By Abby Zimet, Common Dreams
With Julian Assange jailed in the UK, supporters are fighting to keep Wikileaks alive. Internet activists called Operation Payback reportedly managed to shut down the websites of both PayPal and the Swiss PostFinance, which cut off Wikileaks funding. Reports have surfaced that one of Assange’s female accusers worked with a group with connections to the CIA. Noam Chomsky and many others have written an open letter of support for Assange, and over 500 Wikileaks mirror sites have now been set up; they’re here.
We have taken PostFinance.ch and Aklagare.se offline–anyone else who stands in the way of free information will fall as well. This goes far, far beyond DDOS attacks. We know that you will remain unbiased in your reports, for there will be an expansive need for media attention in the coming hours. We are not a terrorist group and we refuse to harm anyone with our actions. We are fighters for Internet Freedom. I am not a figurehead, no, just a messenger of the collective that is Anonymous. We are all anonymous.
Wikileaks will remain unharmed. There has already been a mass distribution of the contents of that website to internet users all over the world. The government has lost its control over this content. Please feel free to e-mail me with any additional questions. I will speak on behalf of Anonymous and convey their will to you.
The full weight of the U.S. government is being brought down upon Wikileaks, and mainstream media outlets have predictably been repeating the misinformation campaigns of those in power.
A Letter from Anonymous: Our Message, Intentions, and Potential Targets
Hello World. We are Anonymous. What you do or do not know about us is irrelevant. We have decided to write to you, the media, and all citizens of the free world to inform you of our intentions, potential targets, and our ongoing, active campaign for the freedom of information exchange, freedom of expression, and free use of the Internet.
“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”
– The Cardinal
Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy by: Edward Bulwer-Lytton
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
Our message is clear:
We support the free flow of information. Anonymous is actively campaigning for this goal everywhere in all forms. This necessitates the freedom of expression for: The Internet, for journalism and journalists, and citizens of the world. Though we recognize you may disagree, we believe that Anonymous is campaigning for you so that your voice may never be silenced.
The recent news of our campaigns has been, at best, misinformed. We are not a terrorist organization as governments, demagogues, and the media would have you believe. Rather, Anonymous is a spontaneous collective of people who share the common goal of protecting the free flow of information on the Internet. Our ranks are filled with people representative of many parts of the world and all political orientations. We can be anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you are in a public place right now, take a look over your shoulder: everyone you see has all the requirements to be an Anon. But do not fret, for you too have all the requirements to stand with those who fight for free information and accountability.
Accordingly, Anonymous is not always the same group of people: Anonymous is a living idea. Anonymous is an idea that can be edited, updated, remanded–changed on a whim. We are living consciousness. At this time, Anonymous is a consciousness focused on actively campaigning for the free flow of information and accountability by our public institutions. We ask the world to support us, not for our sake, but for your own. When governments and corporations control information they control you. When governments are allowed the power of censorship, they are able to commit great atrocities and act in corrupt ways –free from the scrutiny of those from whom their power derives. When corporations are capable of using their vast amounts of wealth to manipulate or influence the free flow of information, they control you. We are taking a stand against this–we refuse to be deceived!
The Internet is one of the last bastions of the free flow of information in our evolving information society, and one that is capable of connecting us all. Through the Internet, all the people of the world have access to information. When we all have access to information, we are strong. When we are strong, we posses the power to do the impossible–to make a difference, to better our world. This is why the government is moving on Wikileaks. This is what they fear. They fear our power when we unite. Please, do not forget this.
Our intention is just:
The intention of Anonymous is to protect free flow of information of all types from the control of any individual, corporation, or government entity. We will do this until our proverbial, dying breath. We do this not only for our selves, but for the citizens of the world. We are people campaigning at this very moment for your freedom of information exchange, freedom of expression, and free use of the Internet. Please remember this as you watch the news, read posts on Twitter, comment on Youtube or Facebook, or send email to a friend or loved one: Anonymous is making every effort to defend free speech and free information on the Internet.
We ask for the attention of the world as the events that are unfolding are fundamentally influencing the course of history. Anonymous’ campaign will defend against any individual, organization, corporation, and/or government entity that seeks to hinder the free flow of information on the Internet and beyond. Our methods may appear to be unjustly burdening our targets, but we argue that in this moment when the Freedom of Speech is under attack by the very institutions which are supposed to support it, drastic measures must be taken. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, access to many businesses was blocked as a peaceful protest against segregation. Today much business is conducted on the Internet. We are using the LOIC to conduct distributed denial of service attacks against businesses that have aided in the censorship of any person. Our attacks do no damage to the computer hardware. We merely take up bandwidth and system resources like the seats at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.
Please, do not despise us, as we are not the Anonymous that you may be familiar with. Anonymous’ past is not our present. May we remind you that Anonymous is a dynamic entity. Furthermore, anything attributed, credited, or tagged to Anonymous is not always based on the consensus of us as a whole. Even the document you read now was written by at least ten people simultaneously. Anonymous’ campaign does not intend to harm websites of the individual citizen, organization, or government, that supports the free flow of information. We are here for all of you; to campaign for all of you. Where others have made this promise and failed, we make this promise and aim to keep it for everyone. Anonymous wishes to defend the free flow of information on the Internet and beyond; We would like to ask that you as a citizen, organization, media organization, or government do the same. Any individual, organization, corporation,and/or government entity which supports Freedom of Speech and a free Internet is an ally of Anonymous.
Our method of choosing targets is simple:
We are against anyone who supports censorship, such as those who are responsible for the silencing of Wikileaks.
We are against any entity that work towards the defilement of free speech and/or the free flow of information.
Our request of you is simple.
We ask you to consider the value of your natural Freedoms.
We ask you to consider the value of free information for you and future generations.
We ask you to consider the implications of information censorship, be it through the Internet or physical speech.
We ask you to consider the future of your own human rights, as those who wish to take these rights from you now will not stop with this.
Greetings. We are Anonymous. Due to the misconceptions being propagated, we are setting the record straight.
Anonymous is a diverse collective of individuals focused on securing freedom of speech and information worldwide. Our intent is not to disrupt without cause, but to protect the Internet from the tyranny that government and corporate agencies are now seeking to impose on it. We do this not for ourselves, but to assert the rights of the freedom of speech and information globally. We ask you to support us, not for our sake, but for your own rights. Do not allow governments, corporations or the media to control what you are allowed to see, hear and think.
Many in the media have painted a distorted image of what Anonymous is. The Constitution of the United States is said to be a living document because it can be amended to suit the changing needs of the American people. In that same spirit, Anonymous is a living culture of people and ideas; a growing, shifting entity. Anonymous is any individual, regardless of nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, or creed. Anything attributed, credited, or tagged to Anonymous is rarely based on any consensus of us as a whole–we operate through a democratic meritocracy of ideas, and we follow our own consciences convictions rather than any leader. Anonymous seeks to stand up for truth and transparency and we ask you as an individual, a media organization, or government, to do the same.
During the American Civil Rights movement, activists conducted sit-ins to prevent access to businesses in non-violent protest against segregation. People were certainly inconvenienced and angry as a result, but those non-violent protests were essential to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, many businesses of the world live on the internet, and so the protests too, must move online. Our DDoS attacks are virtual sit-ins, aimed at those entities that have aided in the censorship of information. These actions do no permanent damage or harm: we merely take up bandwidth and system resources, like protestors filled the seats of Woolworth’s lunch counters.
This particular campaign, Operation Payback, is a response to the actions taken against WikiLeaks. A number of the world’s most economically and politically powerful institutions have attempted to destroy the credibility of this organisation and to remove it entirely from the Internet. This repression is done in the name of protecting national interests, but it is actually a way to protect those who are guilty of destroying transparency in an attempt to conceal their own misdeeds from the public. There is no evidence that any individual has come to harm due to the information released. WikiLeaks operates with the co-operation of several press outlets, and have attempted to discuss what should be released with the state department to no avail. It is due to this concerted effort to suppress them that we are standing up for their freedom.
The Internet is the final stronghold of freedom in this increasingly authoritarian world. It is capable of connecting and uniting all of humanity, removing the barriers of language and distance. When we are connected, we are strong. When we are strong, we need not fear tyranny. This is why governments and corporations are moving on Wikileaks. They fear our power when we unite globally; they fear our ability to demand justice. Do not forget this.
This is a historically important moment for the fate of free speech in this emerging information society. These attacks on freedom of expression will have important implications for the future. Our peaceful activism will focus on anyone who intends to infringe on the freedoms of speech and information, regardless of the power they wield. The entities that we campaign against are denying everyone a basic human right. Any person, corporation, government, or other entity that turns against this pattern of censorship, and starts promoting freedom of speech instead, will become our allies. Anonymous wants to educate our opponents rather than hurt them; we are campaigning for freedom for everyone, even those who criticize and attack us. Anonymous’ campaign does not intend to harm the individual citizen, any organization, any website, or government that supports true freedom of speech.
Anonymous urges the people of the world to join in the fight against all forms of censorship, in defense of freedom both online and off. We exist on the fringes of society, both online and off, but if you search for us, you will find us. We will end this note with a final message for those who still intend to continue their campaign against the human rights of freedom of speech, freedom of expression through the press, and freedom of information:
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.