When Anonymous met politics

Quinn Norton continues her excellent history of Anonymous for Wired, this time visiting the shift in the movement from pure transgression to political activism, and the way that this played out among Anons themselves:

Anonymous fundamentally produces two things: spectacle and infrastructure hacking. They create scenes the media often can’t resist, but they also tend to be ones that the media isn’t very good at understanding. The rest of the time they create or destroy online infrastructure, much of which never directly gets noticed. Op Payback & Assange combined the two, but were mainly spectacle. None of the attacks disrupted the function of the targeted entities for long, if at all, but that was missed by much of the media, who instead confused people into believing that they wouldn’t be able to use their Visa or MasterCards to buy gas or groceries, thanks to Anonymous.

Anonymous 101 Part Deux: Morals Triumph Over Lulz


    1. This is a moot point. It depends on whether the ‘none’ is conceived of as a homogeneous mass or independent individuals. Doubly sorry – couldn’t resist! (Fuck it. I can’t find the emoticons on my new phone.)

        1. “None” , being “not one”, is clearly not singular, because “one” is just that. 
          It is nongular.  =]

          Oh, and I actually am anonymous.
          Sometimes. Some places.

  1. “that was missed by much of the media, who instead confused people into believing that they wouldn’t be able to use their Visa or MasterCards to buy gas or groceries, thanks to Anonymous”

    The thing is that they really didn’t. The vast majority of people who use credit cards had no idea that any of this was going on at all. Any effect was after the fact and would in fact make people more likely to, say, support laws to “crack down on internet terrorists”.

    1. But many people who watched the news at 6, heard how these evil hackers had declared cyberwar, cyberattacks, etc. and were going to take down massive corporations! 
      They reported on less and now everyone can have their balls cupped before getting on a plane.
      The dial of ZOMG WE HAVE TO DO THIS OR WE ALL DIE is turned up to 11.5 in the US, and people still kneejerk react to the fear of what they do not understand and want someone to protect them from.  When the politicians and the media terrorize you… who do you turn to?

      1. Anonymous behaviour is criminal.  Attempt to deflect that fact using ‘what if’ just don’t work. We belong in a society ruled by laws, not a society based on intimidation by those who hide behind the Internet to commit crimes. Those who are caught engaging in cyber-crimes such as Anonymous aren’t going to say “Yes, I am proud of what I did.” Instead they are going to say “You can’t prove it.”

        It is Anonymous who has the “kneejerk reaction,” by not taking the time to think out the legal consequences of their actions. The people effected by those cyber crimes lives will move on, but they will be justified in seeking civil suits against those who committed those crimes.

        1. So your saying I am a criminal.
          While I have a nym (several infact) I am still anonymous, to anyone without the authority to issue legal documents demanding certain information from different service providers who will be encouraged to do so quietly and without alerting me that someone is digging into the things I say/do online.
          Please support your allegation or rephrase, for all you know I am in the UK and it would not be Libel Tourism for me to haul you before the court for disparaging myself.

          Your society ruled by laws sounds interesting, would you care to support that assertion in the face of Congress making sure many laws they inflict on the people do not actually apply to them?

          Intimidation online vs the intimidation of our leaders using “brown people” and terrorists as the reason for vacating all of our civil liberties?

          Last I looked LuLzSec were sailing off laughing their asses off, they set out on a mission and they proved it.  Funny how more time is spent trying to find the LuLzBoat in the Bermuda triangle of the internet than to … oh I dunno deal with the embarrassing state of online security and the complete failure of an international corporation to keep customer records safe and then decide they own enough congresscritters to skip the congressional hearings on the matter.

          Legal consequences just got serious, America has been declared a battlefield and US citizens can and will be held without the benefit of the rule of law that is the law of the land.

          As to the poor people hurt by these cybercrimes…
          Name them.
          I’ll start…
          The Sony Network Hacks – 1,2,3,4,5, et al.
          ZOMG Anon got the credit card numbers, except they never managed to proved it was Anonymous beyond a questionable text file asserting blame to them conveniently found on the server.
          What everyone wants to overlook is the ease with which Sony online assets went down around the globe, infact one was running a Control and Command server for malware, and to pretend the people who accessed the system were the first and only people to gain access to the Sony network shows a lack of imagination.  They had no security, they did not encrypt CC#’s they took no steps to protect customers because that might cost them a few dollars.  The people who outed Sony as being inept actually helped people.
          People learned Sony was doing NOTHING to keep their information secure, and might have been the source of several CC#’s getting compromised.
          People learned that using the same password everywhere means your a freaking moron, people screaming because they had to change all of their passwords now because it was published online shows a certain selfcentered thinking pattern that security is the other guys problem.

          The Sony hack required no real skill or talent, but funny I do not see Sony in court having to cover costs for the people they left hanging. 

          Its been entertaining ripping your post apart, but you really should try harder.  Or are you thinking the little boy who stuck his finger in the dike and saved the country should have been sued for showing everyone shoddy dike construction?

  2. While any discussion of Anonymous is going run into trouble due to the dual nature of Anonymous a single entity, and a collective, this article does seems to do a good job of chronicling the various things done in the name of Anonymous.

  3. Sadly, the articles haven’t answered an essential question; will Anonymous ever plan or do anything useful, or will they continue to just be bothersome distractions?

  4. I think of Anonymous as a force of nature that anyone can attempt to channel toward a goal, though you will almost definitely fail, or worse, since they especially don’t like to be channeled.

    Mostly, they like to bring Grief on whatever their groupthink definition of Evil is on any given day. So to channel them, you’d have to convince them that a target is Evil, and that a Grief is actionable, “fun”, and very easy.
    Griefers gonna grief.

    1. I don’t know if I agree with the defining a thing as evil even works. Tell that to the parents of a young girl who died in an auto accident, and then, weeks later, had her memorial webpage plastered with pictures from the crime scene.

      Though, at the same time, you’ve got the case of the WW II veteran who was having a birthday party. Anonymous found out, and the family eventually had to plead with them to stop sending cards, cakes, and presents, because they had no room.

      Anonymous just does things.

      1. An act of kindness doesn’t undo the act of a crime. People who commit crimes do show acts of kindness and generosity. The distinction of ‘good and evil/bad’ makes it easier to tell stories. Life is jut not like that. This doesn’t mean we should praise good actions and condemn bad actions.

        1. Oh, I was never implying that we should absolve Anonymous of any wrongdoing because of a kindness, just that in no way can Anonymous be channeled. Even if a thing is evil, you can’t goad Anonymous into attacking it. They do what they do, regardless of what anyone may or may not want.

  5. Anonymous is inevitable. They will act regardless of approval….And I for one welcome our new faceless overlords!

    1. As if the masquerade  of politics wasn’t already sufficiently “anonymous” – so that for every major mistake there is pretty much never a responsible.

      Political process is all about anonymity of a sort – true responsible never get to see the judgment – so you do not have to crave to new faceless overlords. Your actual overlords are already faceless and possess much more power.

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