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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Turning point

I'm really having a tough time deciding what today's topic is going to be about.
My quest for a new job goes on. I'm reading a book and trying to learn a new skill. I'm also reading a book for pleasure, because that's the way my mind works, by balancing things.
The study related book is about learning Joombla. What is that besides a word to make spellcheck go all red squiggily on us? It's a way to write web pages. The pleasure reading is Feast of Crows by George RR Martin. It's set slightly ahead of where the series Game of Thrones is currently and I'm okay with that.
It's not that I couldn't decide what to write, but a subject that I find interesting.
There is a group of Computer users that call themselves Anonymous. They are computer literate activists, or in their vernacular, hacktivists.
In the most general sense, they oppose internet control and they target large corporations, governments and organisations. Personally, I first heard of Anonymous when they launched a denial of service attack on the Church of Scientology. While I condone the use of illegal tactics as a means to an end, those mad 'christian' scientists had it coming. The hacktivists and Scientologists went back and forth in 2008. Improving security on their websites and Anonymous using multiple harassment tactics. My personal favorite is sending black faxes in order to make the church waste ink.
Since 2008 Anonymous took on the MPAA and the RIAA, the motion picture association and the recording industry association in response to the actions taken against content sharing sites such as Pirate Bay.
In recent years, 2011 to the present, Anonymous has taken roles in the Arab Spring, confronted the Westboro Baptist Church, and embarrassed Bank of America and the computer security firm HBGary Federal, which led to their CEO, Aaron Barr, to resign under calls for a congressional investigation. They also publicly supported and help coordinate the Occupy Wall street movements.
What crossed my desk earlier this afternoon is this. Looks like Anonymous is going to take on Wal-Mart. So far there has been nothing illegal being done, but more of a public shaming. All publicly available information on the CEO's and their families has been compiled and posted in a couple of high visibility areas.
Highlighting the disparity between the workforce and their corporate CEOs.
Addresses. Phone numbers. Arrest records. This is called Doxxing. People may find this disconcerting and even uncomfortable. Welcome to the information age.
While I agree with a lot of things Anonymous does, there are a few things they did that were counter productive. Case in point: they went after a few child pornography sites. Even after hacking and posting the user lists and credit cards. Authorities can't go after the perverts because the evidence was gathered illegally.
If you want to see what went right and wrong with these episodes of cyber vigilantism, look no further than the Steubenville rape case, brought to world attention through the actions of Anonymous.
Lastly, Anonymous released a proposed update of the U.S. Constitution. No, seriously. It's worth a read.
Weather or not you choose to take this assorted group of web activists seriously or not, this is the face of the world in the 21st century. The internet is a great equalizer. I for one approve of the direction Anonymous is going.

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