Salon.com ran an article entitled “Anonymous Big Year”. It is essentially a celebration of the self-styled hacker collective. But let’s try for some actual balanced coverage here.
Sure they made a big fuss about SOPA/PIPA and they help organize protests when it’s something like the horribly useless Occupy movement. On the other hand, they cost hundreds of millions of dollars and deny ordinary citizens access to services. They also endanger lives by releasing names and addresses of at risk targets.
When they took Sony’s Playstation Network of line for months, that company’s alleged “crime” was its refusal to release the tools to hack their new PS3 console. To punish them, they hacked Sony’s database and stole the personal information of millions of members. This forced Sony offline until the Japanese government was convinced the security issue was solved. It cost the company millions in lost revenue and millions more in legal costs.
In 2011, Anonymous posted the names and addresses of members of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Force. This was in response to what they viewed as the wrongful shooting of a homeless man. One officer (cleared of any wrongdoing) made a judgement call so every officer on that force, and their families were put at risk of reprisals.
This is the group that Andrew Leonards article lavished such praise on. It is they who he is so happy his son supports. So let’s take a moment to realize this. These people aren’t selfless heroes keeping the digital frontier save for you and I. They are no better, and in some cases worse than those they claim to be protecting us from.
I’m not saying every member of Anonymous is a villain, but that’s the chance you take. If you want to bask in the glory of the best, you will also be tarred with the same brush as the worst. That’s the chance you take when you hide, shouting from the darkness. If you lack the confidence to publicly stand up for what you believe in, maybe you need to look at how strong that belief is.
Anonymous rails against faceless, unaccountable corporations and governments, yet they are the epitome of faceless unaccountability. It’s a little disingenuous claiming the moral high ground when you’re in the same mud as those you are looking to vilify.
These are just some of the many reasons I was so annoyed by Salon’s Anonymous love-in.