Despite recent crackdowns against "hacktivists," groups like Anonymous and LulzSec risk jail time as they lash out against government and corporate corruption.
In a controversial move, LulzSec recently released private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement. According to Censored News the released information revealed that the Arizona Law Enforcement was aware of the hunting and murder of migrants by US Marines along the Arizona border. The agencies tacit blind eye allowed the murders to continue without police involvement.
LulzSec said they will continue the attack "in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust 'war on drugs.'"
Anonymous also has a history of "hacktivist" civil disobedience. In December they began "Operation Payback," attacking Visa and Master Card in a retaliation move in defense of Wikileaks. Visa and Master Card had begun blocking payments to WikiLeaks in an attempt to cripple the site. Just this past week, Anonymous pulled down various websites belonging to the city of Orlando, Florida, in a move to protest the arrests of members of Food Not Bombs, who were arrested after distributing food to the homeless in a city park.
Government authorities haven't been sitting idly by. The arrest last week of LulzSec member Ryan Cleary, a 19 year old out of Essex, England, wasn't the first arrest made of group members. Shortly after "Operation Payback," Dutch authorities arrested two Dutch teenagers, 19-year-old Martijn Gonlag, and another 16-year-old, who allegedly confessed. Back on January 27, the FBI announced they were conducting raids, producing over 40 search warrants across the US. On June 10th, three alleged group members of Anonymous were arrested in various cities of Spain for their efforts in attacking government websites in Egypt, Algeria, Libia, Iran, Chile, Colombia, and New Zealand; notably all countries that have enforced some form of internet censorship.
But as government crack downs increase, hacktivist groups seem only to be more emboldened. This week, Anonymous and LulzSec came together to declare "war" on governments and banks everywhere, stating in a manifesto, “Whether you're sailing with us or against us, whether you hold past grudges or a burning desire to sink our lone ship, we invite you to join the rebellion. Together we can defend ourselves so that our privacy is not overrun by profiteering gluttons. Your hat can be white, gray or black, your skin and race are not important. If you're aware of the corruption, expose it now, in the name of Anti-Security.”
Despite disdain from the media, the move towards First Amendment ideals may be the catalyst that brings hacktivist groups out of obscurity and into household recognition. Their motto to end corruption, increase government transparency, and institute freedom of information may become the civil rights movement of the information age.
Image: "Computer Spazz" by Thomas Brownell on Flickr.Tweet