December 10, 2010
Who is Anonymous
In their most recent public statement, WikiLeaks is the only group of people to identify Anonymous
correctly. Anonymous is not a group, but rather an Internet gathering.
Both Anonymous and the media that is covering it are aware of the percieved dissent between
individuals in the gathering. This does not, however, mean that the command structure of
Anonymous is failing for a simple reason: Anonymous has a very loose and decentralized command
structure that operates on ideas rather than directives.
We do not believe that a similar movement exists in the world today and as such we have to learn
by trial and error. We are now in the process of better communicating some core values to the
individual atoms that comprise Anonymous - we also want to take this opportunity to communicate
a message to the media, so that the average Internet Citizen can get to know who we are and what
Anonymous is not a group of hackers. We are average Interent Citizens ourselves and our
motivation is a collective sense of being fed up with all the minor and major injustices we witness
We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We also do not seek to
attack critical infrastructure of companies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon. Our current
goal is to raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by the above
companies to impair WikiLeaks' ability to function.
What is Operation: Payback
As stated above, the point of Operation: Payback was never to target critical infrastructure of any of
the companies or organizations affected. Rather than doing that, we focused on their corporate
websites, which is to say, their online "public face". It is a symbolic action - as blogger and
academic Evgeny Morozov put it, a legitimate expression of dissent.
The background to the attacks on PayPal and the calls to attack Amazon.com
Amazon, which was until recently WikiLeaks' DNS provider, was one of the first companies to drop
support for WikiLeaks. On December 9th, BusinessInsider.com reported that Amazon.co.uk were
hosting the recently leaked diplomatic cables in e-book form. (Amazon.co.uk has since ceased
selling the bundle of the diplomatic cables.)
After this piece of news circulated, parts of Anonymous on Twitter asked for Amazon.com to be
targetted. The attack never occured.
While it is indeed possible that Anonymous may not have been able to take Amazon.com down in a
DDoS attack, this is not the only reason the attack never occured. After the attack was so advertised
in the media, we felt that it would affect people such as consumers in a negative way and make
them feel threatened by Anonymous. Simply put, attacking a major online retailer when people are
buying presents for their loved ones, would be in bad taste.
The continuing attacks on PayPal are already tested and preferable: while not damaging their ability
to process payments, they are successful in slowing their network down just enough for people to
notice and thus, we achieve our goal of raising awareness.
You can download the original pdf here.
As someone who has attended Anonymous events - peaceful demonstrations with no police intervention - I can reiterate that Anonymous is not a 'bunch of hacktivists'.