We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget

A representative of the hackivists changing 21st century protest offers us a manifesto

Arts+Culture Feature
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GREETINGS, PEOPLE OF THE WORLD - WE ARE ANONYMOUS

There are many theories about us. That we’re anarchists, kids, crazy film-buffs that saw one too many superhero movies. The truth is, we are all these things. Anonymous is a symbol, like the flag a country flies. The flag is the symbol of the country. Our masks are our national identity. We are not Anonymous – we represent the ideals of Anonymous. Truth, freedom and the removal of censorship. Like any symbol, we affix it wherever we go, as you have seen from street protests. 

We have no leaders, civilians or soldiers. We are all one. We run operations because that is what the group decides to do. We choose targets because that is what the people who represent the ideals of Anonymous want to fight for. The world is in trouble. We see it every day – war, poverty, murder. Every day we are bombarded with news and images, as we sit at home safe in the knowledge that we are powerless, that “better” minds are dealing with the situation. 

But what if you could be the change you want to see? 
I’m 25 years old. I went to school and college. I fought for my country then got a job and paid my taxes. If you met me on the street I wouldn’t even register on your radar. I am just another person in a sea of faces. 

But in cyberspace we are different. We helped free the people of Egypt. We helped fight against Israel as it attempted genocide. We exposed more than 50,000 paedophiles around the world. We fought the drug cartels. We have taken to the streets to fight for the rights you are letting slip through your fingers. 

We are Anonymous.

In today’s world we are seen as terrorists or at best dangerous anarchists. We’re called “cowards” and “posers” for hiding behind masks, but who is the real poser? We take away the face and leave only the message. Behind the mask we could be anyone, which is why we are judged by what we say and do, not who we are or what we have. 

We exist without nationality, skin colour or religious bias. 

You wage wars, lie to us and try to make us believe it’s for our own good.
Yet we’re the criminals?

We spend our time within a structure we created, the sum total of human experience spread throughout the world in ones and zeros. When CERN created the internet backbone,
the goal was to freely share knowledge and learning with others throughout the world.
You fear us because you do not understand us. You see the results but not the minds behind it. When we took down PlayStation you saw your personal details, your bank details
– the things which society says makes up you
– disappear into the ether, but ask yourself this.
If we could do it so easily, what’s to stop someone else?

We stole the information and then publicly took responsibility. Not a single penny was stolen. The purpose wasn’t financial gain but to show the world who you put your trust in. Every day you send yourself off into our world without a thought. You trust a faceless website with information about you that you wouldn’t give to your best friends. We took advantage of holes in this system, but we didn’t sneak in and take a few details, take out loans and credit cards, buy speedboats and cars. We told you and the world how insecure the system was, and now you trust a bit less blindly. The real criminals that hack computers for a living live off the backs of people like you. Where there’s money, there’s someone looking to take advantage of it. We had been telling PlayStation for years that there were holes in their security, but because they didn’t want to look weak they ignored us and allowed criminals to abuse your details without your knowledge.  

Today’s biggest issues are really the same as ever and that is knowledge. In the UK a paedophile would get ten years, while the hacker that exposes the paedophile would get 20. Even DDoSers can face years in prison, and for what?

A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service attack) is no worse than a virtual sit-in. If anything it’s better, because it requires no police, ambulance, fire or any form of external services. An attack begins and the website goes down, the attack ends and the website goes back up. The problem is that hackers and hacktivists are portrayed as boogiemen. Not much has changed since the days of Kevin Mitnick, imprisoned in solitary confinement because the American police thought he could whistle nuclear-missile launch codes down a phone. 

Today, technology is everywhere, in banks and ATMs, TVs and games consoles, streetlights and hospitals. Computers rule the modern world. Yet most people who use computers every day don’t know what they’re doing.

You use a computer like it’s a toy, a pet. You feed and play with it but the second anything goes wrong, it’s off to the vet. This wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t for the fact that your pet is responsible for the lives of at least 20 other people. 

Take Nerdo (his name is now public knowledge but I will continue to use his online handle), a church volunteer and student at Northampton University. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for “organising” a DDoS attack on PayPal that, the company said, cost £3.5 millon. But what did he actually do, and what happened to the money? 

What he actually did was hang around IRC and forums encouraging as many people as possible to run a DDoS attack against paypal.com in response to the firm cutting off donations to WikiLeaks. 
And what happened to the £3.5 million that was “lost”? Nothing. 

There was no theft. That money isn’t sitting in an offshore bank. It was a number pulled out of thin air, PayPal’s estimate of how much business was lost during the attack and how much it would cost to secure their systems against another attack. This is like a burglar being held accountable for the company he robbed installing a new security system because the burglar beat the old one. PayPal was not ready for this kind of protest against their company, despite the large amounts of cash it was dealing with. A bunch of people sitting in front of a computer managed to close it down. 

This is hacktivism in its purest form. It is a great equaliser. A homeless person at an internet cafe with the time and knowhow can have geopolitical influence. They can bring entire organisations, even governments, to their knees. You gave your world over to computers then complained when the people using the computers used the medium to fight back. 

We are not computer hackers. We are not protesters. We are not criminals. We are your mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, next-door neighbours. 

We are anyone and everyone who is pissed off and wants to do something about it. 

An Anonymous operation isn’t a five-person thing. It requires hundreds of people to make it work – video makers, whistleblowers, people on the street. The only way an Anonymous operation can sustain itself is through public support. If Nerdo had gone after PayPal on his own it probably wouldn’t have even noticed the increase in packet data being sent to the website. But because the firm angered enough people with its attack on WikiLeaks, our “hangout”, the group consciousness, Anonymous, stepped up. 

I’m not going to tell you that we are right or wrong. We did what we thought was best, supported those that were caught and continued on. The only thing I ask is just for one minute, just for one second, think! 

> We are Anonymous. 
> We are Legion. 
> We do not Forgive. 
> We do not Forget.

> EXPECT US!

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