The Soul Of The New Hacktivist: NYT

Mar 18th, 2012 anonymity, wikileaks

On March 17th, 2012, Somini Sengupta wrote for the New York Times on the phenomenon of hacktivism and Anonymous.  With regard to Anonymous, Sengupta noted that we still haven't really figured out what the group is.  Is Anonymous a group of criminals?  Are they just making political protests?  Or, as my favorite Wired article explained, could Anonymous be a trickster, sort of like a modern day Loki?

Well, we're still not sure.  Anonymous is multifaceted and amorphous.  The article explained how Anonymous fought repression in Tunisia, advocated for animal rights in Tennessee, defended WikiLeaks, and yet will still enlisted innocent computer users into DDOS attacks on federal websites and attacked the Vatican.  It's that back and forth, that lack of a coherent direction that makes Anonymous so frustrating. 

Indeed, as Sengupta noted, "Anybody can be Anonymous.  And anybody who calls himself Anonymous can carry out an attack in its name."  Anonymous will try to help people one day, but the next day they'll threaten to bring the internet's root servers.  Seemingly, their only constant is their love of that Guy Fawkes mask . . .

800px-Anonymous_at_Scientology_in_Los_AngelesBecause nothing says "fight the man" like paying Warner Bros. $20 . . .


Whatever Anonymous is seeking, Sengupta believes that it "rewrote the hacktivist playbook" because it can challenge the "broader political and economic order."  I'll be curious to see how the organization (or lack thereof) reacts after the arrests of the LulzSec hackers.  Is Anonymous really a leaderless organization built on an idea?  Can it really challenge the political and economic order?  Or will Anonymous die and wither away, unable to trust its fellow hackers?

You can find the NYT source article here.    

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