Anonymous, the loosely connected hacktivist group infamous for last year’s “Operation Payback” that forced Visa and MasterCard offline for a time, has recently set its sights on Sony.
Before it all kicked off I heard a few low rumblings on Twitter, and checked the Anonymous homepage, where I found the following (abridged) statement:
“You [Sony] have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information on how your products work. You have victimised your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target every person who seeks this information. In doing so you have violated the privacy of thousands.”
It concluded chillingly: “Now you will experience the wrath of Anonymous.”
I say concluded, actually there is a sentence after that referring to Sony executives’ private parts, which you can research for yourselves, should you be so inclined.
The beef arose when Sony brought legal proceedings against two hackers, George Hotz and Graf Chokolo, after they released code required to develop firmware for Sony’s PlayStation 3 console.
Last year’s Operation Payback campaign was founded, at least apparently, on high moral principles such as free speech and open government.
Part of its motivation was to defend Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange. Firms deemed to be hostile to the whistleblowing web site were subjected to sustained attacks.
For a while, Anonymous was winning. PayPal, having frozen funds owed to Wikileaks, agreed to release them.
Part of me admired Anonymous. It stood up for its beliefs, and used the tools at its disposal to make its point.
But this latest campaign, which Anonymous calls “#Opsony”, has lost me. The group is outraged because Sony is defending its intellectual property. Where once I saw free-speech campaigners championing the little guy against heavy-handed governments, I now see power-mad kids who have found a pointy stick.
Anonymous’s web site even proclaims the group the “Lords of the Internet”. It seems more Lord of the Flies to me.
I called Sony just before its sites started going down, and no one knew anything about it. I imagine they found out pretty quickly, after the PlayStation Network went down, shortly followed by its European support site and others.
It may not be related, but Sony’s shares are down 1.4 per cent on the NYSE at the time of writing.
Anonymous chose V, the hero of the graphic novel series V for Vendetta as its figurehead. In the novels, V stands alone against a totalitarian government. I’m not convinced he would approve.
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