While most of Sunday’s buzz came from Super Bowl festivities, blackouts and Beyoncé, the hacktivist group Anonymous quietly launched its next blitz against the U.S. government: A widespread release of 4,000 bank executives’ credentials, login and personal information stolen from government websites.
While this information was quickly removed and never verified, it can be taken as a message to the security constructs of our government. Only banks and their affiliates are in danger of this wave, but Anonymous has shown that it has a considerable amount of influence.
This is one of the first attacks in Anonymous’s campaign called “Operation Last Resort.” Anonymous declared in a video last Friday that this campaign is a response to the government’s lack of Internet crime definition reform.
In the wake of Reddit co-founder and Internet activist Aaron Swartz’s suicide, Anonymous stated that his death was a direct result of improper and outdated Internet crime laws. The U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts prosecuted him as a “felon” for an unworthy act — downloading JSTOR articles and posting them to the Web.
This was made clear after Anonymous hacked a government website, vandalizing the front page with a video about Swartz’s death being “a line that has been crossed.”
As far as I’ve seen, the media has used every opportunity they can get to report on these incidents. That said, most news outlets leave bias completely absent in these reports. Even Fox News keeps it droll and simple.
News reports hesitate to speculate on repercussions of Anonymous’s actions and hold their tongues on “what the public should think,” something news centers usually chomp at the bit to do first.
I’m here to change that.
As a 21-year-old college student who is always connected to the Internet, I’m a huge fan of Anonymous’s message. It is an activist group that wants political reform of Internet laws. Anonymous claims that the laws about Internet crime are too broad and were developed long before the Web was as sophisticated as it is today.
At a fundamental level, Anonymous is right. Laws about stealing, impersonation, identity theft and harassment all change in the realm of cyberspace. Additionally, laws created about the Internet in the late 1990s don’t really apply to 2013.
Don’t sit there and tell me the Internet hasn’t changed since I was 8 years old.
Anonymous wants these laws changed. I think we can all agree that they should be. I don’t like the idea of going to jail for loving music or sharing photos.
But what of Anonymous’s methods?
In proper radical group fashion, Anonymous’s tactics are dangerous and illegal. It posts videos on Youtube with voice simulation software and hack government websites to propagandize its layouts. Anonymous also has access to government information, and it has apparent intention to make it public through Operation Last Resort.
At face value, this is American-on-American terrorism.
But its message is not beyond a reasonable person.
So where do we stand? This is a discussion that needs to take place considering the government’s continued silence after Aaron Swartz’s suicide. Anonymous’s presence has moved the chains on the issue, but it also leaves something foul in the air.
This is an issue in which our generation takes precedence. The participation and understanding from people ages 18-25 is more important than ever.
I, for one, will step forward and agree. Kudos, Anonymous. You’ve made me both uncomfortable and happy.
Americans don’t like to have our security compromised. Anonymous is simply showing the government how we feel.
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