In a previous post, I discussed how Anonymous hacked into HBGary Federal and exposed plans to use false documents and sock puppetry to discredit Wikileaks and US labor unions. The US Congress has begun a formal investigation into the relationship between the Department of Defense and the companies HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies. (Article by Wired; by Forbes.)
Of perhaps more significance to the social history of computing, Anonymous has started a recruitment campaign, Operation New Blood (#opnewblood), based on their success in taking down professional security firms, and exposing the plans against Wikileaks and unions. There is quite a bit of motion around this, including, for example, a well-produced recruitment video that is labeled as a class project. The video is almost seven minutes long; I will quote a couple excerpts.
With a company in shambles, a CEO’s life derailed, and a dark secret uncovered, Anonymous is beginning to look less like a hacker group. It begins to look like your best interest, as well as mine…. Since the conception of Anonymous, they have been responsible for various operations around the world, from bringing Internet service to the Egyptian people during their recent revolution, to opposing massive government agencies and corporations.
To be clear, I’m not a member of Anonymous, nor do I intend to become one, if for no other reason than my belief that structure and government are actually necessary, and I don’t see a future in anarchic movements. However, I think this situation is a big deal, because I expect the recruitment push to find significant traction among people with computer skills who feel disaffected by society — and that group of disaffected computer folk is growing, as computer science becomes deprofessionalized. I also believe — though I have no hard evidence for this — that the age and economic standing of the “average active Anon” is already on the rise, because over the last several years, their activities seem to have moved from juvenile baiting to occasional “freedom fighting” to this current position of an Emma Goldmanesque anarchic class warfare.
I predict a marked increase in politically and economically motivated hacktivism over the next five years, and a concomitant governmental backlash of aggressive new laws and enforcement on the use of computers and the posting and transfer of data.