Tuesday 27 October 2015
On the 6th of March 2012 I got a knock on my door, when I looked out the window I saw a distressed activist friend of mine known as joepie91 walking back and forth. When I opened the door I was confronted with the news that almost everyone I had been working with for the past year had been arrested. He showed me a FOX news article stating that Sabu was responsible for the arrests as he had been working as an informant for the FBI. I had no idea how much damage had been done at this point.
Knowing that the #antisec crew liked to brag about their hacking activities, I immediately DoD wiped my computers to prevent having any information in case I got questioned. I only made videos after the hacks were released, so I had nothing to worry about regarding my own safety, but there might have been accidental logs on my PC. (Better safe than sorry)
The response from the Anonymous community was shocking when I logged back on. Left and right people were being accused of snitching (including myself) and everything ever said by Anonymous activists was being taken out of context. This is exactly what the FBI wanted. There was a true which hunt being held against Sabu as well. And while I strongly disagreed with what he did and the damage he caused, the movement itself was to blame for the decline that followed.
The distrust within the movement worked like a cancer, and as I announced the upcoming #FuckFBIFriday as I did every week, I was surprised that nothing got leaked that day. It turned out the remaining #antisec members ran for the hills, and everyone else was too scared to carry on. (And understandably so)
Before the arrests occurred, Anonymous wasn’t what it was originally intended to be. Everyone used pseudonyms by which they could be recognized. These handles used specific language, were active during specific timezones and had their specific preferences in what they enjoyed, they were identifiable if you met them offline. sup_g (aka Jeremy Hammond) was even handing out proof of his hacking days in LulzSec at Occupy Chicago.
There was a lack of understanding anonymity as they would think a VPN would suffice to hide their identities. The FBI knew this was the case, and that the members would be arrested anyway. It was a bonus that they could use a trusted #antisec member to cause distrust within the movement.
If you are truly Anonymous, an informant should never matter as even he wouldn’t be able to identify an anon. This means using different usernames every time, using different language patterns, hiding your timezone by being online at random times, use heavy encryption and never trusting anyone to provide you with a server to put the information on you obtained.
The public pseudonyms like YourAnonNews, AnonyOps, etc. should only be used to spread the information obtained by these Anonymous individuals to journalists with tools like onionshare and securedrop.
The Anonymous movement became egotistical in its nature by publicly announcing their targets to get more followers, retweets, views and likes. They forgot that the goal here was to put the government into check by releasing incriminating information like Snowden did, they forgot goals like exposing corporations that violated free speech, the politics turned into who had the best skills and who could hack the most high-profile targets disregarding of the information obtained by the hack.
They forgot we needed to provide whistleblowers with the tools to leak their information in an anonymous way. These whistleblowers and hackers turned to WikiLeaks instead resulting in the massive leaks you’ve seen recently. The Anonymous collective was turned into infighting fame seekers with a complete disregard to its initial goals.
I have faith that Anonymous can get out of this slump if we start putting some effort into it.