Over the past few years, the radical online community known as Anonymous has been associated with attacks or “raids” on hundreds of targets.
Angered by issues as diverse as copyright abuse and police brutality, they have taken on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and even forced a stand-off with Mexican drug cartels. They have hit corporate targets like Sony, cyber-security firms like HB Gary Federal and would-be web controllers like the Church of Scientology.
They shut down Mastercard, Visa and Paypal after those groups froze financial transactions to Wikileaks. Along with other hacktivist groups like Telecomix, they’ve launched cyber attacks against foreign governments in support of the Arab Spring.
They served as tech support for the Occupy movement and have put their mark on countless uprisings around the world. One participant described their protests as “ultra coordinated motherfuckery.”
So who is Anonymous?
The group has been called criminals, “hackers on steroids” and even terrorists. But the vast majority of those who identify as Anonymous don’t break the law.
They see themselves as activists and protectors of free speech, and tend to rise up most powerfully when they perceive a threat to internet freedom or personal privacy. Whether you are a mother or a member of Congress, you live in an electronic landscape that has exploded with largely unchecked intrusion and surveillance.
You are tracked by government databases while corporate advertisers are looking to buy your personal data for pennies. In this landscape, the existence of the collective internet culture called Anonymous makes the case for anonymity.