Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anonymous

Like many of you, I have followed the online adventures of faceless collective “Anonymous” with some interest over the past few years. While the origin of the group is somewhat difficult to chronicle, most agree they began entering the public consciousness around 2007 when they participated in taking down a website belonging to white supremacist Hal Turner. Later that same year, it was later reported that the group had played a role in the arrest of accused Canadian sexual predator Chris Forcand.

Since that time they have been linked to attacks on the Church of Scientology, the Iranian Government, Sony, Koch Industries, the Vatican, and the CIA website amongst others. While they have not yet released their official mission statement, it appears that they dislike censorship, discrimination, oppression and Tom Cruise (in that order). While in general all these all seem to be admiral causes for action, what constitutes censorship has cast the group as both hero and villain depending on how you perceive their reasoning.
Perhaps even writing about them has placed my website in grave danger of being brought down by massive amounts of web traffic (I am certainly in no danger of that occurring solely on the merits of my writing). In many cases, I find myself applauding their stance on freedom of speech and feel that the media attention they bring to certain issues is constructive and unique. Other times it appears they arbitrarily select targets based on visibility of the attack rather than any adherence to a moral credo. At one point, they were linked to an attack on The Internet itself. Wouldn’t it be counterproductive for an organization to disable the very medium that makes its existence possible or necessary?

At any rate, I do enjoy the creative naming of their cyber-maneuvers. With names like Operation Mayhem, Operation Pharisee, and Operation Blitzkrieg who wouldn’t want to participate? T-shirt sales alone could keep the group in Taco Bell fourthmeals for the next three years. My favorite name would have to be 2010’s Australian campaign “Operation Titstorm.” Despite the nomenclature, it is not a meteorological phenomenon conjured by an enterprising frat, rather it was a coordinated effort to stop Australian government censorship of Internet pornography.

I suppose that as long as there is an Internet there will be Internet protestors, and I imagine it is difficult to amass a case against people identifiable only by vaguely militaristic handles like Commander X or General Pandemonium. It also appears that the very anonymity that shields participants can be the source of a public relations nightmare. After all, what is stopping some 14 year old kid in Wisconsin from posting a video as the group claiming responsibility for intermittent unavailability of Siri or Snooki’s pregnancy?

Since it appears that Anonymous is determined to continue their virtual exploits into the foreseeable future I do have a list of web presences I would like to see brought down:
1.      Courtney Stodden’s Twitter Account
2.      Banner Ad’s that promise a free iPad.
3.      Multiple Facebook posts of music videos with the caption “This is my JAM!!!”
4.      The company that keeps calling my cell phone at all hours of the night because I have been selected to “lower my credit card bills.”
5.      The promotional website for any horror film that promises “psychological damage” from repeated viewings.
6.      Both Paul Walker fan websites.

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