Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:31

Could Anonymous Actually Be Doing Some Good?

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anonThe online activist collective known as Anonymous has undergone a lot of changes in the years that is has been around. We have followed them and covered some of their highlights (and some of their blunder). They provide an interesting commentary on society and the internet. In a time when it has been commented that the media controls the information and governments are abusing their power, they almost act like a policing body. This is not to say that the activities of their members are always honest and forthright, in fact there are times when members of the collective do things that are appalling. However, we are seeing them bring some corporate and governmental practices into the open.

One of the lasted victims of Anonymous’ attentions was the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). On Friday morning members belonging to the collective brought down a few sites that are operated by the FTC. These were not servers in a government data center, but ones that were hosted in an offsite data center by a company named Media Temple in California (and were set up by a PR firm for the FTC). The attack apparently yielded some interesting results as the pastebin post states;

“We are s(h)itting on hundreds of rooted servers getting ready to drop all your mysql dumps, child pr0n and mail spools (to be honest, fucking too much for us to read on our own, so we swap with all criminal underground allies for sex and 0days). Oh wait, what’s that? Your passwords? Addresses? Your precious bank accounts? Even your online dating details?! (yep, We know you're cheating on your…well, we won’t get into that here. Yet.) “

Now all of this could be just boasting (and also to add some intrigue for the press), but it could also be very true. Having worked for a large company I was often shocked by what I found on user systems (and sometimes stored on company servers!). It is very possible that there are items that could get people at the FTC, Media Temple and their PR firm into trouble.

The attack was in response to ACTA, the FTC refusing to do anything about Google’s new user data combining policies and the FTC’s lack of action over violations of the Do Not Call list. One line in the statement from AntiSec says “Hey FTC! Y u no ask Google to delay the privacy-violating changes to its terms of service? Y u let Google combine user data without user consent? Y u collect 80 million Do Not Call List complaints online from bothered citizens, but u only took action 83 times? Y u suck?”

The interesting thing about the Do Not Call issue is that there was an announcement of an update to the Do No Call regulations on the 15th (two days before the hack). These new rules will force companies to put an opt-out option in their automated calling systems and to also require consent by consumers before they call in the first place. Of course by that time we are pretty sure it was too little too late.

We have a feeling that the actions of Anonymous will not sway the FTC to do anything about Google, or ACTA or even the Do Not Call list, but depending on the reaction of Anonymous when everything is said and done (and the 31st of March rolls around) they would become something of a corporate/government conscious. If you do something to raise Anonymous’ ire… you could be doing it wrong. We are pretty sure that big business and most governments long for the day when Anonymous was random and annoying, more than a collective with a goal and a momentum behind it. After all there is an old saying; “If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy.”  

We fully expect to see additional attacks from Anonymous in the near future. These will have an impact on corporate services and the infrastructure of the Internet. They will also inspire the US Government (at the urging of their backers) to try to pass more invasive laws. These will end up being paid for by the average consumer. Still, I think I would rather have these companies understand that they cannot attempt to by-pass the laws we have and remove the blending of cultures that comes with freedom of speech and expression on the Internet.

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Read 6117 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:52

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