I recently watched a very entertaining documentary that highlighted some of the antics of the well-known hacker group, Anonymous.
Admittedly, before I viewed it, I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of knowledge about the group. I, probably like most of you, assumed that Anonymous was a small group of hooded kids in their parents’ basements who just so happened to be super-smart and maintain a high moral code.
How wrong I was.
Anonymous, I’ve learned, is a network of millions. Its comprised of real, everyday people who see the world we live in and want to make a difference. A positive difference.
You see, “hackers” have historically been given a bad rap. Throughout the evolution of the internet, the establishment has labeled them cultural dissidents who steal, cheat, lie, and deceive to cause chaos and promote anarchy. Reality, on the other hand, paints a very different picture. Sure, there are individuals out there that use their technical skills to exploit and take advantage of people, but they are the exception. Anonymous, you’ll learn, stands for the “people”. They have no organized structure. They have no “leaders”. What they have, however, is a networked collective with shared goals and similar values. They call out bigotry when they see it. They bow to no set of rules or regulations other than the unspoken laws of the internet. Which ultimately dictate that if you intend to take advantage of people or act immorally, plan to be put on blast.
A perfect example is their battle with Scientology, which the documentary covers in detail. The tiff was basically ignited by the hacker group’s philosophy that information and technology should be free and open. Scientology, on the contrary, has a well-known history of control and intimidation. So it started as a small joke where Anonymous poked fun at the group – sparking the infamous Tom Cruise spoof videos that you have likely seen before. Then Scientology hit back with a slew of legal maneuvers and tactics. Ultimately what started as a small poke in the ribs turned into a massive battle of ideologies. If you want to read into the details of the hilarity of this clash, a simple Google search will tell you all you need to know. Needless to say, Anonymous seems to have the upper hand.
The internet is a wonderful place. After all, without it you wouldn’t be able to read this. It let’s us communicate, share, promote, debate, etc. But just like the real world, sometimes we need a third-party authority to help make things just and fair. Anonymous, it seems, is filling those shoes. This group of mysterious keyboard warriors has risen to the ranks of internet police, and I for one intend to obey the law.
Which, as it seems, is pretty simple: don’t be a jerk and have a sense of humor. Not so hard, wouldn’t you agree?