Today, hacktivism combines three major groups:
, the most publicized component o the movement. Its members are known orsupporting a ree Internet and or opposing anyone they accuse o impeding inormation fow. Theirmethods oten involve hacking, including DDoS attacks, and stealing and distributing personal and/orcondential inormation. Oten avoring jokes in bad taste, they sometimes seem to be moving awayrom political acts. A large portion o this paper is devoted to them.
, the real activists. They primarily use the Internet and social networks to buildrelationships and to spread propaganda and inormation. They include
who, liketheir counterparts in real lie, no longer recognize the legitimacy o the political power they areexpected to obey. By attempting high-prole actions on the Internet, they hope to bolster democracyand ght corruption in their countries.
, patriots who group together as “cyberarmies” that thrive in many countrieswith totalitarian tendencies. Whether or not it is true, these groups claim to act on behal o theirgovernments by supporting national and extremist movements. Their main weapon is to deacewebsites. Also using DDoS tools, they do everything they can to silence dissidents.
The Anonymous MovementOrigins
The origins o Anonymous can be ound in the image orums on 4chan. Created in 2003 and initiallydevoted to manga culture, the website is currently one o the most requently visited on the Net, withabout 9.5 million unique visitors per month.
Anonymous is an oshoot o its most active section, “/b/.” According to its creator, Christopher “moot”Poole, the /b/ imageboard received 150,000 to 200,000 messages a day in 2008.
Absolute reedomo speech and anonymity are two o its major tenets. On this site, laughing out loud (lol) rubs shoulderswith “lulz,” its evil counterpart.
Hard-core pornography and scatological, racist, or anti-Semitic imagesappear alongside schoolboy photographic montages containing “lolcats,” highly visited photos o catsshown in the most unlikely circumstances. Unless they are noticed or reintroduced, the large number osubmissions nearly all pass into oblivion. There is no sign-up system on the site. Anyone can write on it,and most people post without a username, which gives them the deault name—anonymous.At that time, Anonymous members also requented the Encyclopedia Dramatica (created by Sherrod DeGrippo in December 2004).
A double o Wikipedia, it satirically—and even shockingly—documentedanything in the news.In 2006 Anonymous achieved its rst great coup, known as the Habbo raid. By coordinating on 4chanand using avatars depicting black Americans all wearing gray suits, the group blocked adolescentavatars rom accessing the pool in the virtual world o Habbo Hotel. Even then, their motivations wereambiguous. For some, it was simply or un; but or others, it was a way to highlight the lack o blackcharacters in social networking.Another early target or Anonymous was pedophiles. In 2007, Anonymous identied a Canadianpedophile who was later arrested thanks to their research.
Again, however, the motivation was unclear.Pedophilia-related images and jokes are requently circulated on 4chan, which eatures an icon calledPedobear. Frédéric Bardeau and Nicolas Danet, authors o the book
, write “in 4chan culture,people denounce paedophiles while at the same time mocking people who publish, not always happy,pictures o their children on the Internet.”
Anonymous really became known to the public in 2008 through the Chanology project.
This projectis still going on today, and its goals have not changed. The project protests the ounding myths oScientology in a nonviolent way, along with its obscurity and the dangers it brings upon its members byisolating them rom the outside world.On February 10, 2008, Anonymous hit the streets. To avoid being identied by the Scientologists, theywore the masks o Guy Fawkes, the comic book hero eatured in the lm
V for Vendetta
Poster or the lm
V for Vendetta
We will not detail all o the actions Anonymous carried out between 2006 and the start o the WikiLeaksCablegate operation. However, the ollowing table provides a summary.
Key Dates in the History o Anonymous
July 12, 2006Great Habbo Raid. First raid on the Habbo Hotel social network or adolescents. Highlights the lack oblack characters.December 2006Attack on the website o American nationalist Hal Turner.August 2007Support or Burmese monks during the Saron Revolution.December 5, 2007Arrest o the pedophile Chris Forcand in Canada. “Cybervigilante” members o 4chan seem to havehelped the police.
Guy Fawkes (1570-1606) was anEnglish Catholic who planned toassassinate King James I on November5, 1605, in response to his policy onreligion, which he elt lacked tolerance.The 1980s comic book series V orVendetta, written by Alan Moore anddrawn by David Lloyd, later adapted tolm in 2006 by the Wachowski siblings,deals with a completely dierent story.The action takes place in Londonaround 2040, in a dictatorial societywhere a reedom ghter named “V”is trying to establish political and socialchange, carrying out a violent personalvendetta against the powerul. Hewears a mask with the ace o GuyFawkes, whom he wants to imitateby inciting the people to break ree otheir lethargy. Ater being reworkedor the lm, the mask was adoptedby Anonymous members to orgean identity.