Off With the Law
Rising Against: Creating social change by breaking common laws
By: Chantelle (Tilly) Wark, Staff Writer
History is filled with the strength and might of the human race. Often, history has been made with people trying to better society, whether it was through a political movement or the need for knowledge. Other times, history is made up of those fighting against the system—at times, breaking the law—in the cause of what they think is right. Today is no different.
That’s why the Arbitrage has decided to profile some of the latest developments within three causes that are near and dear to our hearts. Regardless of your view on their positions, the following groups and people have risen, showing what the will of man and womankind is made of.
Be wary, Big Brother is watching you
Who is Anonymous?
When a person used to hear the name Anonymous, a sense of unknown is what would have come to mind. Such is not the case any longer. Now, when the name Anonymous is heard, an image of an unnamed collective behind Guy Fawkes masks is what’s seen.
Anonymous is an organization of approximately 50,000 members world-wide that has been in operation since 2003. There are those who praise Anonymous, viewing the collective as freedom fighters of the internet, or thinking of the group as a digital Robin Hood, robbing various governments and organizations of information. Just as many people perceive the members behind the masks as cyber terrorists.
However, no matter how the collective is perceived, Anonymous continue to believe that they are hacking for the greater good, strong in their beliefs for freedom of information. As well, the organization makes their views on this belief quite clear: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
Sabu and Commander X
In the everyday world, a 28-year-old man was known simply as Hector Xavier Monsegur. However, in the land of binary, Hector Monsegur was Sabu, an Anonymous hacker who surrendered his online identity to the FBI after being presented with a string of charges on June 7, 2011 that could total 124 years behind bars.
Faced with these charges, Sabu pled guilty before becoming a part of an FBI blackhat hacking group within Anonymous. With the go-ahead from the FBI, Sabu assisted Anonymous deface government websites and corporate websites. He also played a crucial role in hacking Stratfor, a private, global intelligence firm.
With Sabu’s assistance, multiple arrests had been made, and the cocky confidence within Anonymous had quickly become sombre. Though Anonymous claimed to have no real leader, depriving them of Sabu meant taking away a crucial hacker who couldn’t be easily replaced.
Christopher Doyan, a resident of Santa Cruz, California, hacked the county website for a thirty-minute virtual sit-in under his Anonymous name Commander X, in protest to a homeless encampment being removed from the courthouse steps in September 2011. In the States, Commander X would be served with 15 years in prison for his sit-in, a minor assault on his hacking resume.
Commander X, in a May 2012 interview with a National Post reporter, stood by his belief that Anonymous isn’t a cyber-terrorist organization, and that what the organization does is for the greater good. In his interview, Commander X stated, “we’re fighting for the people, we are fighting, as Occupy likes to say, for the 99%.” He also feels no guilt regarding the high-profile hacks he’s been a part of, from Syrian President Assad’s email database to Stratcor, claiming that, “every email database, every single one has had crimes in it,” never deeming any of the people at the victim end of the hacks are innocent.
Not wanting to face his prison term, Commander X fled to Canada to avoid prosecution. If he were still in the United States, he realizes that the virtual sit-in charges would be the least of his worries as he’d be presented with a whole other slew of hacking-related felonies. For the duration of the trial, which would last a few years, he wouldn’t be able to access his Facebook, Twitter, or most important, other members of Anonymous.
[pullquote]The power has shifted and control has been traded. Be wary, Big Brother, Anonymous is watching you.[/pullquote]
A New Big Brother?
Anyone who’s familiar with George Orwell is familiar with the daunting phrase, “Big Brother is watching you,” an uncomfortable thought as we’re now in an era of mass surveillance and over-controlling authority figures. Big Brother has often been synonymous with the government, but since the formation of Anonymous, this may very well change.
If the claims of Commander X are true, Anonymous has managed to acquire access to every classified database that exists in the United States. Commander X has also stated that, “it’s a matter of when we leak the contents of those databases, not if.” With these confident statements, it appears that the American government at the very least has lost control, along with the Parliaments of many other nations, and that Anonymous is the new power to be reckoned with.
The power has shifted and control has been traded. Be wary, Big Brother, Anonymous is watching you.
A Few Hacks Worth Noting
Westboro Baptist Church: In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest the funerals of the victims, as they believed it was God executing his judgement. Anonymous retaliated by hacking the WBC database, and releasing the congregation’s personal information, such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Chinese Government: Upon breaking into hundreds of websites within the Chinese Government, the “Great Firewall of China” was downed, and replaced with tips on bypassing government censorship.
The United Nations: The UN’s official website was hacked with accusations that the United Nations ignored hunger strikers in Palestine for protesting detention without trial in Israel.
Greek Ministry of Finance: Greece’s Ministry of Finance website was breached, with Anonymous leaking documents that would be embarrassing to the government. This included poorly-chosen passwords, and a JPY 900 million interest payment to be paid back to the Deutches Bank in Tokyo and London.