Dialog About Anonymous

I’ve been engaging in a lot of back-and-forth with colleagues about Anonymous, the hacker group that has potentially hijacked that moniker for the next decade or so. Are they an amazing group of activists? A bunch of idiots? Dangerous anarchists? Maybe.

Consider the koan: The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. Or perhaps more apropos, the Tao that can be seen is not the true Tao.

CoolHand sends me this:


I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost all respect for them. Their vigilantism has gotten way out of hand, and doesn’t even border on criminal anymore – it is criminal. I don’t care what you think about this Marine (I personally think he’s trash), but Anonymous has no right to pull this BS. They quite clearly think of themselves as above all laws, except perhaps their own – though I have a sneaking suspicion they’re anarchists (I despise anarchists – they’re the worst kind of idiots). Case in point, the actions they took in support of Megaupload are inexcusable. Sounds to me like the government’s case there is pretty rock solid, and knowing what kind of stuff Megaupload was hosting, it’s definitely just. I fear the government and all its Big Brother spying ability less than I do self righteous assholes who think hacking makes them into cyber heroes. I think all these guys should be arrested and forced to live with the Amish, the Inuit, or some Mongolian horse tribes without so much as an abacus. Let’s see them try to steal or break into something in one of those societies. I’m not normally one for Draconian measures, but cutting off their hands doesn’t sound half bad right now.

Which really gets me caught up in that spirit for a moment! Yes, it’s easy to agree that in a lot of ways these people are idiots. This particular action, at least, sounds like an example of core Anonymous values. There are others that make me wonder.

For instance, for an organization that’s supposedly fervently volunteerist, wouldn’t is be stupid for Anonymous to trick people into downloading their Low Orbit Ion Cannon website DDOS tool? Apparently that’s what they did. Of course, I can’t easily argue anyone or everyone “in” Anonymous is smart. But boy, if I wanted to screw their public image, pulling a “sucker” scheme on the foolish would be a delightfully insidious way to make Anonymous look bad, very much like dressing in the uniform of the enemy and committing atrocities. This makes me skeptical of everything on every side, which I suppose is the correct attitude of the Netizen these days. Too bad.