Anonymous hack the English Defence League

Last night, Anonymous declared war, releasing the details of EDLs. Were they right to?

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Yesterday afternoon, the hacker group Anonymous dropped a video declaring war on the EDL. They accused them of using Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich last Wednesday to fuel a campaign of hate, and said it would start a "systematic and comprehensive decimation" of the far-right group.

At 9pm, @Anonmanufacture published a "lovely big release" of supposed mobile phone numbers of senior EDL members and donors. According to @Illsecure, another hacking group, #TeaMp0isoN, were actually responsible for 90% of yesterday's leaks, which were originally published between 2009 and 2012. But regardless of when the information was generated, the EDL responded by shutting down their Facebook for the night. 

@Anonmanufacture's feed, along with other Anonymous accounts associated with #OpEDL, were subsequently deleted by Twitter, most likely because of privacy issues, and we are not allowed to direct you towards the URL. However, the datadump, containing names, addresses and criminal convictions, is currently circulating on Twitter and easily findable. One of your friends may have already tweeted the link this morning. 

Despite the success of the release, the hackivist community is far from an ideologically enforced, monolithic group. In fact, by their nature, as a democaratic and radically de-centralized protest movement, they disagree and debate, and this recent doxing (sharing of private info) appears to have divided opinion within the hive. We asked two Anons to present the for and against. 

Anon 1

"We hope the outcome will be to raise massive awareness, especially at this time where the EDL are trying to capitalise on Woolwich, and to shock the EDL as they see their info floating freely, and quite frankly because it is a hilarious form of two-fingered salute.

Some of what has been published has been republications of already leaked info, some has been new. Admittedly while that was made clear by the main OpEDL accounts the fact that some was a republication was lost as the leaks went more viral. 

The outcome we were hoping for appears to be happening. We are hoping to raise awareness of racist/fascist attitudes of much of the EDL and their support base by provoking discussion and responses from them, as they have kindly provided.

It’s been wonderful to see the EDL taking many of their social media platforms down, (including their main Facebook page which they had been using to gain reactionary support since Woolwich from people that may not fully understand the true racist nature of much of the EDL's hierarchy) in a panic. That was unexpected but an awesome bonus.

As for the possibility that it may cause harm for EDL members etc this is something we have to think carefully about. Much of the information that was published that could possibly help someone cause and EDL member harm (for example addresses) had been previously published on the internet, either that or it has been extracted from EDL member's profiles where they have put the information online themselves. We have purposefully left out any information to do with EDL member's families and children. 

We are not only panicking and embarrassing the EDL but are also generating debate through the media attention. We hope this will help show people, perhaps have been convinced by the EDL's recent publicity campaigns, that there is a darker side to the EDL.

We hope that no one is stupid enough to attempt to use any information we release for violent acts and condemn in the strongest sense anyone who does if they do. But quite frankly if some mysterious 'attacker' wanted to attack the EDL, our releases would be of little new use to them. The EDL are opening themselves up to attacks much more at their provocative demos.

By republishing old (and mostly still accurate) EDL data we are not only panicking and embarrassing the EDL but are also generating debate through the media attention. News of the Op gets passed around on social media and discussions ensue. We hope this will help show people (who perhaps have been convinced by the EDL's recent publicity campaigns) that there is a darker side to the EDL. By publishing their current numbers we are opening channels of communication. After all, the EDL state they always want debates with those who don't agree with their views."

Anon 2

"In the past I've enjoyed watching the EDL members rage as their websites fell to DDoS attacks and organised trolling. This time as well as cyber attacks Anonymous is releasing a lot of personal dox of EDL members, mostly from those who have donated to the group. This means people are being targeted solely because they have supported something that they believe in. Basic ideals behind Anonymous are the right to free speech, to be heard no matter who you are and of course, anonymity when doing so. Just because some EDL members are violent or incite violence does not justify attacks on random members  - this is a possibility when their details are released publicly, considering current tensions.

One of the basic ideals behind Anonymous is the right to free speech, to be heard no matter who you are and – of course – anonymity when doing so. Just because some EDL members are violent or incite violence does not justify attacks on random members.

The latest wave of action is a response to the EDL's horrendous capitalization on the brutal murder of an innocent man, and the resultant increase in support for the EDL. Anons are used to taking opportunities as they find them when working against large companies, websites, governments etc. and releasing dox where possible is a commonly used tactic, but this is a very different target and I wonder whether Anons have taken this into account.

I wouldn't describe doxing alone as a form of protest but as a tactic that can be useful to protests, for exposing secrets or as a collateral damage technique. When used against the right target, how appropriate it is doesn't come into the equation - Anonymous never said they would play fair.

What do I think the outcome will be? Maybe mild amusement. Hopefully nothing serious will happen to EDL members, and key members are so used to the opposition that this is nothing new to them. They don't know if we're Muslim or not, so we don't exactly fit into their propaganda. It might have some unpleasant results the next time EDL members come across an Anonymous protest."

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