Update: ‘Anonymous’ announces ‘Operation Loveback‘: a campaign to send Christmas cards to Bill O’Reilly
During the civil rights era, the sit-in became a popular and effective form of protest against businesses that denied service to black people. Though legally ambiguous at first, the harsh reactions of authorities against the peaceful protesters ultimately won over public opinion.
Something similar is happening today on the Internet.
A wave of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) in the past weeks knocked the world’s two largest credit card providers and the web’s largest payment processor offline, stopped business as a Swiss bank and crashed servers for Swedish prosecutors. It was all done allegedly in response to the censorship of secrets outlet WikiLeaks, in an effort dubbed “Operation Payback.”
All of these actions were attributed to the “hacktivst” group “Anonymous,” which has adopted a low-tech response to high-tech censorship by way of clogging a website’s servers with traffic and repeatedly asking it to do what it was designed for: serving pages. Until this point, most high profile DDoS attacks were carried out for unsavory purposes, by networks of hacked computers being manipulated without users’ knowledge.
This time, it’s different.
Using a piece of old server stress-testing software called “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” (or “LOIC,” a name taken from PC strategy game Command and Conquer), protest participants point their Internet connections at a server and begin sending requests. If enough people join in, the servers can ultimately be overwhelmed by traffic, resulting in a denial of service to other users.
For businesses like PayPal or Amazon, which exist primarily online, this can be costly and even lethal — but the protest is not exactly a crime. Not yet, anyway. It’s not exactly “anonymous,” either.
“[Attacks] generated by this tool are relatively simple and unveil the identity of the attacker,” they wrote. “If hacktivists use this tool directly from their own machines, instead of via anonymization networks such as Tor, the Internet address of the attacker is included in every Internet message being transmitted.”
Operating the LOIC directly, they said, is akin to “overwhelming someone with letters, but putting your address at the back of the envelope.”
So far, a lone, Dutch 16-year-old has been arrested for the protests that brought down MasterCard’s website and halted transactions for several hours. In addition to participating in the DDoS, he’s accused of running a chatroom and helping to organize more voluntary contributions to the protest.
Still, much of the international press characterizes the efforts as “hacking” and “attacks” against private industry. This appears to be a mis-perception according to Evgeny Morozov, who wrote in Foreign Policy that voluntary DDoS networks represent the new sit-in.
“[Both] aim at briefly disrupting a service or an institution in order to make a point,” he opined. “As long as we don’t criminalize all sit-ins, I don’t think we should aim at criminalizing all DDoS.”
“Like it or not, legal or illegal, various forms of protest and civil disobedience have always been part of the politic process in the USA and elsewhere in the world,” a blogger on LockerGnome opined. “If a DDoS or any other type of cyber attack is launched by like-minded individuals and it is for some cause, I can not view it as anything other than some newer form of civil disobedience. Furthermore, if there are like-minded individuals out there who do view it as such, it has already become such.”
A similar tactic was used to protest the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when protesters staged a series of cyber sit-ins and brought down sites connected to the British government.
The “Anonymous” group, mostly amorphous and lacking a single spokesperson, has taken to YouTube to wage a battle for public opinion and pull in others to their cause.
“Anonymous is a spontaneous collective of people who share the collective goal of protecting the freedom of information on the Internet,” a recent video said. “Anonymous is not always the same group of people. Anonymous is a living idea. Anonymous is an idea that can edited, updated, remanded, changed on a whim. We are living consciousness.
“We ask for the world to support us, not for our sake but for your own. When governments and corporations control information, they control you. When governments are allowed the power of censorship, they are able to commit grave atrocities and act in corrupt ways, free from the scrutiny of those from who their power derives. When corporations are capable of using their vast amounts of wealth to manipulate or influence the free flow of information, they control you. We are taking a stand against this. We refuse to be deceived.”
The group’s latest update focuses on “Operation Leakspin,” an evolution of their campaign against WikiLeaks’ opponents. “Anonymous” plans to disseminate across the Internet the “best, least exposed leaks” in the stolen US State Department cables.
WikiLeaks has said that it is in no way connected to “Anonymous,” but added that they neither approve nor disapprove of their actions.
This video was posted to YouTube by user LetterFromAnon on Dec. 9, 2010.
Humanitarian volunteer says he won’t be deterred after facing charges in Arizona for helping migrants
We broadcast live from Tucson, Arizona, where the government recently put humanitarian activist Scott Warren on trial amid the ongoing policing of the U.S.-Mexico border, separation of families, and cruel and inhumane conditions at immigrant jails across the country. Warren, a longtime volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, was charged with three felony counts for his alleged crime of providing food, water and shelter to migrants in Ajo, Arizona. The immigrants had arrived at the doorstep of a humanitarian shelter after a perilous journey across the Sonoran Desert. At the same time, he and other volunteers also faced separate misdemeanor charges for leaving water jugs and food for migrants on a national wildlife refuge in the remote desert. The trial took eight days, and after hours of deliberation, the jury returned without a verdict. Eight found Scott Warren not guilty; the remaining four said he was. The government will now retry Warren in November. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. As he awaits his next trial, Scott Warren met us in the remote town of Ajo, Arizona, this weekend for his first trip in a year to leave water and food for migrants in the desert.
Trump tweets out bonkers conspiracy theory that Google ‘manipulated’ up to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton
President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted out a bonkers conspiracy theory claiming that Google "manipulated" up to 16 million votes on behalf of former Democratic rival during the 2016 presidential election.
"Wow, Report Just Out!" the president wrote. "Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!"
Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought! @JudicialWatch
Trump’s economic adviser doesn’t see a recession coming — but he said the same thing in 2008
President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser insists there are no signs of a recession on the horizon -- but he's been staggeringly wrong before.
Larry Kudlow went on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend to assure viewers that no economic downturn was coming, but the Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out that his track record for predictions was pitiful.
“Well, I’ll tell you what: I sure don’t see a recession,” Kudlow told host Chuck Todd. “So I think actually the second half, the economy’s going to be very good in 2019.”