We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012) Movie Script

It was 6 in the morning.
I got a knock on my door,
a really loud knock
and I thought it was my dad,
who had locked himself out or something,
so I opened it and it's the LED
flashlights and the really obnoxious,
bulletproof vests
and they're dragging
me out into the cold,
when I'm in my pyjamas.
That was not fun..
They seemed pretty shocked by the
sarcastic, belligerent, angry teenager,
that they dragged
out of bed that day.
I don't know if it's just that
I was 19 or that I was a girl but,
they didn't expect, this.
whoever they are,
they scared the shit out
of some people those days.
They scared the shit,
out of the powers that be
and that's why this
is being investigated.
That's why I'm under indictment.
That's it.
between the days of
December 6 and December 10,
proved to the government,
that their regulations,
their ideas,
their view of PayPal,
their view of WikiLeaks,
their view of the Afghan war,
and Egypt and Tunisia and Libya,
it didn't fucking matter.
Their opinion no longer mattered,
because someone was out on the internet,
kicking ass.
The computer hacker group Anonymous,
is claiming tonight, that it took down
the website of the federal appeals
court in San Francisco this afternoon.
They took down senate.gov servers,
they've taken down HBGary,
SONY is claiming they did
So many confidential files,
that tonight, because of these hackers,
can be in the hands of anyone.
Visa, Mastercard, the PayPal situation.
-The criminals who hacked into Sarah Palin's private e-mail.
The church of scientology says,
Anonymous is a cyber-terrorist
group of religious bigots.
Anonymous and this other group called LulzSec,
they seem to be wanting to prove a point.
Anonymous was like the big, strong,
buff kid who had low self esteem
and all of a sudden,
punched somebody in the face and
was like, Holy shit I'm really strong!
And Anonymous calls itself
the final boss of the internet
and sometimes it proves
to be really fucking true.
If you were going to violate
the freedoms of the internet,
you certainly better watch the fuck out.
They are, kind of, the
rude boys of activism.
There's a real rough edge to that,
which I think also,
is one reason why they
garner so much love
and hate from people too.
They represent a certain
sort of chaotic freedom.
Individual, young,
nameless, faceless folks are having
geo-political impact
and it's both exhilarating to realize
that and terrifying to realize that.
It kind of depends on
how that power is wielded.
We are legion.
We do not forget.
Expect us.
We stand for freedom,
we stand for freedom of speech,
the power of the people,
the ability for them to protest
against their government, to right wrongs.
No sensorship, epecially online,
but also in real life.
We have members throughout society
in all stratums of it worldwide,
yet we have no leadership.
It's one voice, it's not individual voices, that's why
we don't show our faces, that's why we don't give our names.
We're speaking as one and it's a collective.
Good timing..
I would love to live in a country
where the government fears its citizens
and not the other way around.
Right now, plenty of Anonymous actors
are in hiding because of fear of reprisals by the government.
I've been called many things,
there's unpatriotic..
..that we're just a bunch of children
sitting in our parents' basement.
I get called a terrorist sympathizer.
We've been called kids, we've been called
cyber-bullies, we've been called hooligans and..
You know, sometimes these
words aren't entirely unfair but,
this is a serious political movement.
No one in the general public
really seems to get it.
What they don't seem to get, is that the ability for
Anonymous to be everything and anything, is its power.
Anonymous is a series of relationships.
Hundreds and hundreds of people,
who are very active in it and who have varying skill
sets and who have varying issues they want to advance
and who are collaborating
in different ways each day.
They're a little bit like
a prism or a calaidoscope.
They've got many different
facets in many different sides.
Of course when you spend
enough time with them,
you start to get a sort of feel or texture,
that's not just random,
right? Yet it's very multifaceted,
very rich, which does span from the quite
lighthearted to the very very serious.
Bob Dylan had lined a song to say,
"to live outside the law,
you must be honest".
(Absolutely Sweet Marie)
They might do something which isn't
technically correct, maybe it's not
legally correct, but they're doing it for purposes,
that in their minds at least are ethical.
People who know what they're doing,
who share an ethos,
who have a commitment to
exposing and humiliating "the man",
who have a very low tolerance of some
eyes and what they perceive as evil
and the part of over-winning power structures.
They share information,
they share tools and techniques
and they are currently
having a very good time.
The hacker culture,
as we know it,
really sprang from one place. There was MI (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
and there was specifically people in the model
railroad club, the tech model railroad club.
Hacking originated as humorous pranks.
When the guys in MIT put a VolksWagen
up on top of the dome of the building,
people woke up and saw a
car up there in the morning,
or they measured a bridge by the body-lengths
of somebody, let's say his name was Brian
and they discovered the bridge
over the Charles river was,
you know, 822 Brians.
These are funny things.
That's where hacking originated
and then migrated in
engineering and computer communities.
It's, really, it's pranks.
Basically Microsoft
and Apple, both,
got their entire start of computer crime.
Bill Gates stole
pretty much all of the MS-DOS.
Steve Jobs,
he was creating boxes to
defraud the phone company.
I always saw hacking,
as implicitly political.
Hackers, whether they're
conscious about it or not,
whether explicit about it or not,
make a statement,
about how we should treat information.
And some years after my book came out,
one of the people I wrote about,
Richard Stallman,
got very publically
and explicitly political
about open software, about..
And he believed that software should be free.
Free as in freedom, not free
as in beer, as he put it there.
Behind it, whether misguided or
not, there is a political impulse.
Hactivism was a term coined by a
group called Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc).
The Lopht had an interesting
relationship with the cDc.
Actually there was 3 members,
that were in both organizations.
And we kind of capped like,
the serious security research,
that they were doing, they
would do under the Lopht name
and if they're doing some sort
of just goofy stunt-like things,
they would do it under the cDc name,
because the cDc was really kind of a,
sort of, like a propaganda
type of organization.
They had a guy who was
the minister of propaganda,
they were kinda merry pranksters
like, everything they did,
was completely over the top you know,
they would dress up like Mr-T sometimes,
they would do rap songs at
DEFCON, like a rap performance.
One of the guys there, I think his name is
t-fish, or short for tweety fish, coined the term
hactivism, because he saw what,
one of the things, his group was
doing, which he called hactivism
was writing software that people in other
countries could use to communicate securely,
even if their government
was spying on them.
So what the principal was really,
was freedom of expression.
It was everyone should
have access to the internet,
everyone should be able to communicate and
get their message out on the internet.
Even more important in countries,
where there was repressive regimes,
that if you said something against the regime,
they would come and take you away
and you weren't saying anything anymore.
A good place to start are with,
what is often been called virtual sit-ins,
which use the tactic of
a denial of service attack.
Denial of service has been
around for a long long time.
The equilevant of, like
if you, for some reason,
wanted to disrupt a bus service, right?
You can hire a thousand extras to all
go and like, line up at the bus station
and get on the bus,
until that anyone who was
really trying to get on
the bus, couldn't do it.
It's as simple as that.
When you stop trying to visit, the
website goes back up, no permanent damage.
And this tactic has been used
by a number of different groups.
Probably the most famous is the
Electronic Disturbance Theatre.
Another really interesting case happened
in Germany, where a group
of activists got together,
who wanted to protest the
fact that the airline, Lufthansa,
was using, they were using their
planes to deport immigrants
and they would take down the site
and in fact eventually
the German courts ruled,
that this was a legitimate form of protest.
From airports security
to subway bag checks,
there's no question,
it's a new world post 9/11.
It's worse now,
for humans, post 9/11,
because intrusion and surveillance,
which is always going to be misused
by those who can misuse it,
has created a different kind of society,
in which freedom, the freedom
to move unobserved, is a privilege
only of the rich, privacy is a
privilege only of the rich.
Hackers see the technology giving them sanction
to buy their privileged exclusion as well.
Intrinsic to the technology,
is the power to self transcend
and get out of the
hump of the Bell Curve
and move forward on par with the masters
of society and do battle with them
on an equal, level, playing field.
That's hactivism.
Anonymous grew out of,
what's known as, 4chan.
Essentially this is just
a website, where people can upload images
and you don't actually give your name,
it's just sort of anonymous.
When you look at 4chan,
you're often surprised,
because it looks like a site
from, like, 1995 or something.
The idea is very simple:
You post a comment and you post a picture
and you can post it under
your name, or anonymously
and it's seperated into
boards about particular topics.
There's a topic on anime,
there's a topic on weaponry.
There's like a 4chan board for origami.
You just upload interesting pictures of origami.
And then there was a group
called /b/. The /b/ board,
which essentially was
for like, anything goes.
The first time anybody goes on /b/,
it's kind of an instant.. revulsion,
'cause there's never a time that you go in
there where you don't see something horrible.
That instantly puts off a lot of people.
The idea is, post something
that can never be unseen.
Half of the posts on /b/ are there specifically
to make peope not wanna come back to /b/.
Have you ever read Lord of the flies?
is Lord of the Flies,
except some of them aren't 16 anymore,
they're just allowed to act 16.
It's what you get when people are allowed
to express themselves with absolutely
no restrictions whatsoever.
It's the kind of sum of human imagination
when people can get together and paint together
without any limits or parameters.
It's the most vile, disgusting
and funny thing on the internet.
when he was very young, maybe 15,
in the early 2000's.
He started 4chan because he was
a big fan of Japanese animation.
Chris "Moot" Poole is the sweetest
kid you've ever met in your life.
He's small and he's got these tiny features
and he runs the most disgusting
website in the world.
What I think is really intriguing
about a community like 4chan,
is just that it's this open place,
as I said it's raw, it's unfiltered,
and.. sites like it are going
the way of the dinosaur right now.
They're endangered, because we're
moving towards social networking,
we're moving towards persistent identity,
we're moving towards, you know,
a lack of privacy really.
The /b/ board, it's the
exact opposite of facebook.
In facebook, you're supposed to be who you are
and there's, sort of, one model,
which is that you're friends with people. Right?
In 4chan, you're totally an anonymous nobody.
And anonymous speech, a lot of it
is ugly, but not all of it, is (ugly).
It's actually a sort of place,
where people can be honest.
One of the important things about 4chan,
is to have a thread that really explodes
and lasts for a long time.
If it doesn't,
then it disappears, it's
a site that's not archived,
so, it creates conditions for
anything that grabs attention, at some level
and so humor and grotesqueness,
as a result, are quite good for that.
I'd rather just be referred to as anonymous I guess
in the interviews, cause I have some dox out on me.
I grew up on it and I lived there.
That's what I did for fun.
It takes a thick skin to enjoy it but you know,
as long as you're not offended, you'll occasionally
come into something really cool
or really creative on 4chan.
I think the most interesting thing about
it, is how you can watch memes evolve.
You'll see something posted one day,
that a week later, has got
A meme is, basically just an idea.
It's kind of like a gene,
but in the realm of the idea.
A lot of the great internet memes that we
all know and love, you know lolcats, right?
You know, little cats doing funny things
and then you have "I can has cheezburger?"
All that stuff seems to start in this
Petri dish, that is 4chan's /b/ board.
"Say it publically and you're insane,
chocolate rain".
Name any meme from the last
about 6 years and I'll bet you,
either it's first posting
ever, was on 4chan or
at least one of it's earliest revisions
that became what it was, was on 4chan.
"I can see the food situation
is fucked, so we'll be on our way".
It's basically the best
breeding ground for
internet culture,
as far as I'm concerned.
"Read your neighborhood insurance rates,
chocolate rain".
for acts of trolling.
Trolling is a fucking art.
Trolling is getting the person you are talking to
to get a pissed off as they possibly can
and for no reason except your own enjoyment.
Maybe you are trying to illustrate a point,
but it's mostly for your own enjoyment.
For them it's funny, that the people
think the internet is serious business
and if people think the internet is serious business,
it's a troll's job, to make their life terror.
The idea of Anonymous,
came initially as a joke.
I mean, somebody suggested that,
what if the whole site,
what if 4chan, what if /b/,
was just one person and what if
that just one guy, called "Anonymous"
sitting somewhere and you're just
reading all these posts by one guy.
And it kinda looks like that from
the outsiders perspective, I mean,
there's no way to tell a difference,
it might as well be one guy.
Fox news did very famous segments about it.
They call themselves "Anonymous".
They are hackers on steroids,
treating the web, like
a real life video game,
sacking websites,
invading myspace accounts,
disrupting innocent people's lives
and if you fight back, watch out!
Destroy, die, attack,
threats from a gang of computer hackers,
calling themselves "Anonymous".
I've had 7 different passwords
and they've got them all so far.
Anonymous hacked his site and
blastered it with gay sex pictures.
His girlfriend left him.
She thought that, I was
cheating on her with guys.
As long as I can think back,
Anonymous has done some pretty off-color
things in the name of getting cheap laughs,
you know, but,
I mean that's part of the culture.
We get what we call "Lulz".
"Lulz" is a corruption of lol which
stands for " laugh out loud".
Anonymous gets big lulz,
from pulling random pranks
for example, messing with online
children's games, like Habbo Hotel.
Habbo Hotel was this online community,
where you had an avatar and you
walked around and talked to other people.
It's kind of, like, an early
version of World of Warcraft,
or Second Life or any
of those virtual worlds.
What the people on /b/ did,
was invade Habbo Hotel,
created thousands of avatars,
they all had this one uniform of a
black guy with a big afro,
wearing a black suit
and so there would be
thousands of these people,
black guys-black suit,
you know, huge afro,
walking around this world
and they would do things like,
form a swastika out of themselves
and i think that was
a real landmark, because
it was when they were able to see that,
they can use their numbers to do something
really interesting and really disruptive.
SO we blocked the entrance to their pool
and that just pissed them off so fucking much.
It was fucking beautiful!
That was fucking just wonderful.
Wonderful times!
Those kids loved that pool,
they loved the shit out of their pool..
The goal was actually to offend everyone,
simply because the idea that we could offend
you by drawing a little shape on the screen,
was stupid to the people involved in it.
They were like, really you're going to get that
mad over us doing, just drawing this on the screen?
Wow! Well, you need to refocus
a little on life 'cause,
this should not be upsetting you that much.
Barrett Brown, I'm the
director of project PM
and former operative with Anonymous.
We were targeting furries,
which were just a sub-culture of people, of course,
who, you know, a lot of people
in 4chan, find irritating,
by virtue of their being irritating.
A furry is someone, generally a male,
who's autistic, in his twenties,
who identifies with animals and
oftentimes has sexual attraction
to other people dressed as animals.
There's diaper-furs -furries,
who enjoy wearing diapers,
baby-furs, who enjoy
thinking themselves as a baby.
We had furry infiltrators, we were trying, you know,
we had secret groups, mine was called the illuminati,
and our goal was to wreak
as much havoc as possible,
because it was stupid.
There was a point when I was, you know,
I'd otherwise seem a respectable writer,
in 2007, when my first book came out,
but I spent my evenings on
Second Life, that big virtual world,
riding around in a virtual spaceship,
with the words faggery-daggery-doo written on it,
wearing afros
and dropping virtual bombs
on little villages and concerts
and waving giant penises around
and that was the most fun
I've ever had in my life.
All these different organizations online,
whether it's 4chan, or just any website,
there is typically a community aspect to it.
This where people have
their social relationships,
this is where their friends are,
this is where they have a creative outlet
and so all those aspects are
going into groups like Anonymous,
where people, feel like
they're part of the bigger thing
and they're able to express
themselves within that group.
There were certain words, certain phrases,
certain ways people respond to things,
certain images that are posted,
that created a pattern
and that pattern was
I guess the origin of
what is now Anonymous.
It's like freemasons
with a sense of humor.
Not so much, as they have
this common symbology
and one of their chief joys,
which is kind of wrapped up
in power and secrecy, was the fact
that they could recognise each other,
by referencing these symbols,
referencing these phrases.
Over 9000,
I lost my ipod,
mudkipz, anything involving mudkipz,
so you have this weird sort of
international cultural developing with
people across the world, wherever they may be.
..and late '06 and into early '07,
there's a bit of a sea change, where
instead of just posting
a bunch of content or
randomly saying, we're going to go over
to some website and post a bunch
of dirty comments against someone,
it becomes a little more organized.
"Welcome to the Hal Turner show"
They went after a guy named Hal Turner.
"we've been discriminated against,
because I'm white.."
Hal Turner is a Neo-Nazi, who
was big online and had a podcast.
"I think that the 14th amendment
was not ratified properly
and I think therefore it is still OK
to have negros as slaves in America".
The first time I heard about Hal Turner,
is he was knocking somebody on 4chan.
He was just being a major dick to a
relatively known user,
and for the fun of it we started trolling
and then I guess we figured we had a moral high ground
which allowed us to get people on our side.
BUt he was a fucking Neo-Nazi.
That's not okay to be in modern society.
You're not allowed to do that
and there's a million Neo-Nazis out there,
but he started picking on our dude
so we had to go to our dude's fucking defence
and it just so happened that he was a Neo-Nazi so
that's a bigger reason that he's a fucking dick face.
..and like, yeah, screw that racist
son of a bitch, let's do this, you know?
So I joined in and I made
some of the phonecalls
and I played around on the chat-thing on his
website and posted in the threads and what not..
"Who are you and where you're calling from?"
"Ola, this is Pedro, from San Diego.."
"Spick, don't talk, don't call my radio
show anymore, you filthy spick animal"..
"..has begun an integration program,
where they try and purposely
lower standards, to bring more
blacks and diversify the campus
and by the end of the next 5 years,
they intend to bring over 9000!"
He was just a horribly
racist radio personality,
who seemed to handle it
well, when you called in.
He could handle being berated by Anonymous
and that made it very interesting,
it made it a bit of a challenge.
It wasn't some guy,
who just either crumbled
or stopped answering the phone,
it was a guy who would yell back.
"I don't see really where
you're going with this."
"Where I'm going is,
I believe Barack Obama
is genetically incapable,
of exercising the power necessary to govern
the most complicated nation on earth.
That's where I'm going with this.
And I think part of the reason
he's incapable of doing it,
is because of racial, genetic inferiority.
Is that clear enough for you?"
"No, you changed the subject again.."
"Wait a second, you asked me.."
Hal Turner wasn't the first actual person
that Anonymous had caused trouble for,
but the circumstances
ended up being significant.
They DDoS'd his website,
something like that cost him
thousands of dollars, bandwidth fees..
We DDoS'd him, which is overflowing his server
with packets and fake information
and then we kind of trolled him in real life.
We sent countless pizzas to his house.
We signed him up for escorts on Craigslist.
We sent a bunch of pallets of
industrial materials to his house
which he ultimately had to foot the bill for
and basically we destroyed his ability
to pay for his radio show
and that took him off the Internet.
He was super pissed.
..and then they ended up
getting some real hackers
to help them out, like this
wasn't a sort of pranks,
they actually were able to get into
Hal Turner's private servers
and his mail servers
and find some interesting
e-mails that he was
serving as an FBI informant,
which if you're a right-wing
neo-nazi, is not a good thing to be.
..and obviously him being an FBI informant
and also his reaction, his sort of
douchebag reaction to the raids,
damaged his credibility within
the white-nationalist scene,
which is a shame..
Hal Turner is gone,
he's been prosecuted by the
feds for threatening judges..
It wasn't supposed to be different
but it ended up being different.
People who observe Anonymous, see this group called
Anonymous is going after this white-nationalist and say:
"Oh, hey look, Anonymous must be
some kind of activist organization"
So, by virtue of these people joining Anonymous,
Anonymous becomes more of an activist organization.
What follows is a period
of confusion and anger,
whilst you have the
usual sort of people,
who wanna keep Anonymous as this nihilist,
little ridiculous group, are upset that now
the most terrible thing on the internet,
is now becoming a force
for good all of a sudden.
Project Chanology: A series of semi-coordinated 'attacks' on the
Church of Scientology, after its attempts to censor the internet.
Anonymous has never been
about getting media attention,
or getting all of this attention
towards it, which means it's a community,
a pretty, sometimes, insular community,
that is kinda kept to itself,
to make jokes and make content,
but that was of course changed completely,
it was trully and completely out of
it's head when chanology started.
Anonymous started to become
less of a just a culture,
you know, people who
wanted to perform pranks
and more of the internet's first army.
I'm Mike Vitale and my handle is "sethdood".
Now, this is January 2008.
Anonymous is strong now, you know, we're
not a little dinky fucking group anymore.
This is millions of people
worldwide and we're watching.
And then scientology stepped in,
with a big target on it's chest.
A video came out of Tom Cruise,
which was supposed to be like
an internal scientology video,
talking about secrets of scientology.
"Being a scientologist,
when you drive past an accident,
it's not like anyone else.
As you drive past, you know you
have to do something about it because,
you know you're the only
one that can really help."
He talks about, that you're
the only one, who can stop
bad things from happening
and so this is kinda
widely mocked online.
It circulated like wildfire!
"there's nothing part of the way for me,
it's just..(all the way?..)"
..people found it humorous and goofy
and the church of scientology went into
their "legal mode" and they
threatened websites with
lawsuits, if they didn't
pull down the video.
Instantly the scientologists posted a DMCA,
(Digital Millenioum Copyright Act)
and this is a way,
that if you own content,
you can go to video sites, upload sites
and have your content pulled
when someone uploads it illegally.
So scientology is always
at odds with the internet,
always trying to legally bully people,
out of fucking them over on the internet.
They always did that and then here
they are trying again, but you know what,
Anonymous saw that and he said,
"You guys just fucked around badly,
you're trying to sensor our internet,
you're trying to take a joke away
from Anonymous, you don't do that."
What these people did in this case is,
Gregg Housh and these other people, was
they decided, we can probably harness
Anonymous in this case and target scientology.
A few anons, a few people on 4 chan posted: "Hey, we
should grab that video and post it on a few other sites"
and I was one the people on that thread, talking
about it and we got the original source of the video
by reaching out to the person
behind the accounts and everything.
We started posting it. The surprising thing,
was how fast they were DMCAing it on every site.
It looked to us like, they must
have direct contact with the lawyers
and the team who actually pulls
videos off at all of these sites.
It was minutes and these things
were falling down, like, holy crap!
That's messed up!
What followed was, there's this term
called the "Barbra Streisand effect"
and this video as they were attempting
to suppress it, it went everywhere like,
everywhere you look on the internet
you were gonna stumble upon this video.
Actually gawker, the site that I work for,
was I think, the first one
to put it on the website
and we got in a huge legal
battle with scientology,
who wanted us to take it down.
A guy joins the channel
and he says, you should all look at gawker.
So we go over to gawker and
the strangest thing has happened.
This big media company had the video
up on their front page and basically had
a comment underneath it, that
stated very clearly that the FBI,
would have to come and take their servers
to get this video taken down.
That they were sick of
this abuse that was going on.
That made us think, what have
we got ourselves mixed up in here?
Scientology is an interesting
target, because in some ways,
it's the perfect inversion
of what geeks and hackers value.
At so many different levels:
science fiction,
intellectual property,
discourses of freedom,
science and technology,
it's very proprietary,
it's closed
and so in some ways if
you had something like,
a cultural inversion machine and
you stuck geeks and hackers in there,
you'd get something that
looks a lot like scientology,
so it's quite offensive and
there's a real pleasure in
attacking your perfect nemesis.
We're such poor opposites,
with them being secretive
and us hating secrets
and them being so inclusive and us being,
you know, anybody can say they're anonymous
and most importantly, how
fucking self-important they were.
They thought they were fucking untouchable.
They thought they were like, you know,
like their own little church
mafia and shit, you know?
Anonymous will..,
it's like a play-toy now.
We're gonna make you
look, as stupid as shit.
What really kinda dared us
and set us off about scientology
is specifically the treatment of their critics.
Anybody who says anything
bad about scientology,
is automatically some sort of criminal,
some sort of crazy person, a drug addict.
It's just that kind of
mentality that kind of, like,
if anybody says anything bad about you,
we're gonna fuck you over
in the worst possible way.
It resonated like, this
feeling of disgust within us.
That was THE big problem.
The sensorship aspect of it.
The audacity of this creepy cult,
to go into our territory
and tell us that we can't post this?
No, fuck them! No..
It's not gonna happen.
And people who knew what Anonymous
was to begin with were like,
OMG, Anonymous is gonna
go to war with scientology,
this should be really interesting.
Especially, cause it's 2 weird-ass groups
I mean, I've been an anon for a long time.
I know Anonymous is really strange.
They're weird and the
stuff we like is weird
and it's really not mainstream at all.
Now you have scientology,
also really weird, a lot
of crazy shit goes down.
Anybody on the outside,
who's seen this, is going:
"Let's watch these two retards fight.
Both their pants are gonna fall
down, they're gonna cripple
and it's gonna hurt everybody
and it's gonna be hysterical."
And what happened was all
these people who were geared up,
the infrastracture was build
to war with other anons.
..said: you know what? Fuck it!
Everybody is gonna get together and
pound the fuck out of scientology.
And then that's when 4chan
really reared into action,
and they started to troll
the church of scientology
and this took the form of pranking
the dianetics hotline, ordering pizzas..
Every fax number we get,
we were sharing 'em all,
every number we get,
even blank pieces of paper,
on a loop until we saw the ring.
I got to call 'em on the phone
and it's busy, busy, busy..
That's their main dianetics hotline,
their dianetics 800-number.
You can't get through, because
anons have completely clogged it
and probably saying just stupid shit.
The whole idea was just, you call
'em just to keep 'em on the phone.
"What's up L. Ron (Hubbard),
how do I dianetics my face?"
They were not expecting that
and they couldn't handle it.
I'm Brian Mettenbrink.
I always liked anything technical,
mechanical, anything sciency really.
Computers do what you tell 'em to,
they don't all of a sudden start doing
weird stuff and if they do it's probably your fault
and I was like that, you know, perfect really, in a way.
I'd just gone to 4chan,
just on pure happenstance and
I saw a post about the scientology thing and
I started looking up stuff and I'm like, oh,
this is actually for a decent cause,
I think I'll do this.
You started seing all the stuff in /b/
and I saw the stuff in /b/ then.
Everyone is gonna DDoS scientology,
everyone is going to bandwidth-rape them.
Anonymous members have developed a
Distributed Denial of Service attack,
to a called, Low Orbit Ion Cannon,
which is taken from a computer game.
Low Orbit Ion Cannon is what's called
an "endgame weapon" in Red Alert.
All you had to do was literally
follow instructions step by step.
I downloaded the program that's free
and legal for anyone to download and use
and I followed the instructions
and I pushed "GO" and what it does is,
it tells scientology.org, in this case,
to send their website
to my computer about,
I think it was 800.000 times in a weekend
and I'm pretty sure I probably took
it down myself, a couple of times.
This tool is,
Low Orbit Ion Cannon,
sometimes referred to as LOIC.
I'm actually not breaking any laws,
by using this tool
against my own computer
which is a non-routeable address,
but of course if I were to attack one
of those other bigger sites out there,
I would have severely
been breaking the law
and I would have been doing it,
in a way that is quite easy to track.
You put on the site,
you see that the ip is correct,
you make sure all these settings are good
and you hit the button
and off it goes.
It felt like you were
making a difference
just you, yourself
and you didn't even
have to leave your home.
You just sat at your computer
and followed instructions
and you stood up for what you believe in,
so to speak, you made your say in the world
and hopefully it turns out better for it.
That was some really
crazy stuff to watch,
to be sitting there in front of
a monitor and you have information
just flying in front of you and
it's this unseeable internet war.
And one of the guys said,
we need to make a video.
We just have to make a video.
"Hello, leaders of scientology
we are Anonymous."
When the video came
out on January 21st,
that was one of the
first times that Anonymous,
as a culture,
started referring to itself
as Anonymous as a movement and
declare that it was
going to take down
and destroy the church of scientology.
That video probably
changed everything.
"Knowledge is free.
We are Anonymous, we are legion.
We do not forgive, we do not forget.
Expect us."
It basically looked like, if a
computer was going to tell you,
that it was gonna beat the shit out
of you, this is what it would look like.
That one video, really
galvanized that moment,
that moment of innovation.
That's exactly like,
with that video internet activism,
as it's known today, was born.
What the video was saying was:
It's over.
You're not going to be able to
follow people back to their
houses anymore with impunity.
You're not gonna be able to just
issue cease-and-desist letters.
Any reporter, who wants to write some shit
about you, that you don't like, that's done with.
Everytime you do that,
Anonymous is gonna hit you harder.
So we made a video named,
'Call to Arms'. It said:
We're going to the streets,
every major city of the world
has a scientology building.
"Be very wary of the 10th of February.
Anonymous invites you to join
us in an act of solidarity.
Anonymous invites you to take up the banner of
free speech, of human rights, of family and freedom.
Join us in protest outside of
scientology centers worldwide."
..and you just see this consensus
forming that it's going to happen.
So we made the 3rd video,
the 'Code of Conduct.'
Don't bring weapons, dress accordingly,
cover your faces, 'cause
they will try and find out
who you are and screw with your life.
"Rule number 17:
Cover your face. This will prevent your
identification from videos taken by hostiles."
Scientology has a history of harassing,
stalking and just generally doing
horrible things to it's critics,
so people needed a way
to hide their identities.
A lot of people had very legitimate fears.
They don't want to be followed home,
they don't want to be stalked,
they don't wanna put their
families or themselves in danger.
Everyone was all, well,
we're gonna wear a mask.
What's the only mask that we all
already know, or have a joke about?
..and it's the Guy Fawkes mask.
You seen the movie 'V for Vendetta'?
You know, the ending scene where
everyone is wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.
That is very reminescent of
what Anonymous thinks, Anonymous is.
We wanted to represent anonimity in
some way, when it moved into real life.
I think that the Guy Fawkes mask,
was one of the most
natural things to happen.
It is the idea that,
non of us are as cruel as all of us.
You have this massive crowd
of people who are Anonymous,
that is going to fight
against a bigger thing and win.
Even after watching the video
it's like, yeah this is great but,
who is actually gonna do it?
Who's gonna step up?
Our people are actually
gonna get out of their house?!
And I guess we were really
affected by the stereotype of
that whole community
their being insolent when they're
too afraid to leave their mum's basements.
I figured, maybe 50 nerds
from every city somewhere
might show up and wear their masks
out of a building for a while and leave.
No one thought that
they were gonna come out.
This is me on the way there.
I haven't slept, very fuckin' tired..
..and I remember going to the park that day
and it's really early in the morning
(which I thought was a bad idea)
and I'm smoking a cigarette and I'm looking
around like, where the fuck is everybody?
There's nobody here.
So here I am. Sitting in Bronx Park,
waiting for the other anons to show up.
I remember thinking, like, oh fuck!
Am I gonna be the only one in the park?
Am I going to walk to
scientology with 6 or 7 people,
which totally defeats the entire purpose of this
because now they could single me out? You know?
Then I get up and I start walking around
and I see there's a lot of green
balloons over there, for some reason,
on the other side of the park!
There was like 200 people!
There was Guy Fawkes masks everywhere
and I'm like, holy shit, this is huge!
There's a lot of us.
That's pretty good.
I had no idea how many anons
there were until we started moving..
..and it just got bigger!
I remember walking through Times Square and
everybody in Times Square was an anon.
This is like a 1000 person
per minute foot traffic area
and everywhere I'm looking,
I'm seeing anon's symbols.
It was fucking wild!
It was really wild.
..we start getting numbers in..
..and Sidney:
We're thinking that,
it's going to be 50 people
and before 10am,
before even time, there's
already 50 people there
and there's still streams of
people walking down the streets.
A couple of hours into it, you know,
'cause it could have been
till 1 in the morning,
you're looking at Sidney as.. wow!
There's 250 people in Sidney.
The cops are estimating higher
than that for their reports.
What just happened?
Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne happened
and you know, over
We nearly broke a thousand leaving Australia.
Now, the next protest was Tel Aviv,
which had actually got it's first
scientology building a week before this.
There were Palestinians and Israelis
at this protest, both holding their flags
and at one point, they actually switched
flags and held up each other's flags.
It was awesome to see.
I call our guy in
London, a Brit anon
and I say hey,
what's going on there?
And he's like, did you
just get out of bed?
I said, yeah, I didn't
even turn on the computer,
I just figured I'd call you.
And he said, we've got 600 people
and the cops are really mad at me.
All the major cities were having
hundreds of people come out.
It was massive!
Clearwater had like 300 people.
I don't think anyone beat out L.A.
I think L.A. had over a thousand people.
The thing that happened was
something completely different,
hundreds and hundreds
of people from every city,
just.. swarmed the streets.
It's kind of overwhelming, a little
even scary, but scary in a good way.
Soon, you know, we'd outrun the 10.000 mark
and we were joking the whole time,
over 9000, you know, one of those memes.
It was too sureal,
it was not believeable.
We go by one name.
We are Anonymous.
It was very empowering,
especially after people saw
thousands of people showing up.
This was it. We owned
the world at that point.
You've got lolcats
and you've got Rickrolling,
you've got all these other things,
that Anonymous has been involved in..
..then you know, take us a month later and
in every major country in the world
and every major city in the world
and what the hell just happened?
What changed, who flipped the switch?
The world looked very
different to me at that point.
We all met each other.
The idea of an anon is, you're
alone until you get to 4chan
and then these people think like you.
Then, all of a sudden, you're not
alone, you are with 500 others.
They all know the same jokes as you,
they all, clearly, have
similar interests as you.
Here's your culture.
You meet your own people finally.
Immediately you felt like you were at home,
if you were an anon you were at home.
We all spent years in the same place
looking at the same pictures,
laughing at the same jokes,
pretty much we were already friends,
even though we've never ever met.
It was very happy.
It's perhaps a little surprising.
It's not just pre-teens or teenagers,
there's a far more even
mix of males and females,
than you would imagine otherwise.
Everyone always figured
Anonymous was a very male ..thing.
But it wasn't like that, at all.
There's some hot girls come through,
like, it's some really (..!),
you'd be surprised..
..and you know there were a lot of
these guys who weren't socially good.
They were very awkward,
they still lived at home
at 23, half of them virgins
and I tell you, the amount of those people
who got laid from these protests happening,
is in the thousands, that would
not have, for years probably.
That's why those protests were so important.
It was a chance to finally meet other people
that were previously Anonymous and unknown
and hence it was the moment
of the end of their anonymity.
Scientology, they kind of fought back,
so to speak. They posted stuff online.
While claiming they are peaceful,
in less than 3 weeks,
Anonymous members made or encouraged:
and 8 death threats against members
and officials of the church of scientology.
They basically antagonized,
really is what they did,
which is really one of
the things they're great at.
They wanted to find me.
They did. They hired PI's.
They started taking pictures of us,
threatening to sue us.
People were getting followed,
people were getting followed home,
(..) be a regular thing for someone to say,
oh, I had to lose someone on the subway,
I saw someone from the scientology center
and they were following me.
They would follow us to our houses,
tried to intimidate us,
send us cease-and-desist letters.
They had a P.I. hand deliver a
cease-and-desist letter from a very expensive lawyer.
It was a double message there,
you know, it was a hey,
we know were you live, man we know your
name and here's something from our lawyer.
These old tactics that they used,
to fight the activism they
faced before the internet just..,
were completely ineffective against chanology.
Most of the people who received them,
actually framed them and put them on their wall.
I've seen multiple of them
framed and put on the wall.
Mine is sitting in my
closet somewhere, in a box.
They don't care to actually
use the legal system to
get you thrown in jail, they care to
use the legal system to get you to stop.
I did the whole Low Orbit
Ion Cannon stuff and then
I pretty much just went
about my life after that
for probably,
here at my parents house, where I wasn't,
looking for me.
(-flashed their guns)
took their jackets off
and laid their guns on the
front seat and came out
to ask us if Brian was home
and explained that they were the FBI
and they were looking for Brian
and I've never been so scared.
And then my parents directed
them to where I was living
and they showed up and said,
I'd like to have a friendly
conversation with you
and I had the worst friendly
conversation of my life.
We sat down at my dining room table
and they just started asking me questions
and I'm trying to figure out what
they are here for, 'cause I have no idea
and they eventually started
asking me questions about Anonymous.
I was scared to death.
I mean, my son is,
is looking at 5 years in jail
and a 100.000$ fine.
I had no idea, that
it was any sort of
dispicable crime to do what I did.
I thought it was the kind of 'slap on the wrist',
So I actually told them,
that I did it at that point.
Then it went from there.
I would've never ever believed that,
the maximum punishment for this,
was 5 years in prison.
It was a very eye-opening experience.
I had a little bit of
trouble accepting it,
knowing that, I could
go to prison for 5 years,
knowing that, I would be
imprisoned from age 20 to 25 for this.
I thought, that was
a little bit extreme.
I tell people, that it
would be different if they
drank and drove and killed somebody.
But he didn't do that.
It's hard to deal with,
harder to deal with,
'cause he didn't do that.
He just pushed a button on his computer and,
as he explained it to me at the time,
it was like pushing the refresh button
over and over, 800.000 times
and it seems like
such a little thing.
I did the 2nd-most damages,
what scientology said I did,
I sent 2nd-most out of everybody,
so I got the maximum, for my category,
which was 1 year in prison
and 1 year supervised release.
I think the way I
feel for what I did,
was one of the most
lopsided punishments I've ever
read about or heard of.
Yeah, I think it's ridiculous,
especially the year supervised release
where I can't touch
a computer for a year.
I'm not sure what's that supposed to
solve, except make my life difficult.
So, that computer behind me back there,
I could go back to prison
if I went over and touched it.
I can't knowingly associate
with members of Anonymous.
They just made a big deal about
scientology's religion and that
this is America and you can
believe in whatever you wanna believe.
I'm pretty sure they
actually compared me to
the KKK and the nazis
and stuff in the court room.
It's a completely different issue.
I'm very proud of what he did.
He stood up for what he believed in,
but that was never ever mentioned.
I never would even dream of hurting anybody.
Not me.
Prior to Anonymous,
critics of the church
still had to be very-very careful,
because of the agressive lawsuits
that were launched against academics,
journalists and other critics.
I would say that era is over
and Anonymous more than any other
sort of intervention is probably
responsible for that change.
This is actually called
a decent rift in Anonymous.
There was one big group,
significant group of people who'd say:
this chanology stuff is
cancer, is awful, is bad,
is just bringing attention
to us that we don't want.
The trolling isn't happening,
we're not getting our jollies,
now this is all really serious
and moral and somber,
that's not what I signed
up for, that kind of thing
and then there are the people who
were on the other side who were going,
I only signed up for the serious and somber.
You guys, go away.
(..) and it became this fierce clash
of ideologies and it was alien to us.
They decided that, in their own words,
which I was privy to 'cause it was told to me,
stop ruinning our bad name.
So to make Anonymous look bad,
they go off and they post
animated .gifs, animated images
to epilepsy forums,
that are black and white
just strobing really quickly,
so any of the epilepsy people on these support forums
see it and they fall off their chairs and seizure.
You start hearing this term, moralfag.
If you're not out there making epileptics
have seizures, then you're doing it wrong.
So you're a moral fag.
Which is what I am, a moralfag.
Those who wanna use Anonymous as
a tool for good in some sense
rather than just do what we were used
to do, which is to screw with video games.
One anon said it well once.
There is no leader,
their ops have
momentary leaders, defacto leaders.
I like to describe this
with a picture of a bird swarm.
Everybody's flying very, very quiet
suddenly one bird flies in another direction
and the mass fly into the same direction, following that person.
It's totally okay to say, "I'm sorry, I don't take part."
When Chanology was running full force
it was like a kid stretching for the first time
and actually seeing their real power.
It's the teenage period actually...
...trying Operation Titstorm.
Operation Titstorm.
Australia over the past couple
of years, has been relatively
malignant in their attitude
towards internet freedom,
compared to other western countries.
A guy named tux, wanted to
attack the Australian goverment,
in retaliation for upcoming
internet censorship laws.
One of them involved banning pornography
with women with small breasts, for some reason,
so that was the first time that
Anonymous went up against a goverment.
When they did, they DDoS'd and
took down several goverment sites.
It was the first time that Anonymous
was going up against a state.
If you'd ask me,
all throughout 2008 and most of 2009,
is the politics of Anonymous,
always going to be sutured and hinged to
the church of scientology,
I would have said yes.
and it became unsutured, unhinged,
when a different political
wing was born in 2010.
The motion picture association (MPAA)
had hired an Indian software firm,
to DDoS the pirate bay
and Anonymous, coming out of 4chan,
DDoS'd the motion picture association of America,
as well as other groups like the
recording industry association.
It angered people for a lot of different reasons.
Obviously one of the reasons was that they were
attempting to censor the Internet.
Another of the reasons, though, was that
people in Anonymous had been arrested before for
taking part in such attacks,
say on the Church of Scientology
and other targets that there had been before.
I think there was a big sense of the hypocrisy.
This was the moment a kind of network,
a kind of architecture was born where,
there was a different
node that was unrelated.
Some people crossed over
and they were connected
by aesthetics and by ethics
and yet that was a different
ship that was sailing.
It's our task, to
find secret abusive plans
and expose them, where they can be
opposed, before they're implemented.
The intersting thing about Julian Assange,
is that he actually also sprang from
a hacker culture.
It's a mentality of
spreading information.
Julian was Mendax,
he was the greatest hacker that
ever walked the face of the earth
when I was a kid, they rumored
he can move satelites around in space
by hacking into NASA.
Maybe it never happened but
it was a myth that kept young kids like me
wanting to plug a computer into a modem
and see if I can move some satelites around.
WikiLeaks is an instantiation
of the hacker ethos.
Truth wants to be free
and we want to liberate it.
WikiLeaks released a huge
trove of diplomatic cables.
There's a lot of controversy
from every quarter of society.
The WikiLeaks website released nearly 400.000
secret US files on the Iraq war late today,
it was the largest leak of
classified US files in history.
The diplomatic cables show
the US is spying on it's alies.
Lots of things which were understood in private
and may have been, not even talked about explicitly,
suddenly they're out there,
in the cold light of day
and it's going to make some goverments
and some individuals very uncomfortable.
He was showing the world a glimpse of how
the powerful elite actually work,
at least to some extend, I mean
these are fairly low level diplomats
sending messages back and forth
but it's a side of government you hardly ever see
and it's pretty eye opening and,
you know, once it's out it's out.
I think information wants to be free
and let's look at it, let's analyze it.
It's important that we know such stuff,
It's important that we know what our governments do
and if they don't tell us, then somebody has to.
It's time to open the archives
There was one particular moment,
that really sparked the fire
and this was when PayPal,
Mastercard and Amazon,
pulled services for WikiLeaks.
So all of a sudden,
there's no way to actually
process donations to WikiLeaks.
Then their people went and found like,
neonazi groups.., Visa and Mastercard
were perfectly fine with you being able to,
PayPal, being able to make donations to them.
But WikiLeaks, No!
You can pay the KKK, you can donate
money to the Westboro Baptist church
with your PayPal and your fucking Mastercard,
but you can't give any money to WikiLeaks
and I think WikiLeaks is doing a good thing.
It's a total hypocrisy that they
got their little fucking banking mafia
to fuck WikiLeaks over.
People were incredibly angry
and it was a real sense of rage.
There was, I think it was a sense that
WikiLeaks was exposing lies that
the government told to the people
and now the government was desperately trying
to make sure that those lies weren't exposed.
And then, there was just an intense
I can only call it fury.
If you're a hacker, it's one of those
'John F. Kennedy was shot' moments.
Not to actually compare it to that,
but it's one of those
moments you always remember,
exactly where you were and
when you heard it, I mean,
I just really never dreamed
they would have the audacity.
Anonymous very quickly
moves into an attack mode.
Anonymous DDoS'd PayPal. They were pissed!
Cyber protest, virtual sit-ins, however
you wanna look at it, DDoS is a tool that is,
it's like driving a finished
nail in with a sledgehammer.
The numbers of participants were massive.
And they managed, over the
course of a couple of days,
to disable the website
of Mastercard and PayPal.
It was like watching the hack
magician finally get a trick right,
because you're not expecting it
and then it's magnificent, it was beautiful,
'cause what you had is,
people finally stood up for something.
How long has it been since we
had a huge really relevant protest.
I'm not talking Tea Party, I wanna
bring my guns in public, I'm talking,
I'm talking 10.000 angry people said this
is not right and I wanna do something about it.
Soon after January 2nd I believe
WikiLeaks was blocked in Tunisia
and Anonymous got into that.
They then intervened,
at first solely for the purposes of like,
stoping the censorship that was happening.
They did some DDoSing
and this was a time and period
where they were getting involved,
with what I would call, non-internetees.
Social movements inbuilding lines of solidarity.
My name is Pete Fein, you can
call me an internaut or a hacktivist.
Telecomix is an ad hoc cluster
of volunteer net activists,
who have spent much of the last year trying
to keep the internet running in the middle east.
During that time, we saw the
Tunisian government, not only
sensoring and filtering the internet,
but also doing some kind of
technical trickery to steal
people's facebook passwords
and delete their posts
and see who is posting what,
fake posts, stuff like that.
So Tunisian hackers came to us,
they were members of Anonymous
and I didn't even know we had members of
Anonymous in Tunisia, so it was a shock to me
and they had the keys to
some parts of the kingdom,
so to speak, when it came
to the dictator in Tunisia.
We went in, on behalf of those Tunisian Anons
and we helped them get that and extract it
and then it went to WikiLeaks.
The Tunisians overthrew Ben Ali,
who was kind of an oppressive dictator.
A revolution that was
facilitated by the internet,
by facebook and by twitter.
Not caused by it, I mean, 50 years of
dictatorship has caused the offspring.
but the internet has certainly been helping.
There's a video where they are thanking us for being involved.
holding up a mask saying
we were the only ones who stood by their side.
Thank you Anonymous.
We want to let you know that you have found new allies...
For me it was...
...awesome to hear that, and to feel the connection.
The same group of hackers, that target anti-WikiLeaks
sites, have now turned their attention, to Egypt.
It could have been the lead up
to the Egyptian revolution.
We would tweet on people's behalf.
We'd get people from Egypt,
who weren't able to access
twitter on their own, on our IRC network
and we would trigger ports for them
and tweet them out using our account,
to help them get the word out,
about what they were experiencing.
Some of this shit is personal
and one of the things,
about the movement as a whole,
when Egypt broke around,
is that Egypt broke us, emotionally.
Watching in real time, with
live feeds that we helped set up,
Egyptians get massacred with machine guns.
It was different and I have
never in cyber activism wept before,
it's never bothered me like that,
it's never been able to touch me,
the way Egypt touched me.
It was fucked up, that
we were watching people
killed, for no reason other
than leaving their homes,
that these people had
every right to freedom,
that they had every right
to choose their government.
..and then January 27th
to 28th rolls around and
the Egyptian government
starts shutting down
the internet, for the whole country.
There's this fantastic traffic-graph,
that you can see the
traffic coming out of Egypt.
It's like this and then..
..just totally stops.
And we're just arrrghh,
what the fuck,
to think that a country would
completely cut itself off,
as much as they were able to,
from the outside world.
It was pretty unthinkable.
We know bad things go
on in the dark places.
And suddenly it got quiet.
I remember it was somehow, burned into my brain that
first Twitter was flooded and suddenly everything was quiet.
That's the kinda thing that could start riots.
I think when Mubarak did what he did,
I think it really upset people here,
as well as in the Middle East.
I put myself in their place
and I found myself in
a desert of nothingness,
because he just wiped out everything,
that my world incorporated.
That just showed me
and everybody else that,
the same thing can happen at any time,
at any world, at any government.
Anonymous and the people on the internet,
stood up and said:
Go fuck yourself!
You wanna shut down their internet?
The people on the internet will
show them how to turn it back on.
It's almost like the Internet has an actual pain.
It's like the Internet is a living thing.
It's like a conscious thing that gets up and says,
"No, you can't do that!"
A lot of my friends helped with encryption,
helped people on the ground in those countries
validate SSL keys and certficates
and really showed them how to subvert their government
and become free.
And then Telecomix started to...
...tweet connections to the Internet, dial-up connections.
In Egypt the care package we put together
included some kind of our comms information,
the ham radio, the dial modem, details.
In total we helped co-ordinate
and ran about 500 dial-up modem lines.
We also googled up
treatments for tear gas and
other kind of basic medical treatment
and found folks who could
translate that into Arabic.
Sort of, put this together in
a nice one-page .pdf, in a fax
and off it goes.
I think the most effective thing
was shutting down government websites.
We were taking down the
dictator's webpages here.
It is cyber warfare at that point.
When you're dealing with a dictator like that,
that's killing people, all the gloves are off.
We are going to not just
take your websites offline,
we are gonna destroy
your every communications.
We are gonna wreck you like,
a nation state would wreck you.
In Cairo, Egypt, the crowds
are shouting and screaming..
President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down
from the office of president of the republic.
When Mubarak left, it was a "Hell Yeah!" moment.
People can rise up. People can make a change
and I think for a lot of people in America
it was the first time they had seen people rise up
and take down their government and say,
We're sick of this shit!
We're sick of the oppression.
We're sick of living as slaves to your power.
We had Egyptians come thank us, as for
doing this stuff and I said something like,
look, you guys just get our
back, if stuff goes down here.
Although it was awesome and it
was one part we were fighting for...
for me it was quite clear
it's not the end of the story.
That it's not suddenly changing into
rainbows and nyan cats, or whatever,
but that we now have to watch even more.
The FBI is now investigating Anonymous,
a loose collection of rogue, tech savy hackers,
credited with bringing down the websites
of Mastercard and Visa last December.
In, sort of, 40 raids back then, they ceased
computers, cellphones, this kind of technical apparatus,
Sometimes, in the case of a
they took her parents stuff, too.
There's always been a sort
of cat and mouse dynamic,
not just in relation
to the feds, but also to
the sort of groups, that
have appointed themselves as
guardians of the republic and there's
groups called like, backtrace security,
which may be a couple
of deranged people who,
I think for personal reasons have,
grievances against anonymous.
I've been threatened by people who are
former secret service agents,
who now run private security companies.
Suddenly on February 5th,
a Financial Times article
comes out, that we all see.
It's quoting this guy named Aaron Barr,
who's the CEO of HBGary Federal,
which is an intelligence contractor
and Aaron Barr is telling this
Financial Times journalist Joseph Menn,
that he's been secretly monitoring the
Anon-Ops server, where all of this is going on
and has done so for several weeks and using his own,
custom brand of information operations techniques,
has managed to identify the
alleged leadership of Anonymous,
including 25 "lieutenants", some sort..
We have to see this document,
everyone wants to know.
We don't need to destroy him,
we don't need to destroy his company,
we just need to see the document
and we'll decide what comes next
after looking at the document.
So they get it. It was unbelievably
easy to get into their network.
And my name was on there, as a string name
and Gregg Housh was listed there by string name.
The facts that matter is that,
what he told the Financial Times was,
everything he told them, was mostly untrue
and very much hilariously so.
He had to be shut up, it had to be proven
to the world, that this guy was a retard
and that his information was in no way valid.
..and to put that in hacker terms,
Anonymous is a hornet's nest and Barr said,
I'm gonna stick my penis in that thing.
Into mere 24 hours he was
owned, pawned completely,
by a small group of participants,
who basically went on a hacking rampage.
Faster than you can say,
"Get these hornets off my penis!",
Anonymous took down Barr's website,
stole his e-mails, deleted
the company's back-up data,
trashed his twitter account
and remotely wiped his i-Pad.
And he had just reached the
"Ham 'Em High" level in Angry Birds.
The HBGary hack brought
about 70.000 e-mails.
By the most, important ones
had to do with a proposal,
that HBGary had already formulated, it was
packaged up as a nice powerpoint presentation,
kind of, act as privatise agent provocateaurs,
where they were gonna discredit WikiLeaks.
HBGary was proposing submitting fake documents
to WikiLeaks and then, when discovered as fake,
the hare could be called out
and it would dicredit WikiLeaks.
Right. So there are a lot
of specifics I can't talk,
but let me try to answer that
though, in a general sense.
First of all, it's probably no surprise
to anybody, I'm not a big fan of WikiLeaks.
I think that the broad purpose of
trying to get as much information,
proprietary or classified information
from the government, expose that,
is an extremely destructive
and dangerous purpose.
As Julian Assange, had a few
months before noted, that they
had information on a major bank,
showing wrong-doing and Bank of America,
somehow knew it was them.
And the proposals involved, for Bank of America
and the WikiLeaks problem, they entailed
conducting information war on
WikiLeaks and it's supporters,
claiming to sensor them,
within WikiLeaks.
DDoS attacks.
You also wanted to launch cyber attacks
on WikiLeaks' infrastructure, to get
information on document submitters.
One thing I guess, I wanna
make sure is clear is,
none of these activities
had actually occurred.
In buisiness there's a..,
when you start proposing
or thinking about an idea,
there's a brainstorming phase
and somebody says, "what if..," you know,
"what could we do, what's theoretically possible?"
Still this was an idea, this was proposed,
this was something that you thought about.
They also wanted to go on a
campaign targeting Glenn Greenwald,
who is a reporter for Salon,
who's an outspoken critic of the
government and supporter of WikiLeaks.
It seems like you're trying
to attack a journalist here.
Yeah, you know, I don't wanna talk
too much more about Glenn Greenwald,
other than what I previously said.
There was never
an intent to attack
journalists, not on my part.
I guess I should generalise that
to say that, you know, I would never
just outwardly attack a journalist,
other than, if I felt that there was
a journalist in my mind,
that was acting unethically.
That's a fair game for having
a public discussion about.
They were walking a very
fine ethical line at points
and in many cases, the mass
opinion is: No, they're well past it.
I will not support broad theft of
information released to the public,
'cause that is nothing but destructive.
If somebody has, information
has been stolen from them,
whether or not WikiLeaks encouraged the theft
of that, or it was just put in their lap,
still, they're threatening to
release the information that was
the private property
of another organization,
so your choices are, to
just allow that to happen,
or to try and stop it.
How offensive is too offensive?
We've certainly seen a lot
of strategy, coming out of
governments across
the world now saying,
publically admitting that,
they need to become,
they need to develop
better offensive strategies
in cyber security, because
defense as a whole, isn't enough.
It never is enough.
Some of the most important things, that
have had the most far-reaching influence
and have been the most important, in terms of
what's been dicovered, not just by Anonymous,
but by the media, and the aftermath,
is a result of hacking.
That information can't be obtained
by institutionalist journalistic process
or can't be obtained, or won't be
obtained, by a congressional committee,
or a federal oversight committee.
For the most part, that information
has to be obtained by hackers.
After this had happened, although only
a small number of people had participated,
the collective mood was
exuberance, within Anonymous.
It was a moment of the lulz being recharged,
which people were excited about,
'cause people felt like, the lulz had been
running low, during the middle eastern protest
and so it was a moment
of great triumphalism,
within Anonymous.
Anonymous is currently
targeting Sony's website.
We are doing this, because Sony is
currently suing people for making features,
the Playstation originally
had available to the public.
It started off as a
denial of service attacks,
but then someone really broke
into the playstation network
and stole all the user accounts
and all the credit card information.
Sony has confirmed that hackers
broke into it's playstation network,
exposing the personal information
of up to 77 million users worldwide.
Anonymous basically bent Sony
over and had their way with them
and the consumers were the ones,
that also got hurt in the process.
able to use their playstations.
That, actually had real,
hard-core, end-user impact.
If they break into a site and
they pull back customer information,
do they really need to disclose
a hundred thousand customers?
No. What they're doing,
could be done a lot better.
When I say, better, I mean,
better for the end-user,
for the customers,
while still making a point.
And then, seemingly out of the blue,
there was something
by the name, LulzSec,
that sailed into the seas.
LulzSec is a sort of
group, a couple of people,
mostly from Anonymous,
large part of the same
people who hacked HBGary.
They decided to form
this little group and
just carry on operations, but outside
the purview of Anonymous, for a while.
They hacked whatever they wanted.
They released whatever they wanted.
It's almost like they had no rules.
They just said, "This is what we're gonna do,
we're gonna stir up the cart.
We're gonna make some trouble.
We're gonna make some waves."
And they did.
What they did was,
they put on a play.
Not high arts,
not low-brow either.
It wasn't particularly,
let's just say, grotesque.
Their symbol, was a kind of cartoon character
of the monopoly man, with the monocle and a cigarette.
There was a lot of iconography of boats and
ships, pirate motifs and then of course a cat.
Chaos and mayhem right now...
it's probably one of the right things to do.
Some of the things LulzSec did, in a
quarter of public opinion, were less noble.
Private citizens were being dox'd or,
your credit cards numbers
could have been redacted.
You can still make your point, without
actually giving up people's personal details.
So the quarter public opinions,
swayed, that LulzSec had crosed lines,
that, maybe, the previous
manifestation had not.
Collateral damage, such as the release of dox
and people's personal information who are
just caught in the crossfire of an Anonymous confrontation
is something that a lot of Anons don't really support.
There's a lot of
in-fighting about it because,
their way, wasn't really our way.
We will not attack the media.
PBS's Frontline, runs a documentary,
mainly focused on Bradley Manning,
the alleged leaker to WikiLeaks.
And as for all of Bradley Manning's
supporters, they didn't like it.
They thought it was a
little too psychologising.
It was like looking a little bit
more at his personal life, than at
why it is, you leaked the documents
and what the documents actually meant.
They hacked a website, putting a
story that Tupac and Biggie had escaped
the world of celebrity fame and attention and
retired quietly and discreetly in New Zealand.
LulzSec, when they attacked PBS,
that gave me the creeps, you know?
As a journalist, I'm not too thrilled
with the idea of someone judging:
we don't like you to write that,
we don't like your reporting,
so, we're gonna shut down your website.
I'm uncomfortable with that. It could
be me and I could be writting something
about a group, that they didn't like.
I'm happy to sit and talk
with them about it but,
don't shut my website down.
This is obviously about freedom of speech
so attacking the press would be...
would sort of be a bit of a contradiction.
So people have said, well, we shouldn't do that
and obviously LulzSec had a completely different agenda
so they had no problem with it.
"X-Factor" contestant database hacked.
They sort of saw themselves, as going out there,
breaking into, like, anything and everything,
governments, corporations, police departments.
Largely for the same
reasons Anonymous would.
They went after Arizona
for immigration policy.
A 50-day run, causing mayhem, havoc..
..and then ended it.
The computer hacking group Lulz-Security,
has announced it's disbanding,
saying, it's had achieved it's mission, to
disrupt governments and corporate organizations,
for fun..
I call this whole thing,
"the rise of the chaotic actor".
It's not like the first
time we had hacktivism,
but we're definitely seeing,
like a renaissance in it
and chaotic, could be
chaotic good, neutral or evil,
if you go back to deal with
Dungeons and Dragons terms
and some people see Anon Ops, initially and
they'll stick with Anonymous as chaotic good.
They saw operation payback or
they saw attacking scientology
and they say that's good,
it's like Robin Hood, right?
Chaotic good, outside the system,
but doing something good.
Other people, saw Anon as
chaotic evil, like the Joker,
that just wanna see the world burn
and potentially doing irreparable damage
and the truth is, yes, it's
the entire column of chaotic.
The Anonymous 16
Dozens of FBI agents targeted alleged
members of a loose-knit hacking group.
Armed with search warrants, agents hit 6 homes
in New York alone, with locations across the country.
The people arrested yesterday, were
suspected of attacking PayPal's website,
after the company shut
off payments to WikiLeaks.
Defenders of the hackers say,
they merely engaged in civil protest,
but FBI officials worry, the disruptive cyber
attacks, could move in a more dangerous direction.
So the FBI shows up at 6 in the
morning and it was really abnoxious
and I remember being
frustrated and angry because,
there was nothing, that I had done, that
would've justified an FBI search warrant.
They came, and guns blazing
at us and all that stuff,
bashing down the door, and they
just dropped me down the floor, 180..
I weren't trying to fight nobody.
The theory of the case is they were, you know,
they flooded, "a number of people flooded
access to PayPal, thereby creating economic
distress to a protected corporation", end of story.
This is not a case involving identity theft, outing e-mails,
violating privilege, theft of services, shutting down business.
It is a pure case of
internet or cyber sit-ins.
I think when Barack Obama
gets on television and says,
flood the switchboard, shutdown
the Republicans, send a message.
That's legal and even if you accept what the
theory of this prosecution is, it's no different.
This is an electronic
sit-in, at it's finest.
If you're a pedophile,
the average is 11 years,
if you're a computer
hacker, the average is 15.
I think that's ridiculous.
That's ridiculous, I mean you can go
molest children and get less of a sentence
than you would, for breaking
into someone's phone.
Even if you accept, what the
government is saying is true,
what is important, is that people
are participating in the process.
It is, very much, the process.
It is sitting-in, in a
counter in Selma, Alabama.
to go and sit-in at a segregated lunch counter.
They write books about that stuff.
It is demonstrating in a street
corner, saying, 'no more war'.
It's just a different vehicle.
It's the same results.
For 9 months I ran
from my indictment,
but they busted me, I went
to jail, I bond it out
and then I held a news
conference because,
as risky as that was and
against my lawyer's advice,
I wanted the world, to know some
fucking things, about what's going on.
I didn't want the feds to have
the only voice in the dialog.
This document alleges,
that, I'm the notorious hacker activist,
known to the world, as Commander-X.
I am, Commander-X.
The indictment further alleges,
that I'm in association with the
global internet freedom movement,
known as Anonymous.
I say yes,
I am immensely proud
and humbled to the core,
to be a part of the
idea called, Anonymous.
I would never compare myself to people
like Ghandi or Dr. Martin Luther King,
but they were one person and they were
willing to go out and change the world
and their messages live on
every day, through everybody
and to not take the chance of having
something like that to do, is foolish.
I only wish we had,
I'd feel a lot more comfortable as a guy,
gettings towards the tail end of his career,
if there were more Mercedes.
There's always gonna
be legal consequences,
when you decide
to break the law.
That comes with the territory
and it would be naive,
not to expect that.
The question is, whether the punishment
will be proportional to the crime
and I suspect, it might not be.
People will be watching very closely,
to see how these cases proceed.
On what grounds and whether there's
any room during the trials to think,
especially of the denial of service attacks,
as a legitimate form of protest.
So much of our lives are now configured,
at least in part, on the internet, so we better
start thinking about, how we claim parts of the
internet as spaces, that we can also protest in.
This is the point
in history, at which
you decide, whether or not
protesting is possible online.
You can stand up and you can say,
freedom of speech extends to online.
We've got the right, not to be monitored
by our government, because of our opinions.
It's up to you.
You're in the position of Huck Finn.
Do you remember Huck Finn at the end of the book?
He's told he's got to take
that slave and give it back.
jail, as Jim is property.
'cause he's in the evangelical enviroment of Missouri
and so Huck smokes his corn cob
pipe all night, thinks about it
and the next morning he says,
well damn it, I'll go to hell then.
In other words, he discovered that
in order to be an expert at ethics,
you had to transcend the legal and sanctioned
religious, appropriate truths of the day,
in order to access the meta-truth,
of both legality and righteousness.
Well, hackers see themselves as Huck,
putting down their corn cob pipe and say:
Alright I'll go to jail,
alright I'll go to hell,
but I'm gonna do the right thing.
I suppose the question
you really wanna ask is,
would I do it again?
And honestly, after thinking about it,
I felt that, I did what was right.
I had a belief, I still do,
that what I did was the right thing and
hopefully someone got some good out of it.
I'd love to think, that maybe I
stopped someone from joining a cult.
Probably wouldn't tell
on myself next time but,
I don't think I would have
changed a single thing, other than
the whole talking to the FBI thing.
It's just that little detail,
that changed everything.
I'm angry,
occasionally I have
small break-down moments,
of terror,
but I haven't stopped
believing what I believed,
I haven't stopped wanting to
fight, I haven't stopped caring.
I don't think this whole issue
is a technical hacking thing.
This is more about human
philosophy and psychology.
Let's motivate and ask, why is there so
much unrest or disenfranchisement or anger,
that would lead people to want to take
matters in their own hands and join this.
Whether you think it's bad or not,
is irrelevant, it's not going away.
I have stood upon the
mountain top known as Anonymous
and looked down on a world
inflamed with revolution.
What can you say, your spine tingles
when you are at the course of history
when you're surfing the waves
of history, your spine tingles.
There's a lot of people in Anonymous who feel
very deeply and very sincerely about
their contribution towards democracy around the world.
And I think that's one of the main things that
I'm most proud of about Anonymous.
There are things that I'm not proud of about Anonymous
but that we stand against censorship
and we stand against oppressive governments,
even our own,
is a very noble thing.
If you had power in real life
and you had money in real life,
it doesn't fucking
matter on the internet.
What matters on the internet
is your actual ideas,
how smart you are,
the quality of you
and when certain organizations want to
extend their real life power onto the internet,
it's not gonna fucking
take, because of Anonymous.
History teaches us that change,
simply doesn't come with flowers.
It dosn't work.
If the say I'm a criminal, then...
...then I will be one.
Anonymous is an evolving thing.
It's like a phoenix.
It might occasionally catch fire and burn to the ground
but it'll be reborn from ashes.
It'll be reborn stronger.
I don't care if you are
a democrat or a republican,
or an independant, or if you like Ron Paul,
or if you worship pidgeons or scientology,
or if you're catholic,
or atheist, or methodist..
I don't care about that.
Your opinion matters.
I don't care if I disagree with it.
I don't care if I hate your guts.
Your opinion matters.
We are Legion
The Story of the Hacktivists