Blake’s Post about that bill against anonymous posting got me curious about things so I’ve been looking around, getting a feel for what folks reactions are online and checking out some of the legal issues. Anyway, in my curiosity I’ve stumbled across something that gives me pause and presents me with a bit of a problem. They’re a group self-dubbed “Anonymous” and I don’t quite know what to do with them.

From what I can gather, Anonymous is a rather decentralized group, there doesn’t seem to be any hierarchy or leaders or even qualifications for membership apart from deciding that you are one. My guess would be its a blanket term that covers a bunch of smaller individual group. Yet they still manage to act as a whole and have demonstrated on several occasions their ability to make an impact both on and off line.

On the one hand, they seem to be doing some good things. On December 7, 2007, Global News ran a story on the arrest of an alleged child predator by the name of Chris Forcand. The story said that the police investigation of Forcand began when detectives were contacted by a “self described internet teen vigilante group called anonymous,” who had already been tracking Forcand. Apparently Forcand had approached some members of the group and they began a campaign against him. Eventually Anonymous was able to dicover Forcand’s identity and location and contacted Toronto police, who set up a sting operation and arrested Forcand.

Global News Footage Story in Toronto Sun

At the other end of things, Amonymous hardly seems to be an entirely altruistic group. Anonymous has reportedly been behind less benevolent movements, including the Hacking of MySpace pages, “raids” on several forums, online gaming networks and other sites, and a massive campaign to spoil the ending to the Harry Potter books. (Okay… that one makes me laugh… but it’s still copyright infringement!)

Fox News Ran a story on Anonymous referring to them as an “Internet Hate Machine” and “Domestic Terrorists.” A writer for “Wired News” however calls the group nothing more than “Supremely bored 15 year olds.” And claims that the fox new story is the best prank the group has ever played.

In any case, these don’t always seem to be the nicest of guys. One of the groups slogans reads: “Anonymous: Because none of us are as cruel as all of us.”

The biggest notice Anonymous has gotten by far has been for it’s recent self proclaimed “war” against the church of Scientology dubbed “Project Chanology.” On January 12, 2008, a video produced by the Church of Scientology was leaked to the Internet and uploaded to YouTube. The Church of Scientology claimed copyright violation and requested that YouTube remove the video. Soon after, Anonymous released a YouTube video declaring their campaign against the church of Scientology. Anonymous attacked the church of Scientology with DOS attacks, prank calls and black faxes. In a subsequent YouTube video they called for protests outside of Scientology centers and on February 10, 2008 some 7,000 people world wide showed up to protest outside of Scientology centers in 93 cities worldwide. Cities in which 100 or more participated included Dublin, Ireland, Atlanta, Georgia, Dallas and Austin, Texas, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, Toronto, Canada, Clearwater, Florida, St. Louis, Missouri, New York City and London, England. Another rally is scheduled for March 15. Beware the ides?

This gives a pretty astounding picture of what this underground group is capable of. So the question is, how do we react to this? Yeah, the group is certainly responsible for some good things, no one likes a pedophile, but from what I’ve seen they can be pretty volatile as well, and is it really a good idea to encourage online vigilantism? At the same time, I can’t help but think of that bill against online anonymity. I don’t want my full name showing up places online, and if a bill like that managed to actually gain some support… well I’m pretty sure these Anonymous guys would fight it and fight it hard. That’s good for me, so I kinda want these guys around. But maybe it’s groups like this that inspired the bill in the first place.

Or am I way off base? Are these just supremely bored 15 year olds? Tell me what you think.

11 Responses to “Anonymous: Cyber Vigilantes?”

  1. Anonymous is hardly a group bored 15 year olds.

    We are a global movement of many individuals and many groups, united by a common cause. We wish the public, the people to learn the nature of Church of Scientology. A business entity protecting itself in patents, royalties and lawyers. Yet claims itself a religion to escape taxes. The abuse it has perpetrated on its critics and on its own follower. Its financial exploitation its followers. Its abuse of children, confined in Sea Org, where they are forced to work as hard as any working man. The OSA, Scientology’s very own secret police. Rehabilitation Project Force – a gulag by any other name. Its policy of – Disconnection – a shunning policy that destroys families. Its subversion of public and corporate goodwill to push its teachings using such bodies as The Way to Happiness Foundation International. Its policy of Fair Game – where opponents”Maybe injured by any means by any Scientologist…May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”

    The crimes of The Church of Scientology are diverse and many. For that we Anonymous are unified. We will not forget those who have suffered and died because of this cult.

    As for cyber vigilantes? The Church of Scientology has a long and active history using frivolous litigation to silent its critics. Time magazine wrote an article on Scientology, the Church was not amused. Time was sued for over $400 million. The case was dismissed by only after 3 million dollars in legal expense. No paper till today has dared to speak of Scientology. It only takes good men to do nothing for evil to win.

    We are Anonymous,
    We are legion,
    We will not forget,
    We will not be silent.

  2. Cody Crumrine says:

    @Anonymous-3423

    Wow. I’m kinda shocked, even a little impressed to see that this post was actually noticed. I’d like to say first and foremost that my intention is not to ruffle hairs. A good portion of this blog is devoted to online communities, networks, groups and movements and this is certainly one hell of a movement.

    That said, your post reads as if Anonymous was created to fight the church of Scientology, but from what I’ve read it’s been around much longer than that. Now I don’t know about the validity of any of your claims (not accusing them of being false, just saying I can’t make judgments based on anything I haven’t researched for myself) but if they’re true then your campaign against Scientology has more than a little merit. If not… well like I said I haven’t done my research so I can’t comment.

    That aside, I’m not denying that a movement this big has alot of potential for good. The Chris Forcand case is a convincing enough example in my opinion. However, what would you say to the reports of motiveless harassment? The appearance of individuals personal information online, threatening phonecalls, denial of service attacks, even instances of racism attributed to Anonymous? Is the movement so large and decentralized that the individual groups are able to damage the name of the whole unchecked? Or were there “good reasons” behind these cases. In launching your war on the Church of Scientology, you recognize certain actions by them as “wrong,” so you must ascribe to some code of morality. What do incidents of individual harassment do to your credibility when accusing others of deceiving and destroying?

    If you, or another member are still around or watching this site I’d love to hear your comments. Like I said, this is general interest and curiosity, I’m trying not to put a negative or positive spin on this, so if you’ve got a position you want to defend, by all means please do.

    On the other hand, if you’ve dubbed this blog sufficiently addressed and don’t plan to pay it anymore head, then thanks for leaving the thoughts you have.

    Oh yeah, one other little bit of curiosity (it’ll kill me one day.) The “We are legion” line in your little slogan. Is the biblical reference intentional?

  3. Hello,

    Anon grew from the web forum 4chan, a place of internet malcontents, hackers and ne’er do wells in to a subversive and sometimes unpleasant single and multi-cellular organization. The war with anonymous has recruited many more people than the couple of thousand that anon had already and seems to have focused the group, given them a goal and a worthy adversary.
    Where as before those in Anonymous really against new members or “newfags” now they are welcomed in the fight with the “church” of scientology. The group does seem to have “grown up” and I would guess with an influx of older anti Co$ types now has far more real world resources as well as online its might. Whether or not a backlash from the original members who picked on random people in the past will occur I don’t know but at the moment Anon are nothing but positive.

  4. Looks like the next planned protest is for March 15th – the birthday of the founder of Church of Scientology (Co$)

    I’ve also “stumbled” across some stuff on Anonymous and saw some pix from one of their protests. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this protest.

    There is also a good lesson to Anon in relation to SEO – for awhile if you did a Google search on “dangerous cult” or “brainwashing cult” Co$ site was first. I think Google was a bit embarrassed by this obvious gaming of their system and removed it – They have taken steps to stop so-called “Google Bombing”

    Anon’s own site xenu.net is 3rd on Google for “Scientology” and the title is “Operation Clambake – The Inner Secrets Of Scientology” LOL

    I would love for an Anon member to talk a bit about some of the efforts they’ve made in terms of SEO and taking advantage of the social media machine.

  5. @ Cody Crumrine

    We, Anonymous are a group of many. When we chose to stand against the Church of Scientology, individuals and groups from across the Internet hear our call. They joined us. Our composition changed. We changed.

    When Mark Bunker of Xenu.net addressed us, we realised our mistake. The DoS attack was a mistake. It only served to discredit us, discredit our cause. Any actions that could be constructed as aggressive or as religious persecution will play into the hands of the Church’s massive PR and legal machine. We, Anonymous have learned our lesson.

    The Church of Scientology has the policy of Dead Agenting- a policy codified by Hubbard- that diverts critical statements against Scientology by making counter-accusations against the accuse. They will make accusations, even manufacture evidence as ‘Operation Freak Out’ against scientology critic Paula Cooper has shown.

    Anonymous can not afford to give Scientology’s accusations support. Anonymous must be peaceful. All who join the cause know this. Our only real weapon is the dissemination of information. Our only means of achieving WIN- is to drag the Church of Scientology into the spotlight of international public and governmental scrutiny. We do not wish fear, we want public discussion and debate.

    When long time critics of the Church of Scientology joined us, they added vital knowledge of the Church’s normal operating procedure; The unbelievable extend of the Church’s miss-deeds and the astonishing lengths it will pursue its opponents once they have been identified. When this old guard – those who have stood up against Scientology decade and decade before- joined us, we changed again. When ex-scientologist joined us, their voice added a human dimension to reason we must stop this Church. We again changed. Our focus extended – Operation Reconnect.

    Since we first stood against the Church of Scientology, we have evolved. We grew larger, we grew up.

    Anonymous is large. Any may join Anonymous, and many have done so, including agents of the Church of Scientology, who made poor attempt at – phishing -obtaining our personal particulars, who have worked to discredit us, to censure us, to change our focus, to make us violent. They have failed. We are Anonymous, we are nobody’s personal army. We are many united by a cause. The Church of Scientology is our focus.

    As for racism, realise that Anonymous spans the internet, the globe. We now come from every continent of the world. We hold protests from North America, South America, Israel, South Africa, Europe, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines. Every nation where the Church of scientology has planted itself. Racism is not Anonymous’s agenda. Religious persecution is not Anonymous’s agenda. None of this can be possible when we are so diverse.

    L Ron Hubbard wrote the “correct procedure” for attacking enemies of Scientology

    (1) Spot who is attacking us.
    (2) Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using own professionals, not outside agencies.
    (3) Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
    (4) Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press.

    “Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.” –L. Ron Hubbard .

    “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win.”
    –L. Ron Hubbard

    “May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed” — Fair game. L. Ron Hubbard

    To any single individual, to any single group, these policies to “Attack the attacker and never defend”, this methodology is lethal. We, Anonymous are legion, for the name reflects our nature. Anonymous is one, composed of many, each a follower, each a leader. Only Legion can survive the attacks of the Church of Scientology.

    We are Anonymous,
    We are Legion,
    We will not forget,
    We will not be silent.

  6. Its hardly new for the church of scientology to be discussed. However there is a new combinaton in development here that I may be able to help you reconstruct.

    Independent thought and the right to look at the world for traps exists in many. No more so in the youth who are approaching it for the first time view as they begin to leave family-ville and enter the real world.

    All people are capable of making poor judgement calls, and many did so. Attacks on servers and other independent actions are foolish and unproductive once the blowback hits. Some of these members learned that through their own actions and grew up.

    What there is, is a hulking decaying patch of corporation litigation, social manipulation and an awful lot of checks being asked for by this particular form of church. Their beliefs have been bizarre, their tactics have been detrimental even criminal at times. Yet there are stories of community, growth, development, happiness.

    Somewhere within the mix of one group interacting with another there is a natural force of nature that will help both groups evolve.

    Anon will grow up with lessons and education they can apply to social structure as well as a watchdog attitude, and the church will reform to remove the very things it hasnt been able to handle on its own.

    One very large question however, is why certain benefits have been provided in the tax arena to such an organization, and why prior members of the FBI refer to this organizaton as better funded, well organized and a low priority due to the liability of the amount of funds it would take to disrupt and dismantle it.

    Seems to me that the court of public opinion and information is the savior here, for both groups. We have begun to teach one another on a global scale.

  7. I, as one individual, believe that Anonymous is a good movement as a group against The Church of Scientology, I, am a firm believer in Jesus, and God, and Genesis 1:1 and that is the word of God, and the word of God is the truth. Amen. I Am ONE, Who Believes in God.

    ~enonomis~

  8. As a collective whole our belief is not that scientology entirely evil, bad, stupid or moraly abhorrent. They have in the past done wonderful things for people, their narconon services have found success for many, and many people have found happiness within the faith. For those that have, I wish them the very best. Whether you worship God, and alien or a potato chip, spiritual right and wrong is not for man to judge. We judge by their past actions, many of which have caused undue pain and suffering within families and individually.

    The problem arises with frivolous lawsuits and deliberate intimidation and abuse of all who would voice their objections to the organization. The internet is not to be censored, newspapers sued and magazines forced to formally apologize for speaking unwelcome facts and unfavorable opinions. Their tax-exempt status is also one we will hotly contest until it is rectified. They expect favoritism, but as a whole we will not bow to their tactics and grant it. All men were created equal and shall be treated thusly in the eyes of the law. Including taxation. There is merit in encouraging people to remove themselves from negative influences, and helping them if they so desire but are unable to do so on their own, but enforcing it at anothers discretion is. . .unwise. Families have been torn apart, husbands sent halfway around the world, mothers separated from children, siblings no longer allowed contact at all through excommunication. All at the leaders discretion, ofttimes to “motivate and redirect” a members influence. Project reconnect aims to reunite these forcibly separated families. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dj67TXxrmM

    Expect us.
    We will not be silenced.

  9. 4greatjustice says:

    Anonymous is a cause. To say that the previous actions of anonymous individuals condemns the cause is a fallacy.

    We stand united against the injustices of the church of scientology.

    Look up Paulette Cooper’s story, look up Operation Freakout, Operation Snow White, Sea Org + forced abortions. Look up the “fair game policy” that has supposedly been discontinued, but really just renamed. Look up their disconnect policy. Look up the church’s criminal charges in Canada. Look up “Enemy Canada” and their attempts to “neutralize” him.

    It should be noted that the beliefs of scientologists are not called into question. It is not our place to judge. What is called into question are the intrusive and destructive practices embedded into their systems. We do not oppose the group known as the Free Zone, who practice Dianetics outside of the Scientology Organization.

    We ask that you follow the media and their coverage of our events. As one might see, fox news claims that we have called in bomb threats for several stadiums across the US. If you were to research the Paulette Cooper story, you will find that these tactics have been used against her, and that documents were recovered that cleared her name from any such threats that the Scientology organization attempted to tie to her name.

    Information is free. Arm yourself.

    We are Anonymous.
    Our leader: The cause.
    We are Legion.
    We will not be silenced.
    Expect us.

  10. hmmm bored 15 year olds?
    i’m a 28 year old who has 2 undergrads and a masters. 15 i’m not XD

  11. Joyousness Thetan says:

    Hahaha…. So we are getting to ya huh? Yea we’re not done though….I am a Scientologist and proud to be one I dont care who knows I find it kind of cowardice for you to hide yourself to protest because if I am going to protest something I want them to know exactly who I am and why I am doing it. We are not violent people at all and I love the lies that you are posting….The truth shall rise just as we are now….
    We live again…Always returning…And forever Faithful,
    Never do we give-up,
    Joyousness Thetan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *