Source: (Egan, 2016)
Where there are humans, there will be politics! I have decided to give my opinion on Anonymous. Specifically, whether the Anonymous hacktivist collective is global democracy in action or plain old cyber-terrorism?
“Cyberpolitics is the politics of the internet that exists predominantly on the internet” (Egan, 2016).
“And to me that was beautiful because it recognizes, again, that their ideological commitment wasn’t perfectly fulfilled, as it can’t be, and yet it wasn’t some utter failure in that there was some secret back room where everything was controlled” (Pangburn, 2011). Like Gabriella Coleman, I also think that Anonymous is flawed but I do not see them as failures. Anonymous’ involvement in cyberpolitics is refreshing as they stand up for the weak. The organisation is a modern day watchdog for the voiceless and a force that should exist in 2016. It is an ideology that truly needs to be around to protect the masses involved in cyberspace.
I will start off by outlining some important definitions.
Cyber-terrorism: “terrorist activities intended to damage or disrupt vital computer systems” (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cyberterrorism)
Global Democracy: “Global democracy is a field of academic study and political activism concerned with making the global political system more democratic” (Source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/global-democracy/)
Hacktivist: “a person who hacks a computer system to bring attention to a political or social cause” (Egan, 2016).
Anonymous, the hacker collective dating back to 2004 (Politicalviolenceataglance.org, 2015) is a modern day ‘Robin Hood’ (Egan, 2016). Rather than an organisation, Anonymous has been described in terms of a subculture or series of relationships (The New Yorker, 2014) between people of differing religious upbringings, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnic affiliations (Politicalviolenceataglance.org, 2015). They are difficult to describe, there is no membership, no fixed charter, nor are they even a movement. They are simply a collective which for periods of time may all share the same goals and objectives and other times may fall into disagreement.
Anonymous has taken action against a number of targets, namely: al-Qaeda, ISIS, The Church of Scientology, the KKK.
While some attacks are unwelcome, there appears to be tacit acceptance of Anonymous’ attacks on militant Islamist groups which has alleviated the United States NSA fears of Anonymous attacks on home soil. Anonymous attacks targets without jurisdiction or UN resolutions and while the targets are chosen arbitrarily, Anonymous is self-regulating, libertarian, and is a force for good; a form of global democracy with no physical limitations.
Egan, Elizabeth 2016, ‘Week 6 Lecture ‘Cyber Politics’, Griffith University, Brisbane, Semester 2, 2016.
Pangburn, D, 2011, Digital Activism From Anonymous to Occupy Wall Street: a Conversation With Gabriella Coleman, online, Deathandtaxesmag.com. Available at: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/157192/digital-activism-from-anonymous-to-occupy-wall-street-a-conversation-with-gabriella-coleman/ [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016]
Politicalviolenceataglance.org, 2015, Virtual Vigilantes: “Anonymous” Cyber-Attacks Against the Islamic State. [online] Available at: https://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2015/04/07/virtual-vigilantes-anonymous-cyber-attacks-against-the-islamic-state/ [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016]
The New Yorker, 2014, The Masked Avengers – The New Yorker. [online] Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/08/masked-avengers [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016]