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Million Mask March: anons in the world's streets

"Million Mask Marches" were planned for 400 cities, through which people in Guy Fawkes masks took to the streets, in protest of many causes, "from corruption to fracking." Russell Brand attended the London rally: "Whatever party they claim to represent in the day, at night they show their true colours and all go to the same party." See more at #MillionMaskMarch.

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Anthem for a Million Mask March

Lisa Rein writes, "I recorded this dubstep track with a producer/musician friend of mine (who would like to remain anonymous for now) in honor of today’s Million Mask March going on in Washington D.C. and all over the world. This brand new remix, based on a song I first wrote in September 2011, when the Anons joined in solidarity with Occupy, is a thank you to Anonymous for reminding me that there is strength in numbers, and that we can all look out for each other and still do what’s right." Cory 10

Just another day in the Anonymous mines


Guy Fawkes mask factory, photographer unknown (please comment if you can identify her or him).

Update: A hint from the comments led me to the source of the photo: an article from Extra Online by Fabrício Provenzano. The photo is by Gabriel de Paiva -- click through to the article to see the uncropped, full-size version.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Civil disobedience and the Internet

Molly sez, "I wrote this short essay over at iO9 on what the future of civil disobedience could look like. Though in the past civil disobedience was enacted in the streets, with people placing their bodies in harm's way for their cause, now online activists can engage in digitally-based acts of civil disobedience from their keyboards. I lay out three major lines along which digitally-based civil disobedience is developing: disruption, information distribution, and infrastructure. The future of civil disobedience online lies in affinity groups combining these three styles of activism, and using a diversity of tactics to support a common cause."

Infrastructure-based activism involves the creation of alternate systems to replace those that have been compromised by state or corporate information-gathering schemes. In other words, if the government is snooping on the internet, activists build a tool to make it harder for them to see everything. Tor, Diaspora, and indenti.ca are some examples of these projects, as are the guerrilla VPNs and network connections that often spring up to serve embattled areas, provided by activists in other countries.

Similar to living off the grid, these projects provide people with options beyond the default. Open source or FLOSS software and Creative Commons use a similar tactic: when the system stops working, create a new system. The challenge is to bring these new systems into widespread use without allowing them to be compromised, either politically or technically. However, these new systems often have to fight network effects as they struggle to attract users away from dominant systems. Diaspora faced this issue with Facebook. Without being able to disrupt dominant systems, user migration is often slow and piecemeal, lacking the impact activists hope for.

The Future of Civil Disobedience Online

Scenes from #OccupyGezi

Three photos picked from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr, chosen for their vivid incongruities, and also to remind us all that Turkey still fights for the right to protest:


Another photo of the woman in red surfaces.

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MIT Master's Thesis on Denial of Service attacks as a form of political activism

Molly sez, "For the past two years I've been researching activist uses of distributed denial of service actions. I just finished my masters thesis on the subject (for the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT). Guiding this work is the overarching question of how civil disobedience and disruptive activism can be practiced in the current online space. The internet acts as a vital arena of communication, self expression, and interpersonal organizing. When there is a message to convey, words to get out, people to organize, many will turn to the internet as the zone of that activity.

"Online, people sign petitions, investigate stories and rumors, amplify links and videos, donate money, and show their support for causes in a variety of ways. But as familiar and widely accepted activist tools--petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing, call-in campaigns and others--find equivalent practices in the online space, is there also room for the tactics of disruption and civil disobedience that are equally familiar from the realm of street marches, occupations, and sit-ins? This thesis grounds activist DDOS historically, focusing on early deployments of the tactic as well as modern instances to trace its development over time, both in theory and in practice.

"Through that examination, as well as tool design and development, participant identity, and state and corporate responses, this thesis presents an account of the development and current state of activist DDOS actions. It ends by presenting an analytical framework for the analysis of activist DDOS actions."

This is a subject I've given some thought to -- after reading the introduction to Molly's thesis, I'm convinced that this is something I need to read in full.

DISTRIBUTED DENIAL OF SERVICE ACTIONS AND THE CHALLENGE OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE ON THE INTERNET (Thanks, Molly!)

How Anonymous got involved in fighting for justice for rape victims


Mother Jones's Josh Harkinson has an excellent piece on the history of KnightSec, an Anonymous offshoot that publicized the Steubenville and Halifax rape cases, galvanizing both the public and police responses to both. The piece includes an interview with Michelle McKee, who is credited with swaying a critical mass of Anons to participation in KnightSec. The whole story is pretty incredible, especially where it spills over into the real world:

The video went viral, and the next Occupy Steubenville rally drew 2,000 people to the courthouse steps. Because MC brought the sound system, he ended up serving as the de facto master of ceremonies (which is how he ended up with his Twitter handle). As he played excerpts of the Nodianos video over the loudspeakers, he told me, people in the crowd grew so angry that he started to worry that they would riot.

When the Steubenville sheriff showed up, MC invited him up and grilled him about the case. In the end, he diffused the tension by giving the cop a hug. "I'm going to take this negative energy and turn it into a positive thing," he remembers thinking. "You've got to let the crowd vent."

And vent they did. For four hours, there was a catharsis of personal pain and grief that nobody in the small town could have imagined. Women who had been raped stood in front of the crowd, clad in Guy Fawkes masks, to share their stories. Some of them unmasked at the end of their testimonies as they burst into tears. Rapes at parties, date rapes, rapes by friends and relatives—their pent-up secrets came pouring out. "It turned into this women's liberation movement, in a way," MC recalls. "And it just changed everything. There was nothing anybody could do against us at that point because it was so real and so true."

Exclusive: Meet the Woman Who Kicked off Anonymous' Anti-Rape Operations

File-sharing church solemnizes first wedding

The first-ever wedding sanctioned by the Church of Kopimism (an officially Swedish church that reifies copying and characterizes file-sharing as a sacred act) was convened last weekend. It was a beautiful and awfully funny and joyous occasion, judging from the video. Here's Torrentfreak's Ernesto with more:

It was only a matter of time before the first Kopimist couple would become married, and last weekend this joyful union took place at the Share conference in Belgrade.

On stage, a Romanian woman and an Italian man were joined in a holy Kopimist act. Both promised to share the rest of their lives together and to uphold the highest sharing standards.

The Church was delighted to bring the news and commented: “We are very happy today. Love is all about sharing. A married couple share everything with each other.”

Like any other matrimony, a Kopimism marriage is bound by rules. The Church of Kopimism allows the couple to share their love with others, as long as those others don’t steal it. Most importantly, however, they have to copy and remix themselves.

“Hopefully, they will copy and remix some DNA-cells and create a new human being. That is the spirit of Kopimism. Feel the love and share that information. Copy all of its holiness.”

Or to put it in the words of another famous religion: “Be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

File-Sharing Church Weds First Couple

AnonPaste: anything-goes, zero-knowledge version of PasteBin, hosted by some Anons

Jeroen Vader, the owner of PasteBin (a service that provides a simple way to share blobs of text, originally popular for sharing code-fragments and error messages, now also very popular as an anonymous repository for leaked documents and manifestos, especially those affiliated with Anonymous) has revealed that he sometimes shares his server logs with law enforcement agencies, and sometimes censors the material posted by Pastebin's users. People acting under the Anonymous banner and the People's Liberation Front have responded by creating a PasteBin clone called AnonPaste, running a free/open zero-knowledge PasteBin implementation called ZeroBin. AnonPaste's administrators claim that they will not censor or cooperate with law-enforcement, though as far as I can tell, there is no facility in ZeroBin for auditing the admins' adherence to these promises (that is, they could be censor-happy snitches and it wouldn't be easy to learn this fact or prove it to third parties). ZeroBin does have a facility for encrypting the data between the browser and ZeroBin, which means that to the extent that ZeroBin is free from defects, and the hosts of a ZeroBin instance have not added malicious (or incompetent) modifications, ZeroBin's administrators can't know what content is being hosted there.

AnonPaste's admins expressed their intentions in a press-release posted to their own service (of course!):

And so the PLF and Anonymous have teamed up to offer a paste service truly free of all such nonsense. Here is a brief list of some of the features of AnonPaste: 1) No connection logs, period. 2) All pastes are encrypted BY THE BROWSER using 256 bit AES encryption. This means there is no usable paste data stored on the server for the authorities or anyone else to seize. 3) No moderation or censorship. Because the data on our servers is unreadable by us (or anyone), the responsibility for the legality or appropriateness of any paste is the sole responsibility of the person posting. So there will be no need for us to police this service, and in fact we don't even have the ability of deleting any particular paste. 4) No advertisements. This service will be totally user supported through donations. Links for this are available on the web site. Paste services have become very popular, and many people want to post controversial material. This is especially so for those involved in Information Activism. We feel that it is essential that everyone, and especially those in the movement - have a safe and secure paste service that they can trust with their valuable and often politically sensitive material. As always, we believe in the radical notion that information should be free. SIGNED -- Anonymous and the Staff of the Peoples Liberation Front

Megan Geuss of Ars Technica has more detail:

Indeed, without the possibility of deleting information, authorities might argue the site poses a threat to personal privacy and institutional operations. Vader told Ars, "Here at Pastebin.com we think freedom of speech is very important, but we do think there should be some form of content moderation, because people do abuse paste websites, and if there is really no delete option, this could cause major harm." He added that yesterday his site released a "My Alerts" feature, which allows people to track names or keywords on Pastebin, so if illegal information shows up they can submit a takedown request to Pastebin in a timely manner.

And InfoWeek notes that ZeroBin has not been stress-tested against the kinds of DDOS and other attacks that might threaten AnonPaste's operation and philosophy of anonymity. As of this afternoon, access to AnonPaste has been on-and-off, suggesting there are still many hurdles for the endeavor to function at all.

Anonymous builds its own Pastebin-like site

Canada's Parliament summons Anonymous to testify

Idlepigeon sez, "Canada's government has moved to call Anonyomous to testify before the House Affairs Comitte, over threats made to a minister who's been pushing to pass Bill C30---online surveillance legislation. In this very funny piece from the Globe and Mail's Tabatha Southey, the entire Internet shows up to testify."

Anonymous is so nebulous that for the federal government to call Anonymous to testify is almost to call the Internet itself – something the government may regret.

“I'd to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today,” the first witness might say. “The threats against the minister are grave and on the advice of my consul, Mr. Fry, I'd just like to assure the minister that I … am never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna … ”

When political hacks subpoena online hackers, look out for :-(

(Image: Anonymous-Suit-black High Resolution PNG (2404 x 3890), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from thinkanonymous's photostream)

Bulgarian MPs wear Guy Fawkes mask for ACTA session

Apparently inspired by the Polish parliamentarians who showed up for work in Guy Fawkes masks for the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (a US-driven secret copyright treaty), members of Bulgaria's parliament repeated the trick.

The MPs say they support copyright laws, but oppose ACTA over its possible turning into an instrument to limit freedom of speech, to control internet use, and to turn into an obstacle for the exchange of information and knowledge online.

On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.

The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.

Bulgarian MPs Wear Guy Fawkes Mask to Protest ACTA (via Techdirt)