Without absolutely disagreeing with 2600, I do wonder if their stance re:Anonymous would be different 20 years ago. Many a loyal phreaker is now working for the Man in some security or programming-related vein. More than a few have families.

    For those people, the threat of an Internet ‘war’ is unconscionable.

    Anonymous probably deserve their own chance to prove/disprove the merits of their actions — for example, moving on to ‘Leakspin’ seems like a good idea.

  5. Anonymous is the mob and Julian Assange is its excuse to smash windows and hang collaborators from lampposts. What more is there to know?

  6. Anonymous is an anarchic group with nothing better to do than waste their own bandwidth for poorly organized ’causes’ based upon their perceived offender of the moment. The same group (or maybe it’s different, but as you point out, who knows or cares?) that is so ardent about free speech currently is the same one, by name at least, that tried to knock the Church of Scientology offline, and threatened to DDoS the EFF. Freedom of speech/information, or desire to censor those you don’t like? Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    What’s silly about the whole thing is 1) DDoSing these sites doesn’t do anything to their daily operations, and 2) all this will likely result in a chilling effect through additional laws and regulation.

    So good job, /b/! Put on that Guy Fawkes mask, nobody can stop you! At least, until they trace your IPs or decide to crack down on this immature behavior.

    1. I think it’s an insult to the complex and nuanced history of anarchism to call Anonymous ‘anarchic’. They are merely chaotic. They do, however, represent a new(ish) phenomenon: a self-organizing and self-directing voluntary non-hierarchical movement capable of (in some situations) overwhelming state and state-scale actors. That an unorganized voluntary group can compete with corporations and governments on an even keel is promising, even if the choice of targets and tactics used by Anonymous is not.

    2. What’s silly about the whole thing is 1) DDoSing these sites doesn’t do anything to their daily operations, and 2) all this will likely result in a chilling effect through additional laws and regulation.

      And “trying to predict the future” sets off my BS alarm. You know jack about what the likely results are going to be and I’d even venture you have no basis on which to even begin a risk analysis of the subject.

  7. Shouldn’t that headline read something like “Big Hackerdom Joins with Big Business and Big Government in Opposing Political Action from Little People Who Mean Nothing”?

  8. One thing that I think this article just touches on is the whole “anonymous is not a group” thing, of which the opposite is true in the media. However relegating it to a meme I consider write dismissive.

    Anonymous is you, me or your technically savvy gran, and it’s the face of social activism on the internet. By it’s nature, it’s inherently democratic as anons come together to fight a cause they believe to be mostly just. It gives the average person the chance to affect organizations, large ones in a direct manner, apart from the political process and it’s inherent corruptions and moral pitfalls.

    Visa, amazon, pay pal et al, you have been judged by the internet going people of the world and have been found wanting!

  9. I’m beginning to suspect that these frequent “commercial” spam attacks are actually political in origin.

    Noising up the circuit.
    For the sake of “security”…

  10. So, I disagree with the DDoS attacks – as the referenced article points out, they’ll be used against Wikileaks, and as a justification for locking down the Internet. (Mainstream media is already spinning it as “hackers supporting Wikileaks,” and even making them sound like they represent Wikileaks.)

    Also, the DDoS attacks are being perpetuated against those that folded against the US government, not the US government itself.

    So, what tactics will work? As is pointed out in another comment, the DDoS attacks ARE bringing attention to the cause, even if it’s negative attention.

    Boycotting won’t work, at least not on its own, because it’s a tiny segment of the customers.

    Picketing the businesses may work, and Anons have successfully carried out picketing campaigns, but given that the businesses in question aren’t brick and mortar, picketing their B&M locations is ineffective. Picketing a storefront works, picketing an office building doesn’t. (Arguably, a DDoS is the online equivalent of blocking people from breaking through the picket line to shop.)

    However, I wonder what picketing the GOVERNMENT would do. Boycotting the government would also be hilariously ineffective, but if you’re in the government’s face… That’s actually had some effect in the past.

    “There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order.”

    So, right now, the DDoS attack is intended to be a destructive attack against the companies that folded against the US Government. Arguably, ammo was used there.

    Soap is effective if you can get people to listen (the problem is, the media is stolen.)

    Ballot is effective if you can get good candidates on the ballot and actually get them through a campaign successfully. Problem is, the kind of people who can get themselves on a ballot are not the kind of people who should be running this country.

    Jury is one that has a high risk of being ineffective, especially given that the SCOTUS has decided that banning jury nullification is legal.

    Ammo, it’s not even funny how far outclassed you’d be – if you used a virtual ammo box, it’s going to be spun as you AND THE CAUSE YOU SUPPORT being terrorists. If you use the real ammo box, you’ll be ventilated very, very quickly.

    1. Vote with your $$$

      Boycott all corps exposed as unethical by the cables or by their response to their release:


      $$$ is all that THEY care about, so get a clue, eh?

    2. (Mainstream media is already spinning it as “hackers supporting Wikileaks,” and even making them sound like they represent Wikileaks.)

      Also, the DDoS attacks are being perpetuated against those that folded against the US government, not the US government itself.

      So, characterising Anonymous’ Operation Avenge Assange as “hackers supporting Wikileaks” is a ludicrous distortion of the facts, whereas maintaining that the US government is behind everything that doesn’t go WikiLeaks’ way is one of those self-evident truths that needn’t trouble itself with any evidentiary basis at all?

  11. Both visa/mc and paypal are near-monopolists in their field. This can inform our view of the DDoS attacks.

    If there are illegitimate gains accrued by these firms, then there is little reason to demand that ill-gotten booty be protected by law.

    A public protest/DDoS-attack may cost visa/mc 0.01% of their yearly profit. But if 1% of that is a result of their market dominance, some would argue this isn’t legitimate earnings and thus shouldn’t enjoy legal protection.

    You can more clearly see this in the cases where the state grants a monopoly. If the state declares outlaws bakeries and only government bakeries may sell bread, there are no competitors and the unit price is set by political fiat at some level or other. The ‘profit’ in this scenario is really not profit in the economic sense, since there are no legitimate voluntary purchases to indicate the value of the product.

    But are there reasons to consider a market-dominant position de-facto evidence of illegitimate profit? I can fine none. In the case of banking services we clearly find government force applied in the cases of outlawing competing services (and currencies).

    By this measure alone, we could excuse disruption of Visa/MC and PayPal, but there is one thing most commentators overlook: Any disruption of these companies is also a theft (of time and/or economic opportunity) from millions of people who use these services every day.

    Perhaps the real threat of cyber-attacks lies in the leaky systems from Redmond? ;) Take it easy.

  12. I’ll bite. I like the name Anon. It focuses the readers attention on the issue, rather than on an author, and this is a welcome trend in a world where self aggrandizing narcissistic blather is so commonplace that nobody even notices it enough to complain.

  13. I don’t think it’s pedantic to question the use of “anonymous.” /b/ is not political. Or rather, it’s extremely and radically political, but nobody can agree on anything and hardly anyone says what they actually think, because what /b/ is really about is trolling for the lulz. It’s not equivalent to the environmentalist movement where there are basic shared ideals and differing ideas on how to achieve them. Actual ideals are for “moralfags.” (On 4chan, the “fag” suffix basically just means person.)

  14. As tedious as it may be, spelling out what Anonymous is and what it isn’t is beneficial as long as a substantial part of the population continues to completely mischaracterize it in mind and word. Of course, each person is free to weight the public benefit of marginally more informed discourse with their own private cost of having to type out a dozen words.

  15. A boycott is only effective when it’s of a certain size and gets a certain amount of press. It takes a lot more people organizing to get a noticeable boycott than a noticeable DDOS.

    But noticeable isn’t the same thing as effective. If the point is to change someone’s behavior, then I doubt seriously that taking someone’s web server down for a while is going to make them rethink their policies. The folks running the web server certainly don’t have much say in the major corporate decisions of these companies.

    A more direct line of communication to policies, believe it or not, is calling legislators and just telling them your position. Congressional offices respond to this direct action. It may not always result in a public change of face (though sometimes it does), but it certainly can make them change their minds, and let a bad idea die quietly.

  16. Interesting how anonymous has the NIMBY effect. “These guys in the Guy Fawkes masks aren’t with us.” I think their membership is about to drop drastically, as this last unfunny action of DDOSing major players in a super high profile situation and getting worldwide noteriety for it is gonna bring some actual consequences for their actions. It’s not like these script kiddies are hard to catch. No one usually bothers. Till pundits and politicos want the “enemy combatants” rounded up.

    I’d just like to see the circle drawn around what is and what isn’t Anonymous done so as tightly as possible so that people outside of it aren’t mistaken for being a part of it. Its press like the profile piece in the Guardian that worries me the most… Talking about anonymous as a group fighting against copywrong and censorship, which makes those that fight for fair intellectual rights and freedoms look really bad, IMO.

  17. Well, the company I work for uses Paypal for online transaction processing, and at the height of the attack, it caused us some significant grief as service was slowed to a crawl.

    Now, I’ve been fairly agnostic on the whole Wikileaks thing. I don’t know if this is information that should have been published. I don’t know if it will help or hurt the situation in the long run. I’m fairly sure I don’t want someone like Assange deciding that kind of stuff, though. I do agree that there should be more transparency in government, but I also believe that sometimes governments need to keep secrets in order to do their job.

    All this DDOS bullshit has got to stop, though. Now these /b/ morons are disrupting the work and lives of a lot of people who don’t have a single damned thing to do with any of this, and all on behalf of an accused rapist. Well. The. Hell. With. That.

    The world would be a lot better off if 4chan was torched and these morons were tracked down and prosecuted. If their anonymizing skills are equal to their ‘hacking’ skills, it shouldn’t take very long. …And nothing of value would be lost.

    1. in the States, the rights workers “enjoy” to this day…are because of actions not entirely dissimilar to what is now happening online. Let me explain.

      In the early 20th century there were several protests, riots and actions which disrupted the lives of many, many people. They are exceedingly well documented in Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States.” Were it not for these inconvenient actions, workers would probably still have 12 hour days, 7 days a week for pennies…with no health insurance.

      Stretching back further in time, the US became the US due to a series of actions which disrupted the work & lives of a lot of people. I’m certain there are at least some British people today who still view the US as an upstart colony, a bunch of /b/astards for separating from the warmth & love of the mother ship.

      Later, the slave population of the US was freed due to a series of actions etc….

      How do we measure the worth of a political/social protest while the protest is happening? It is only with the passage of time that the meaning of these events will become clear.

      In the short term, I value this form of protest – regardless of who instigates it. There are too many people asleep at the wheel while the world crumbles into various bits & pieces.

      I wonder what you make of the student protests in the UK? There is so much happening on the globe right now. So much. Anonymous is just part of it, but not separate from it. So much shift & change – which always frightens the folks.

      1. I’d like to amend that all of the actions incurred by various freedom fighters of the colonial separatist movement in the US and the labor rights movement & the feminist movement & the anti-segregation movements ALL incurred the wrath of the authorities..threatening crackdown on freedom by Authority. I don’t believe that today’s fight for intellectual/informational freedom can be marginalized or thought of as less important.

      2. Hah, wow. That’s the most wonderfully noble reframing of /b/ I have ever heard in my life. Sorry, a bunch of script kiddies fucking with honest, innocent and hard-working people by DDOSing and making prank calls “for the lulz” is not the new civil rights movement you’re looking for.

        Try again.

        1. I apologize for not making my point more clear.

          my point is:

          there is no protest resulting in societal change I am familiar with which, at the time, was not considered atrocious by some (typically majority) part of the population.

          whether we like it or not, the hive mind of /b/ is a group, is a society, is a culture..and they are working towards change. Who cares how they spend their free time?

          When we marginalize anyone or anything, we become fascist and just as much a tyrant as the corporations & governments & large powers we should all be wary of.

          in short, if the music seems too loud – you are too ossified. read another way, if the social change seems to extreme – yr too old – please, step aside.

          emmanuel goldstein….spoken like a true conservative…which I probably would be too if I spent years in jail.

          Without public awareness, and actions which lead to public awareness…wikileaks could easily become a wikitrickle…and then a dry well.

          1. “..and they are working towards change.’

            Well, I don’t know that I would go that far. I’d say that just like the normal world some of them are motivated to do things when situations arise which appeal to them. Since the board is technological, by nature some of those people are motivated by infringements(? transgressions?) on technology.

            Now if there were photos of anyone doing anything disgusting to a cat and one needed help finding the perp… post it on /b/. Justice will be served.

    2. Assange is accused of having sex without a condom, not rape. There are many fishy circumstances surrounding that charge. Even Glenn Beck find the charges suspicious.

      All of the recent cables released on wikileaks were first released by papers like the New York Times. Names were blacked out. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has said no military contacts or soldiers have been killed due to wikileaks releases. The government has many levels of secrecy. These ‘secret’ cables were available to 3 million people, and were mostly an embarrassment.

      Assuming you live in the U.S., your government has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the middle east based on lies. You have everything to do with it.

      Stereotyping anonymous as 4chan only is inaccurate. There were definitely people from reddit joining in. I’m sure there were plenty of others as well.

      Whoopi Goldberg, on the view called, the TSA-opt-out-day founders terrorists for disrupting holiday travel and security; seriously, look it up on Youtube. What you say is almost as ignorant.

      1. It’s not sex without a condom he’s being accused of, it’s sex after withdrawal of consent. That’s another name for rape. Feel free to educate yourself: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/12/06/some-thoughts-on-sex-by-surprise/

        Pardon me if I don’t give a shit what either Glen Beck or Whoopie Goldberg have to say.

        I’m not claiming that great harm has been done by the wikileaks release. If you had actually bothered to read my post, you would note that I’m agnostic on the subject. I don’t claim knowledge where I have none. What I said is that I don’t trust someone with such an obvious and extreme lack of judgement to make decisions that are in my best interest, the best interests of my country, or the best interests of the world, in that order.

        Reddit participated? Well, at least Reddit as a community has some redeeming characteristics, which you can’t say about 4chan.

        1. ” Well, at least Reddit as a community has some redeeming characteristics, which you can’t say about 4chan.”

          That sounds an awful lot like an non-agnostic stance and one that comes from someone that doesn’t understand a whole lot about the totality of 4chan.

          Just sayin’

          1. I guess I am having trouble understanding your problem with them, or more precisely their action. Was it that you were inconvenienced by it?

  18. In the end these DDOS attacks will accomplish nothing except potentially provoke a crackdown on the internet and freedom of information.

    I mean in the grand scheme of things does taking VISA’s website down for a day amount to much of anything? Have they taken a chunk out of these companies? No.

    1. “In the end these DDOS attacks will accomplish nothing except potentially provoke a crackdown on the internet and freedom of information.”

      I disagree. I think there is no such potential.

      If they/any should try such a “crackdown”, let me be the first to say:

      “Yeah, right. Good luck with that.”

      And how would any people in charge of such a “crackdown” know when their “efforts had succeeded”?

      That is to say: what would such a “crackdown” have as its goal(s)? Specifically?

      I have trouble formulating what that goal or those goals could even be…and in operation…would such a “crackdown” be some kind of modern scaled-up equivalent of “shut up or we’ll cut out your tongue”?

      Anyhow, amongst Wikileaks, the US Gov, and the DDOSers, only the DDOSers have broken any laws here, as far as I can see – of course, I really don’t know what the American Laws may be which control their Diplomatic Service, and so I have no clue as to whether or not the contents of the Cables give proof of any illegal activity, per se, on the part of the servants of the US Gov.
      That’s a debate for Americans.

      So sic ’em – the DDOSers, I mean.
      But not US.

  19. “Insisting on this formulation “Some anonymous people who have answered an anonymous call to action and are presently operating under the Anonymous banner,” every time someone mentions Anonymous is just dumb.”

    No, it’s not. The media likes to treat Anonymous like it’s an organization. It’s important to point out that it’s anything but.

    Sorry if that means you have to type a few extra words.

  20. One thing I don’t see mentioned yet is the actions of VIsa and Mastercard locking down funds to wikileaks being censorship on an unprecedented scale. In the US, money in support of a cause is considered speech, for the purposes of supporting a cause, for the purposes of advertizing a ideology, etc… Even advertisement is protected as free speech. That all seems to have gone out of the window with Wikileaks. Freedom of speech unless the government decides it shouldn’t be free isn’t freedom of speech at all.

    I’ve been laboring under the assumption that what we are seeing in the governmental response to Wikileaks is the gameplan created for dealing with terrorist groups played out… Cut off their money, freeze their assets, financially starve them to death so that they can’t operate, cut off their access to communications, etc… And i’m further assuming that this is being done not only under the premise that Wikileaks is conducting espionage, but is also supplying support for terrorist organizations, and can be legally treated as a terrorist organization.

    So yes there is the story here that Wikileaks is under attack from all fronts, but a deeper undercurrent is that freedom of speech has been suspended to a great degree, not just in the US, but through the US and corporations within the rest of the world.

    1. “…a deeper undercurrent is that freedom of speech has been suspended to a great degree, not just in the US, but through the US and corporations within the rest of the world.”

      But why, precisely? To what end?

      What is it that we are not supposed to speak about?
      How can we know not to speak of it, if they do not tell us what it is?

      Seems kind of a stupid thing to do. I mean, from a theoretical point of view.

      1. It’s early for me, I apologize for an off topic post that’s not well thought out. That said, if money is speech… A bizarre twist of logic that has been used successfully to defend against regulating political campaign and other advertisements in the US for years, then payment processors cutting off our ability to financially support wikileaks is, in a non-trivial way, a way to censor us. We can’t use our money to express ourselves, we can’t spend it on speech through an organization we may wish to support. We can’t peacefully organize in the way we wish.

        If I’m right in my assumption that this is an anti-terrorism gameplan being played out, it means that anti-terrorism just got used to shut someone up. That someone wasn’t Wikileaks, that someone is us… We just got censored.

        1. Rob, I think you stumbled into genius with the money as free speech argument. Next puzzle is, what’s the difference exactly between free speech and “terrorism” by its post-nine-eleven definition? Is it terrorism if it actually puts some real-world pressure on the powers that be? I don’t know, I’m just thinking aloud here.

          1. Good question. Just what is it that defines terrorism. A quick glance over the definition on Wikipedia underscores the difficulty that the government has in defining what exactly terrorism is… multiple laws and departments seem to use their own definitions. This is the loosest legal definition I could find… .

            The USA PATRIOT Act defines terrorism activities as “activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state, that (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”

            One chief concern seems to be in drafting definitions of terrorism, not implicating the government as a terrorist state. Its harder than it sounds, apparently.


          2. Obviously, terrorism is always something that somebody else does.
            America is the class bully of the international community. It has some seven hundred military bases around the globe. Its economy at home crumbles under the weight of its military spending, which equals that of the rest of the world combined. It’s at all times involved in one, two or three wars. Nobody would call it terrorism. Right?

  21. I’ve been thinking of the DDoS attacks that Anonymous had launched as a dgital version of a sit-in. Think of the sit-ins at the Woolworths lunch counters, business was disrupted because there were so many people sitting in the store, regular customers couldn’t have their egg salad sandwhich sitting down (Or, a sit-in could be seen as denial of service attacks IRL) It was a protest against the corporate policies that prevented blacks from eating lunch like other customers.

    The recent Citizens United decision has highlighted how corportations use their powers to spend money and influence elections, almost creating “super citizens” inside the United States and other countries. However, those companies, and their polices act out on a global scale. How does someone in say… the Netherlands make a meaningful response to the coroporate polices of a multi-national company operating on US laws or under pressure from the US government? It’s not like our rethorical friend can call his Congress person.

    While I recognize that 2600 wants to seperate itself from script kitties and push button DDoS attacks, there also needs to be a way for people on the web to register their displeasure with the policies of foreign governments and companies beyond Facebook groups, online petitions and image macros. While they might be disruptive to commerce, as someone who values not only the freedom of speech but the right to protest as well, I do see value in DDoS attacks from time to time.

  22. The hell are the 2600? Sound like a bunch of old obsolete people. The net is ours now, and the only way you can prevent it from being ours is to turn it off altogether.

    Anonymous may be a bunch of randoms, but there is a very central cadre that will ensure this disruption continues. We have an agenda, we’re not as fractured as you think we are.

  23. This is a meaningless semantic argument, to the vast majority of people, the difference between some kid downloading LOIC and pressing a button and some hard core guy in a closet somewhere writing injectable shell code is way way beyond them. I like 2600, but it does sound like some sour grapes to me…

  24. 2600: These attacks, in addition to being a misguided effort that doesn’t accomplish very much at all, are incredibly simple to launch and require no technical or hacker skills.

    [cow pets 2600 writer on head] You’re very skilled with computers and I think you’re very technical.

    Now then…. Is this protest a contest to see who has the sharpest computer skills? How about expert car mechanics? Are they worthy? I know some highly skilled plumbers too, can they play?

    2600: Boycotts of companies that are trying to shut Wikileaks down can be very effective and will not win them any sympathy, as the current attacks on their websites are unfortunately doing.

    The people that had the critical thinking skills to support wikileaks in the first place; still support them now. Or is it only you, dear 2600 writer, that has those elite skills as well?

    Do they need hacker skills to participate in protest? NO. They need critical thinking skills, thank you very much. These attacks are a call to action to the people who still have healthy skepticism and aren’t fully indoctrinated by television and radio.

    It’s not a whimper. It’s a stern voice by the public, that’s says, “NO MORE. You corporatists have stepped over the line.” And, the more people support this stern voice, the better.

    If you think a boycott is going to penetrate the indoctrinated through the corporatist media firewalls, GOOD LUCK with that, because it hasn’t happened in decades.

    The media will hardly cover the boycott and it’ll die with a whimper if it’s not propagated by the mainstream media. The attack is covered by the mainstream media because it makes them money. It draws interest and advertising. A boycott will help, but will not work alone at this point… it’s too quiet, my friend. You absolutely have to use the corporatist media in ways where it’s weak and it’s only weakness is greed. They will cover the actions only if it’s interesting to the general public and it makes them…. MONEY.

    Are you trying to tell me there would be this much interest if there had only been a small boycott right now? C’mon… I thought you had elite critical thinking skills.

    The boycott needs to get HUGE. These attacks will have made that possible, nothing else could get through the mainstream media corporatist firewall.

    Meanwhile: WikiLeaks grows stronger as supporters fight back

    I respect 2600 magazine… but, that 2600 Hz whistle doesn’t work anymore, you’ll just be blowing hot air and nothing else. It’s time to realize the dynamics of the day.

  25. It may help to think of Anonymous not as an entity in itself, but as a means for creating a virtual flash mob.

  26. This is a meaningless semantic argument, to the vast majority of people, the difference between some kid downloading LOIC and pressing a button and some hard core guy in a closet somewhere writing injectable shell code is way way beyond them. I like 2600, but it does sound like some sour grapes to me…

    Then you sir, are a fool. 2600 has been at the forefront of the hacker world for decades. They encourage exploration of hacks and hacking and encouraging a world where folks are allowed to explore freely before this site existed and before web browsers were the norm.

    Also do you realize that your “This is a meaningless semantic argument, to the vast majority of people…” statement is a mess of logic? It assumes the negative that hacking is only negative and can only be associated to negative acts. Too cynical to be believed.

    This is not a l33t versus n00b debate. 2600 shows profound humility in many instances. They actually think out what they do before doing it. These DDoS attacks are a disaster for all. If they worked then Anonymous would not send out messages to their “Gentlemen” to call the whole thing off.

  27. “Assange is accused of having sex without a condom,”

    No, that is not what Assange is accused of. Look it up.

    From the Guardian:
    “…the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner. The second charge alleged Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used. The third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”. The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.”

  28. “This will play right into the hands of those who wish to paint us all as threats”

    But if we believe in openness, transparency, acountability, responsibility, morals, ethics, empathy… we ARE threats to the status quo.

  29. The rant about explanations of Anonymous’ status is a bit misplaced, I think. Sure, you and I know what Anonymous is — more or less — but not everyone does. When you consider that the media at first portrayed Anon as a coherent political activist group (or a terrorist group, depending), a certain amount of clarification is necessary to tell today’s story. And considering that even Al Qaeda is still being presented as a monolithic organization by certain segments of the media, it’s laudable that anyone cares enough to explain about Anonymous.

    1. I agree – the news report on the radio this morning called them an “International Hacker Organization.”

  30. Anonymous is the closest thing to a rebellion my generation (80’s to early 90’s) have. For long we have been a generation without profile. The internet is what we hold dear and Anonymous is our juvenile attempt to make a difference. We are cyber-hippies.

  31. OK, let’s ask the simple question again. Given that we absolutely know that citizen boycotts do not work outside the local (or hyperlocal to be pedantic) economy and people-in-the-streets style protests are completely ineffectual anymore- what outlet or means of resistance do the people have since their voices have been taken away? What means of speaking to power do the people have anymore?

    It doesn’t matter if you like it or not these DDoS attacks are the people trying to find a voice. The attacking of Prince Charles car is people trying to find a voice. What is dangerous is when you keep silencing and denying that voice because the reaction to that gets obviously more intense and unpredictable.

    1. WikiLeaks has a voice that now has been tied/tainted to a bunch of self-important script kiddies.

      You want to “protest”? Perhaps elevating WikiLeaks is better than DDoS’ing others.

      1. Please explain what putting the word protest in quotes is supposed to mean. Also, the same script kiddies are now sifting through the wikileaks cables and promoting them on mirror sites all over the place. Who do you think the most heavy participants of the mass mirroring project are?

        So again, what way is there for people to actually have their voice heard? Companies ignore boycotts, politicians ignore who elected them, hell, most people’s work is ignored by by their employer. It sure seems to any observer that all of these institutions are essentially only accountable to sensationalist whim (“death panels” etc. etc. pick your favorite).

        So, when that type of moronic, thuggish and fact free type of behavior is rewarded with attention (and lots and more lots of it), what is a person who seemingly has no voice in the discussion left to conclude? The only way to be heard is to behave and act equally, if not more so.

        Given that, I believe that a day’s take down of the face of these companies (again, no real harm to the bread and butter transactions) which is then followed with the ‘elevation of Wikileaks’ to be far more responsible behavior than expected.

      2. WikiLeaks has a voice that now has been tied/tainted to a bunch of self-important script kiddies.

        If you’ve researched how this has developed and you still think only script-kiddies were behind the attacks, then you’ve only succeeded in simplifying and compartmentalizing the attack into your own narrow (yet comfortable) world-view. Are you relying on the “anonymous images” that have been “published” to form your opinion on ALL the attackers and organizers on all fronts? It certainly appears so.

        Also, please explain to me what makes an anonymous person who takes the risk of being imprisoned without anyone knowing who they are or what they did … self-important? Maybe you’re simply projecting your very own self-importance on others?

        You want to “protest”? Perhaps elevating WikiLeaks is better than DDoS’ing others.

        Ok, you mirror (elevate?) wikileaks after it’s been taken down and we’re back where we started… then what???

        After all, these protests in the streets all over the world worked out great, huh?

        I wish more Americans could actually smell the death and suffering they’ve enabled through their inaction. Then again, maybe some of you would simply spray air freshener all over the place and call it the day.

        This is war. Real deaths. Real suffering. And, it really needs urgent addressing. Nothing else has worked and the will of the public has been ignored far too long.

        If you have new ideas that’ll break through the corporatist media firewall… then let’s hear it and I’ll support it.

  32. The (debatable) attacks show at least one thing: if it really would get hot, the net could kick the big companies (and probably governments) out. At least for a hurtful, maybe destroying amount of time. Because then it will be lots more of attackers.

  33. One thing I find curious:

    When Wikileaks got knocked off the net by some self-righteous vigilante nobody seems to care. It was taken as the “cost of doing business” for wikileaks, at least in the mainstream media.

    Now that a buch of self-righteous vigilantes decided to take out some organizations they don’t agree with it suddenly becomes a “war” in which the second group is bad while the first one is considered, what exactly? I haven’t heard any condamnation of those activities.

    Personally? The only way companies like Amazon etc. wills top self-censoring out of fear of losing money is if they do lose (more) money when they do self-censor.

    Will Anonymous et. al. make a difference? Probably not. What we do need to hope is that the newspaper “in the know” of the cables / wikileaks leaks are continuing to actually do the whole “press” thing.

  34. Let’s put the 2600 statement in context, shall we? Adrian Lamo works at 2600 magazine. Yes, that Adrian Lamo. The hacker who turned Bradley Manning, purportedly Wikileaks’ source, over to the authorities through his involvement with Project Vigilant. I don’t think it’s surprising that they would condemn attacks in support of Wikileaks.

    1. Actually, while I disagree with much of what 2600 magazine is saying in this press release, I’m pretty sure much of the 2600 community isn’t all that thrilled with Adrian Lamo being a traitor rat.

      ———- anyway….

      2600 magazine… what do you think of these fresh articles?

      Pro-WikiLeaks cyber army gains strength; thousands join DDoS attacks

      Hacker group defends attacks on WikiLeaks foes

      It’s OK to back away from your press release. You fucked up.

      1. Thanks, just reminding people of what happened, since the Adrian Lamo situation hasn’t been mentioned here in a while and some have short memories…

    2. Let’s put the 2600 statement in context, shall we? Adrian Lamo works at 2600 magazine. Yes, that Adrian Lamo. The hacker who turned Bradley Manning, purportedly Wikileaks’ source, over to the authorities through his involvement with Project Vigilant. I don’t think it’s surprising that they would condemn attacks in support of Wikileaks.

      Quoted for relevance!

      I picked up a copy of 2600 magazine in 1996. It said that women shouldn’t have web pages. Because men might say gross things to them, so they should stay offline. I can’t imagine taking them seriously for an instance, but what do I know, I mean, I wasn’t born with a penis.

  35. “fucking with honest, innocent and hard-working people”

    Again, this doesn’t sound a whole lot like an agnostic opinion.

  36. A cult is a religion with no political power. Tom Wolfe said that. A terrorist is someone changing the world with no governmental backing. I said that.

  37. The moral of the story is, “Don’t take a risk, because the nasty people might do something bad.”

    This is an absolutely fantastic way to affect change.

    In related news, I protest against street-crossing because people might be struck by a vehicle. Come on d00ds, just make the best of your block.

  38. WOW… the 2600 author has apparently spent less time on /b/ than I have, and I’m talking 5-6 hours a year here.

  39. I agree with 2600 on this, but then, unlike most Boing-boingers, I don’t see the wikileaks issue as clear cut or black and white. That is, I think it is simultaneously true that:

    1. A. It is appropriate for the government to keep some things secret, and wikileaks’ disclosures may risk the safety and prosperity of the country where my friends and family happen to live.
    2. B. Not everything the government wishes to keep secret should be kept secret, and wikileaks has performed an important service

    Both are true. So in my view, there isn’t a clear moral imperative to support wikileaks absolutely or condemn wikileaks absolutely. I don’t begrudge anyone, individual or corporation, who decides it isn’t their fight, or that the outcome of that fight isn’t important enough to make personal sacrifices for.

    On the otherhand, DDOSing widely used companies is unambiguously criminal. Setting aside the pointlessness and pettiness, it hurts us civilians. I did not choose to be part of this ‘wikileaks for us or against us’ debate, because I don’t think it is a yes or no question; others may be ardent supporters of wikileaks, yet still rely on the targeted merchants, hosts, and payment processors. The civilians have nothing to do with this. I’m not even sure these companies do; refusal to provide service is hardly an active position.

  40. ugh, too tired to read all 70+ replies so this may have been said.

    …not that I expect anyone to read mine now, of course!

    “Hacker” is a term that has been forever tainted. Think of it as being similar to the swastika symbol, the actual meaning of it is not what the general public thinks it is.

    1. Don’t be so sure…words have lives of their own.

      For me, hackers may always be found on the links.
      And greens.

    2. “Hacker” is a term that has been forever tainted. Think of it as being similar to the swastika symbol, the actual meaning of it is not what the general public thinks it is.

      The misunderstanding of “hacker” is along the same lines as misunderstanding what a “punk” is.

  41. Leaving aside wheather or not DDoS is a helpful tactic. Please do not conflate Anonymous with actual large scale social movements like the peace movement or environmental movement. Individuals loosely engaging in arrogate action is NOT the same thing as collective organizing or collective action. Social movements require an enormous about of on the ground grassroots organizing, careful planning, base building, trust building, structured institutions and horizontal accountability – all things Anonymous lacks. And its insulting to imply that the two are equivalent. Arrogate action ≠ collective action.

    1. Individuals loosely engaging in arrogate action is NOT the same thing as collective organizing or collective action.

      Right… and your methods really helped prevent the Iraq war… uh, wait….

  42. This might also be a good time for a re-read of Jo Freeman 1972 essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” which could offer some insights into the pros, cons and potential downfalls of group(ings) like Anonymous.

  43. “2600” wants it both ways, the cachet of being rebels against the Man, and also the paycheck and respect you get for working for the Man. Oops. Sorry, “hackers” only means “security professionals” BECAUSE it meant cybervandals first.

  44. Calling the script kiddies “hackers” is like calling a student sit-in at a lunch counter, an armed uprising. Those who participated in the counter-DDOS action on behalf of Wikileaks are not cybervigilanties but democracts. This was an Athenian democracy in action. It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that it is okay for the US government to conduct DDOS campaign’s against those it perceives to be a threat to its culture of secrecy, while condemning justifiable resistance against the invisible government which has sought to muzzle the press. While the limited DDOS action by Anonymous may result in further countermeasures by the US cryptogovernment, it has had some positive results.

    1. The DDOS action by the US government has been exposed.
    2. Both Paypal and the Swiss banking system has returned Wikileaks funds.
    3. Kids everywhere have learnt how to resist.
    4. The debate about citizen control over information has been raised.
    5. The propoganda campaign around hackers is now in the spotlight.

    If I request 1 html page I am considered a law-abiding citizen. If I request 1000x pages, I am an international terrorist?

    The statement by 2600 goes against the notion of natural justice. We should be allowed to gather and assemble in cyberspace and when necessary to engage in acts of civil disobedience of the type which ended race segregation.

  45. As much as I love you Cory, Anonymous IS NOT A MEME. It is not related to the self-preservation of the holder. And until recently it was not widely held as cogent in society [1]. – I blame this parallel on things like the Tea Party, where discontent is now mainstream.

    Three years ago, Anonymous was a meme. It became a Stand Alone Complex [2]. This has been said before [3]. It is far more dangerous than just a meme. Buying an iPhone is a meme.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme#Transmission
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Ghost_in_the_Shell
    [3] http://www.cydeweys.com/blog/2008/01/28/scientology-sac/

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