In recent weeks, supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks rallied online using Twitter and Facebook to plan ddos attacks (distributed denial of service- intended to force a site offline by denying services to intended users).
1.) Supporters call themselves “Anonymous,” and have conducted attacks on PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Amazon.
2.) Similar attacks happened to the Wikileaks site before the launch of the Iraq War Logs, so Assange’s supporters have dubbed their actions “Operation Payback.”
3.) Anonymous seems to be operating under the assumption that “Anyone who is not my friend is my enemy.”
4.) Attacking companies that refused to support Wikileaks but were not actively opposing it can only be classified as cyber terrorism.
THE REAL ISSUE:
People who would never dream of throwing a brick through a window are able to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to attack companies virtually by simply clicking a link. This seems epidemic in our virtual world: click the button and don’t worry that there might be real-world ramifications. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/the-web-is-lawless-but-wont-stay-that-way
The bandwagon appeal of joining a Facebook group or following a Twitter profile combines with the drama of being an activist- becoming part of something larger than you are. Maybe that’s what bothers me the most about this whole thing- the concept that with next to no effort, information or sense of personal responsibility, people worldwide are teaming up-not to raise money or fix things- but to destroy. We always hear about jihad, but this is terrorism too.
Assange was in the running for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, but the title was awarded Wednesday morning to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In an interesting tweet on Wednesday, AnonymousIRC tells a follower that there will not be an attack on Time Magazine’s website, saying, “ddos is no method to fight for freedom of speech. Especially not against press.”
This statement is telling because Anonymous presumably is fighting to preserve freedom of speech. In 1929, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that free speech must include “Freedom for the thought we hate.” Anonymous has given no “freedom” because much like other extremists in religion/ politics, those with opposing views face retribution.