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From Anonymous To Shuttered Websites, the Evolution of Online Protest

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the screaming-into-the-abyss dept.

The Internet 82

silentbrad sends this excerpt from the CBC: "The days of screaming activists marching with signs in hand to voice their displeasure at a particular politician are changing rapidly – just ask Vic Toews. Canada's public safety minister was the latest in a string of public-policy lightning rods to feel the wrath of Anonymous, a loose coalition of web-based activists who went after Toews for his overly vociferous promoting of the government's online surveillance bill. ... Graeme Hirst, a professor of computational linguistics at the University of Toronto, says that while Anonymous does share some properties of older protest movements, sometimes its motives can be called into question. 'It's a kind of civil disobedience, so we can immediately make analogies to the Civil Rights movement of the '60s,' Hirst said in an interview. 'On the other hand, it's not entirely clear that Anonymous is as altruistically motivated as those protests were.' ... Hirst viewed the January showdown as 'the first legitimate online protest' that was really only about the online world and suggested that the key to its success was that it was organized not by individuals but by organizations — and ones with clout. ... Another apparently successful online campaign was the Cost of Knowledge protest started by an international group of researchers in January, following a blog post by Cambridge University math professor Timothy Gowers."

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82 comments

Could it be? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380283)

Frosty piss again???

Re:Could it be? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380789)

Interesting point of view, although I very much feel your suggested form of dirty protest [wikipedia.org] , is somewhat less effective when carried out online. It may well be a form of civil disobedience, but I fear the lack of smellivision capabilities on most computers render it a fairly impotent form of campaigning.....

Re:Could it be? (2)

Nocturnal Deviant (974688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39382035)

The Boston Tea Party was a form of civil disobedience. It helped formed this country.

While I do not partake nor am a member of Anonymous, I do agree with their general premise, as well as the simple fact that quite frankly, nobody else is doing anything that is actually causing a stir and even making the public realize something is wrong.

If the US stays in this general direction for I would say max 50 years, there will be another revolution. All it is going to take is a few sparks, the politicians and corporations have already laid the groundwork.

To me it is almost sad how much this country has squandered away. There was a time when I was really proud to be an American, those times are now few and far between.

Re:Could it be? (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386899)

... quite frankly, nobody else is doing anything that is actually causing a stir and even making the public realize something is wrong.

I'm a little concerned about how many people assume that the public is "uniformed" or "asleep", and they just need to be "woken up". EVERYONE knows that things are wrong, but we've had decades of civil disobediance and the bastards still seem to get back into power. I'm becoming convinced that the lasting solution is to try and do as much as possible around the bastards and make them as irrelevant as possible. "'Tis easier to ask for forgivness than permission."

little man vs. business (5, Interesting)

CimmerianX (2478270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380375)

>>Hirst viewed the January showdown as 'the first legitimate online protest' that was really only about the online world and suggested that the key to its success was that it was organized not by individuals but by organizations

So when big entities and businesses want to protest, that's fine.
When the little man wants to protest via non-violent, civil disobedience, that's not only illegal (by design all civil disobedience is illegal), but it's also immoral and evil??

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380537)

Except "Anonymous" is not being civilly disobedient. They're being a band of thugs whose cause most internet users just happen to agree with.

Re:little man vs. business (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380607)

based on what, exactly? What makes them thugs?

DDOS'ing a website? Because that is actually called civil disobedience.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385047)

Yes, attacking someone you don't like makes you a thug.

Re:little man vs. business (3, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380693)

Civil disobedience usually results in a slight inconvenience, a small percentage of lost profits, and most importantly, high visibility for the chosen cause.

A DDoS, document theft, or slander campaign results in a destroyed career, ruined business, and a poorly-edited headline on a nerd's news site.

Anonymous is as much an activist group as I am a turnip.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380751)

DDoS generally qualify as a slight inconvenience, esp against big sites and agencies.

Re:little man vs. business (4, Insightful)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381715)

Civil disobedience isn't just disruption. Civil disobedience entails the breaking of laws such that one's subsequent arrest/prosecution can reveal the injustice of those laws to the public, which then brings about a change in the social/political atmosphere, leading to progress. The intent of black students to sit in white only restaurants was not to punish those restaurant owners who may have supported segregation laws; their intent was to put a spotlight on the unequal treatment despite claims of "separate but equal." That's how you practice civil disobedience -- by targeting specifically unjust laws, breaking them, and exposing them to the public

Now compare with Anonymous, what laws did they break in an attempt to reveal their injustice? They only broke fraud and network intrusion laws. Does that mean they were against fraud and network intrusion laws out of the belief that those laws were unjust? There is no way one can logically compare Anonymous with historical examples of civil disobedience.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385065)

Also Anonymous by its very definition is a cowards movement. These people have no intention of being caught and held to account.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386713)

What kind of brain dead idiot would intend to get tossed in the gulag, and likely tortured?

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386881)

People like Gandhi and Nelson Mandella and Martin Luther King who stood up for what they believe.

Anonymous are nothing more than criminals running from the law.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386981)

People like Gandhi and Nelson Mandella and Martin Luther King who stood up for what they believe.

Mandela certainly and Gandhi afaik didn't intend to get tossed in a dungeon. MLK did plan and participate in some intentional arrests. They were very public arrests, a useful tactic in that time and context for gaining public support. The arrested protesters were rarely given long sentences, and always tried in open court. There is no reason at all to suppose Dr King would have wanted himself or anyone else tossed in the gulag for years.

Anonymous are nothing more than criminals running from the law.

Did you have to work overtime because of a DDoS attack or something?

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387001)

Did you have to work overtime because of a DDoS attack or something?

Nope, but neither do I work overtime for the bank getting held up down the street.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387027)

Oh c'mon, you know that's a totally bogus analogy. More like a bunch of hippies holding each others arms and blocking the door to the bank. Annoying as fuck if you're the bank manager or you need to make a deposit, but not even slightly similar to armed robbery.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387079)

I never made such an analogy.
I never said they were the same thing, only that the effect on me is the same.

Your straw-man failed.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387109)

I never said they were the same thing, only that the effect on me is the same.

Actually you didn't say that either. You just asserted that neither anonymous internet users nor bank robbers cause you work overtime. Congrats on that, I guess.

Re:little man vs. business (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380753)

DDoS does not destroy careers or ruin businesses. That's ridiculous. At most it may incur a small loss of profits for that 1 day, which fits your definition of "civil disobedience".

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381011)

I take it you've never been on the receiving end of an attack, then? Management doesn't likely understand details. All they know is that the public website was down for several hours, and the IT department hardly did anything about it. Blame gets passed and people get fired. Then there's the trickle-down effect, where not only does Mastercard (for example) suffer problems from having services out, but every mom-and-pop vendor that processes credit cards through them can't take payments.

Part of what makes civil disobedience effective is that it's often an appeal to empathy, rather than a threat. There is a certain threshold of trouble, below which the troubled ask "why?", and above which they ask "why me?". A protest filling a courtyard or making a sidewalk busier stays well below that threshold, so passers-by will be more likely to think about the issue being protested. Shutting down service to a site without warning or good explanation is irritating enough to anger people, who won't be inspired to learn (or care) about an issue any further.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381641)

>>>Blame gets passed and people get fired.

Then you work for a shitty company. You should be look forward to working for a better company that understands DDoS attacks cannot really be prevented, anymore than you can prevent a UPS truck carrying an important part from getting T-boned by a careless passenger car driver & the part getting delayed 1-2 days because of it.

Shit happens. Good managers understand this. Lousy managers do not, and if they truly will "ruin your career" because of something beyond your control, then I suggest you quit them as soon as possible. In my last job we were under a tight schedule but missed our target because of a last minute part failure.

The managers did indeed blame the engineers (fired 2 of the 3), instead of the manufacturer for lousy part design, and therefore I will never work for that shitty company again. I now work for a better company with better management. If we had a DDoS I know they wouldn't blame the IT department. They'd blame the outside attacker.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386923)

>>>Blame gets passed and people get fired.

Then you work for a shitty company. You should be look forward to working for a better company that understands DDoS attacks cannot really be prevented

Which company do you work for that has management THAT reasonable??? I wanna apply for a job!!!

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385145)

Anonymous is more of a extortionist outfit.

"Do what we want, or else...."

Re:little man vs. business (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385085)

DDoS is a form of censorship.

Leaking someone's personal information does destroy businesses and careers. In some cases it can even lead to death.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381453)

When you are a politician, you are a public figure. Public figures are, by law, fair targets for public criticism.

Vic Toews is pissing off the entire country, with the exception of a handful of extreme right-wingers and corporatists. He is pushing a bill that is widely perceived as overreaching and unnecessary. He is spreading false truths and flawed analogies to justify his actions, dismissing public opinion, and basically labeling us all as potential criminals who "side with pedophiles".

We've tried to talk sense into him, he isn't listening, he's even saying we're too stupid to understand the issue, so the only logical action is to escalate. If that means DDoS and viral videos, he should be thankful to be living in the age of the internet. Fifty years ago, we'd have hired a fall guy to assassinate him.

Re:little man vs. business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380697)

It's hardly thuggery if everyone agrees with it.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380793)

So it's OK to hang, for instance, a towelhead to a lamppost with barbed wire if everyone is OK with it? Then to piss on its corpse? And to slice his face off, wear it like a mask and go visit his family while wearing his face, if everyone agrees to it?

Re:little man vs. business (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381177)

Before 1865 (and probably for a good while after that) everyone in the Confederate States agreed that slavery was good and the right way to drive their economy. Up to the 1970s many or most in Alabama, Mississippi, and other southern states didn't think civil rights laws were needed or wanted. Majority should be viewed suspiciously when people want to use it as an indicator of what is right in terms of morality and behavior.

Re:little man vs. business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39381289)

Picture some southern rube talking about civil rights protesters and calling them a band of thugs keeping decent folk from their meals. Think about how you compare...

Not to say all Anonymous activities are civil disobedience and/or non-thuggish, but if you think a sit-in isn't exactly a 20th-century DDoS, you just might be braindead.

Re:little man vs. business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39384995)

Except "Anonymous" is not being civilly disobedient. They're being a band of thugs whose cause most internet users just happen to agree with.

As opposed to governments and corporations, which are bands of thugs whose cause most Internet users don't agree with.

Re:little man vs. business (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380553)

It's called ignorance.

Hirst has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.

It's not the organizations that do or can carry the weight, it was the individuals in this case.

In a way, yes. (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381163)

It is the nature of protest. When you fight the system you are fighting what the establishment has established as what is right. Very few evil rules go "Mahahahahahaah", dress in black and have a note in their agenda, be evil. Most evil people thought THEY were the good ones. So, when people fought slavery, they were the terrorists going what was clearly right. Only when they won, did the view change.

History is written by the victors and their is NO definitive version of it, when the victors change, the history will be rewritten again. If you think the persons who you are trying to defeat with your protests are just going to go "oh, we are so wrong, clearly we are evil and all our thoughts and actions are evil so we will stop and do what you want because you are right and good"... well... you might end up disappointed.

And while you are protesting a lot of people standing by the site might get quite upset. Not because they argree with the other side but just because you are causing an inconvenience. Nobody ever mentions the people having to go without their tea in Boston.

Want to be loved for your actions? Win!

Re:little man vs. business (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381975)

Big businesses are people too!
Little men, not so much. That's why we call them "little."

In a nutshell (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380391)

Vic Toews tried to bring in legislation that would allow the police, or any designated authority by the ministry, to spy on any internet communications without a warrant. In an interview, Toews then admitted that he had not actually read the legislation, and tried to lie and say that there were no such provisions in the bill (proposed act of legislation).

Anonymous didn't like this, and decided to spy on Vic Toews, releasing personal information about the Minister of "Public Safety" and his multiple indiscretions, including baby-sitters, mistresses, and judges that he nominated while Minister of Justice.

All the whilst, the Conservative (see "Republican") government is under investigation for election fraud for having identified members of other parties, then sending them robocalls telling them that their polling (voting) location had changed to a ficticious location. This resulted in close ridings (electoral districts) being taken by the Conservatives when elderly voters were unable to find the correct location to vote! (source: CBC News [www.cbc.ca] )

Re:In a nutshell (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380641)

the Conservative (see "Republican") government

Comparing the Conservatives to Republicans is like comparing the tortoise to the hare. The Tories support universal heath care and same sex marriage, so that makes them even more left-leaning than the Democrats socially.

Re:In a nutshell (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380695)

Wrong, and wrong:

1) Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, formerly was leader of the "National Citizens Coalition", a right wing think tank that supports private healthcare. (source: Macleans [macleans.ca]

2) In April, a Conservative Member of Parliament will bring forward a motion that will define a fetus as a "person" and would effectively make abortion akin to homicide. (source: Ottawa Citizen [ottawacitizen.com]

Re:In a nutshell (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381237)

1)Stephen Harper, like all politicians, flip flop more than an IHOP. He may have been against universal heath care in the past but it's only his stance as the leader of the Conservative party that matters in the current discussion.

2) What does abortion have to do with same sex marriage? Why are we discussing future events? Since when does a private member's bill represent his party?

Re:In a nutshell (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39382021)

Stephen Harper, like all politicians, flip flop more than an IHOP. He may have been against universal heath care in the past but it's only his stance as the leader of the Conservative party that matters in the current discussion.

Incorrect. Harper is a brilliant politician (!= leader unfortunately). He goes the way the wind blows. Since he knows opposing universal health care would never get him a majority government (he'd probably even lose his status as prime minister), Considering it's one of the few differentiators over the US, it's one of the things he's had to muzzle his true feelings about.

And private member bills DO matter. If you haven't realized it, everything in the Harper Government is run from the Prime Minister's Office. There is very little independent thought purely because all of it is, effecitvely, censored.

It's how he runs effective election campaigns - Conservative candidates are told they must adhere to the script, which makes them stay on the up and up when all the other candidates are making mis-steps because they're doing unrehearsed announcements.

So we never get a sense of what the party is REALLY doing (it's why people still hold a distrust of him and feel he's hiding something). So when someone speaks candidly or makes an error, everyone pounces on it.

Or why there's huge suspicion about the election - after all, if Harper was completely innocent on the matter, he'd call for some super-inquiry as it would make him look good, and make the opposition (if he was clean, they must've done it) completely guilty and give the Conservatives an overwhelming majority.. Right now he's blocking all attempts, which gives the impression he knows something, and it isn't good on him, but hopefully Elections Canada will be to inept to see any flaws in his hiding of evidence.

Vic Toews... his whole statement was unscripted, which is why it blew up in his face.

Abortion or same sex marriage - we don't know his real position - we know his apparent position (whatever will get him votes), but his real position we can only infer from the odd member's bill put forward.

Re:In a nutshell (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380827)

Republicans support universal health care too. After all they were the ones who originally proposed the "universal insurance purchase" mandate (through the Heritage Foundation). And also passed the Prescription Drug Plan under Bush's watch. And continue to support Medicare/Medicaid.

They don't support same-sex marriage (because most Republican voters are Christians).

Re:In a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380709)

All the whilst, the Conservative (see "Republican")

In their defense, the seance they held to contact the Liberal (see "Democrat") voters didn't cause any complaints.

Re:In a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39381989)

From what I heard, there was no "spying" or "releasing" of information. People simply dug up his divorce court case, and other matters of public record.

Re:In a nutshell (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39384973)

The "Conservatives" of today are, alas, something of a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reform Party, who were really quite far right of the Republicans. The "Progressive Conservatives" were perhaps a little to the center/left relative to the Republicans. It was the PCs who supported universal health insurance and other center-to-left initiatives.

Confusing the two can lead one to self-contradictory conclusions (;-))

--dave

Offer: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380413)

I will give $100 to any card carrying Republicans who undergo a vasectomy in the month of April.

Protests need to mean something. (5, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380421)

The way that a lot of websites blacked out their sites in protest of the SOPA bill was very powerful.
1. They Protested a particular thing.
2. People knew what they are protesting against.
3. The Protest was done at the risk of the protesters. Blacking out your site for a day could loose customers.

Anonymous on the other hand is Stupid protesting.
1. Their protest is sparse and could be about a lot of things possible contradictory.
2. People usually can only guess what they are protesting about.
3. Protesters are hiding under the vale of anonymity so they will not loose their jobs/reputation the next day.

The problem there are just too much stupid protests out there. Not that their goals are not worthy of protesting but they are just stupid in their protest.
When ever an activist group targets to correct too many points they rarely get done.
For example CFC were hurting the Ozone layer. The found a good solution to replace it and they protested to get CFC banned. It was an easy sell.
Carbon is causing global warming... Well we don't have a good way of reducing carbon yet, and protesters are protesting a wide variety of untested methods of reducing carbon, as well they will protest against alternatives such as nuclear.

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380775)

3. Protesters are hiding under the vale of anonymity so they will not loose their jobs/reputation the next day.

Because real-life protestors never wear masks or otherwise conceal their identities!

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381819)

Yes but if they got arrested that mask will be removed. Anonymous is behind many layers making it very hard to be found.

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380799)

We can always hope that Anonymous is like a stupid, weak virus that we can overcome with processes and regulations that are not too restrictive.

Better than getting hit with really bad and dangerous people, then risking the extreme overreaction that is characteristic of the United States and most Western governments.

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381833)

Anonymous as a protest group is a stupid method for causing real change. Not the people are stupid, they just didn't fully think about how doing what they are doing will effect any real change.

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381505)

The way that a lot of websites blacked out their sites in protest of the SOPA bill was very powerful.
1. They Protested a particular thing.
2. People knew what they are protesting against.
3. The Protest was done at the risk of the protesters. Blacking out your site for a day could loose customers.

The way that Anonymous (aka Someone) protests is equally as powerful.
1. They are merely diverse individuals, so it takes many like minded individuals having the same opinion of a particular thing.
2. Nobody know WTF the SOPA protests were about -- Average folk questioned the hell out of me on that day, despite links to the bill... Protip: Big Media is responsible for informing our masses. Guess what? They ALWAYS fail to fill in Joe Sixpack as to the specifics.
3. Anonymous Protests are done at the risk of the protesters. They use the LOIC software which broadcasts your IP address to the site. It's ACTUALLY, equivalent to visiting a page in your browser and putting a weight on your F5 key YES, IT'S REALLY JUST LIKE THAT.

Anonymous on the other hand is Stupid protesting.
1. Their protest is sparse and could be about a lot of things possible contradictory.
2. People usually can only guess what they are protesting about.
3. Protesters are hiding under the vale of anonymity so they will not loose their jobs/reputation the next day.

Both protesting methods are stupid, IMHO.
1. Anonymous AKA Someone's protests are necessarily sparse and could be about a lot of things especially contradictory -- Someone's motives are always disparate. Google and Wikipedia's protests were so damn short and ineffectual as to be laughably ignored and forgotten by EVERY ONE of my associates except the small yet vocal group of my "online" buddies -- Let's have a reality check here folks.
2. People usually can only guess what Someone is protesting about (what Anonymous is protesting) since the individuals who aren't protesting DON'T CARE enough to find out. Many people guessed about what Google and Wikipedia et al were protesting about because they honestly didn't know to click the black banner on Google's site, or give a damn to read Wikipedia's statements (They're not the only source of info on the web -- back buttons exist)
3. Anonymous Protesters are NOT hiding under the vale of anonymity because their IP addresses are being distributed to the endpoints they attack (LOIC does not use a reflective DDOS -- it's distributed denial only because there are so many individuals participating) so they CAN loose their jobs/reputation the next day. All it takes is a reverse DNS lookup, and a phone call to their ISP.

I do agree that there are just too many stupid protests out there. However, I don't think any form of protesting is the answer. It's not clear that voting is the answer either since Lobbyists get their way no matter what. What really needs to happen is that the system gets so fucked and restrictive up that the average person begins to chafe. For example: Music DRM.

FYI: Every time you see the term: Anonymous with relation to the distributed group of online protesters, just replace the name "Anonymous" with "Someone" or "Average Joes" -- That's who they are. It's just random Internet users, Common Folk if you will. When you see "Common Folk" banding together for brief moments to throw a wooden shoe in the gear -- That's social disobedience, Sabotage if there ever was one. Using the topology of the Internet in their favour.

There's no organisation to the protests because that's the nature of the beast. They're so disenfranchised they lash out the only way they actually can. I don't blame them, even if I don't agree with their methods. However, If Google and Wikipedia, and other sites REALLY wanted to put their money where their mouth is they'd start up a collection for a Lobby fund so that we could buy a few congress critters too.

Re:Protests need to mean something. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381841)

Blacking out your site for a day could loose customers.

If you're keeping your customers captive then of course you should loose them. Or did you mean that other verb, "lose"?

Never trust anyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39380463)

Never trust anyone to tell you anything about online protests if they think online protests started in the last decade. If they can't be bothered to research things that happened before then, they aren't very knowledgeable.

Re:Never trust anyone (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380609)

The "release Kevin Mitnick" thing is at least one older online protest I can think of...

People do whatever is easiest to be heard. (2)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380535)

Before, the easiest way to be heard was to walk outside and start screaming with signs.
With the arrival of the internet, it's much easier to have your voice heard, so many of the screams and signs have been digitized.

Re:People do whatever is easiest to be heard. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380651)

It's also easier to censor and spin IRL protests as journalists become increasingly pussified, and the few who aren't are easily ignored by the mainstream news.

the problem is: tactics are neutral (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380595)

this is a great tactic anonymous has pioneered

but what is good for the goose is good for the gander: you could monetize this sort of activity for all sorts of malicious purposes

Ethical DDoS protest (4, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380657)

I think I recall Stallman likening DDoS to a picketing. There do seem to be parallels. I wonder what the ethical and practical implications would be if there were a tool that requested a web page over and over again that only worked when it was visible on screen, only ran one instance per computer, and prompted the user every five minutes? As far as I can tell, that would be as close to an equivalent to a picketing as you could manage online, and it would represent the people who are willing to get involved rather than the computer time people are willing to throw at it. It's true that such a tool would be easily hacked to get around its limitations, however it would be easier to use an illegitimate DDoS tool instead if that's what you wanted.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380807)

I honestly can't see how a DDOS of the particular sort Anonymous uses can be considered illegal.

It would be like a group of a hundred people going into a supermarket one at a time and buying a stick of gum each. Then, once they've completed their purchase they turn around, go back in, and repeat it again. They're not doing anything technically illegal, but it certainly is disruptive.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong due to lack of understanding on the law, so please feel free to enlighten me on the subject...

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39381081)

It would be like a group of a hundred people going into a supermarket one at a time and buying a stick of gum each. Then, once they've completed their purchase they turn around, go back in, and repeat it again. They're not doing anything technically illegal, but it certainly is disruptive.

Except that nobody's buying even the token stick of gum. It'd be more like a group of a hundred people invited from around the world went into a supermarket one at a time and demanded free samples from the deli counter. Then they turned around, left, went back in, and repeated the process. The deli counter quickly runs out of free samples, irritating actual legitimate customers.

When asked why they're doing this, the group of a hundred people all try to answer at once, each one contradicting at least five others, many of them in foreign or invented languages, the most coherent of which are doing nothing but reading off a pre-written script of obscure pop culture references written by an entirely insular group of people, as well as an essay's worth of disjointed statements that require inside knowledge of the commercial refrigerator industry to understand. The legitimate customers don't care much about the commercial refrigerator industry (which is really sad, since the hundred people were actually protesting the company that makes the supermarket's cash registers) and can't possibly hope to understand the infodump from a hundred screaming people at once, but they DO know those hundred people took all the samples from the deli counter.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Woogiemonger (628172) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381127)

I honestly can't see how a DDOS of the particular sort Anonymous uses can be considered illegal.

It would be like a group of a hundred people going into a supermarket one at a time and buying a stick of gum each. Then, once they've completed their purchase they turn around, go back in, and repeat it again. They're not doing anything technically illegal, but it certainly is disruptive.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong due to lack of understanding on the law, so please feel free to enlighten me on the subject...

Well, for starters, they're unlawfully hijacking other computers via their botnet to get the volume of gum purchasers they need. That'd equate to holding those 100 people at gunpoint. And also, they're not actually purchasing anything. It'd equate to the 100 people going in and out of the store without buying anything. Just clogging up the doorway. Lastly, a store owner can legally request the 100 people to leave, and they would not be lawfully allowed to go back in the store nor block it (otherwise police can deal with that). In a DDOS, there's no way to restrict unwanted traffic.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

I Read Good (2348294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39388667)

"In a DDOS, there's no way to restrict unwanted traffic."

Oh yeah?

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385245)

Because the Supermarket can ask you to leave and you can be arrested and charged with a crime for failing to comply. Also you can't do it anonymously without consequence.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385939)

Because the Supermarket can ask you to leave and you can be arrested and charged with a crime for failing to comply.

This is also true for websites. When an HTTP client requests a resource from a server, there are a number of responses it can give. The most usual is 200, which basically means "Okay, here's the content". There are other responses the server could give, such as 403, which basically means "No you can't have it and stop asking". Using your analogy, the server can "ask them to leave" at any time by responding with a 403.

Also you can't do it anonymously without consequence.

Women enter supermarkets near where I live wearing niqabs all the time. Plenty of anti-scientology protests have involved people wearing masks.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386167)

It's quite apparent that these companies don't want to be DDoSed yet anonymous don't respect those wishes. Anyone who knows the basics of the internet will tell you that you cannot block traffic on the internet, which is why DDoS is such a problem.

"Women enter supermarkets near where I live wearing niqabs all the time. Plenty of anti-scientology protests have involved people wearing masks."

and all of those people can be arrested for trespassing or committing any other crime. Wearing a mask doesn't remove your accountability.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39397179)

It's quite apparent that these companies don't want to be DDoSed yet anonymous don't respect those wishes.

Yes, and companies don't like to be picketed either. The point at which it becomes a crime in the real world is when you ask the person to leave your property and they don't. These companies have the exact same facility available to them - they can "ask the DDoSers to leave" by giving them a 403. Typically, they don't, they just keep giving out 200s, which is the equivalent of saying "yes you can stay".

Women enter supermarkets near where I live wearing niqabs all the time. Plenty of anti-scientology protests have involved people wearing masks.

and all of those people can be arrested for trespassing or committing any other crime. Wearing a mask doesn't remove your accountability.

Nor does it automatically become a crime just because you are anonymous. It becomes a crime when you are asked to leave private property and you don't. This is true regardless of whether you are wearing a mask or not.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39401211)

So by your logic companies want to be DDoSed.

Why are they calling in the FBI, I wonder?

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39405017)

No, that's not what I said. How about you try to discuss things rationally instead of jumping at the opportunity to misinterpret my comment in a stupid way?

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39408411)

There's hardly anything worth discussing here. You're really having the scrape the bottom of the barrel for your arguments here.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (2)

staticneuron (975073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381395)

I think I recall Stallman likening DDoS to a picketing. There do seem to be parallels.

The picketing that is allowed is something that is next to the entrance of a business that is informing but not blocking entry and exit to said business. And mainly it has to be off the property of the business because they can hit the protestors with trespassing.

Problem with a DDoS is that it is everything that is NOT allowed in a peaceful picketing. It denies access to a site, Which is the equivalent of blocking the doors to a business. Also any modification of a site is messing with the companies property, which wouldn't be allowed in real life either.

It is about "how" things are done not why.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39386867)

DDoS and defacing a website are different, not necessarily related acts. DDoS doesn't leave any lasting damage, it just annoys the target and potentially costs them business. Defacing a site is intrusive, and reasonably analogous to vandalism in the physical world.

A hotel down the street is having a protracted dispute with a labor union. Every work day, all day long, there are picketers with a bullhorn standing in front of the hotel. They chant loudly ("don't check in - check out!") and shout personal insults at hotel guests. Yes, they do stay on the public sidewalk, and do not physically block access to the hotel. But there is no doubt they are very annoying to anyone staying/working there, and they certainly cost the hotel business.

Problem is, picketing is an imperfect analogy for DDoS attacks. The internet has no "public sidewalk" for protesters to stand on, making their message heard loudly & clearly, yet without blocking access.

A better analogy is the flashmob. Suppose a few thousand union sympathizers showed up at this hotel, each went inside and politely asked the desk clerk a pointless question, then left. None of them wearing masks or anything silly like that - all just anonymous Random Joes, indistinguishable from a legitimate customer. A thousand people lined up to get in the hotel would effectively prevent it from doing business - and I bet it would be super annoying to the clerk. I don't know what the Law would say about this kind of protest.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

staticneuron (975073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387561)

Problem is, picketing is an imperfect analogy for DDoS attacks. The internet has no "public sidewalk" for protesters to stand on, making their message heard loudly & clearly, yet without blocking access.

By definition a DDoS attack... a distributed denial-of-service attack, is intended to block access. It is more akin to picketers actually blocking the entrance of a hotel while on a public sidewalk. That is not legal in the real world and certainly isn't legal online either.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387649)

Again tho, the picketing analogy isn't exactly accurate. There is no public sidewalk, no intermediate state between doing nothing and blocking access to the facility. If we want the Law to be reasonable, to find a consensus between the many strands of mainstream thought, then how are annoyances like this to be handled? I'm inclined to think of it as a minor infraction, much like jaywalking. Yes, Joe Random shouldn't fire the LOIC at websites he hates - and yes, Joe Random shouldn't cross the street mid-block. Roughly the same level of societal transgression in my evaluation.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

staticneuron (975073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387777)

The internet itself is the sidewalk. An example of pciketing on this sidewalk is creating your own site or another method/rallying cry against said business. Facebook, youtube, and many other forms of social media are extremely powerful tools to get the message out.

Whether blocking access irl or online, chances are it coste someone money. And there is no minor infraction when someone takes something from you or costs you your time as an individual. Why would businesses or small user created sites be any different?

I don't buy that DDoS os the nly meaningful way and I doubt such a harmful action is reasonably viewed by most as the same harmless actions of picketing or jaywalking.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39387841)

But the internet isn't like a sidewalk at all. Jokes aside, it really is more like a series of tubes.

It is more or less impossible to enter the hotel I have described during business hours without encountering the unionists, and being exposed to their message. Yet suppose you wish to protest webstie Foo and to do so you set up website Bar. This is not analogous, because one may visit site Foo without the slightest awareness of Bar's protest.

Honestly I think DDoS is an even less effective protest technique than sitting down on a freeway ramp during rush hour. Both mostly annoy people, without making a clear political point. But both are obviously political speech, and should either be outright permitted, or at most punishable by a $20 fine. And it's my really nice, reasonable, consensus-oriented side that says $20 fine just to appease you fascists.. and we all know what happens when you start appeasing fascists.

Re:Ethical DDoS protest (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39385753)

I think you're conflating one of the practical realities of picketing (it takes time away from other things) with the goal of picketing (to disrupt operation and make people aware of an issue).

There's no reason why an online picketing campaign needs to abide by obsolete practical aspects of physical picketing. In the online world, you could picket several different websites simultaneously on different issues, if you liked. That's something that's impossible in the physical world.

Motivations (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380667)

Does it matter if Anonymous is less altruistic than the Civil Rights Movement? The important thing is that they're more altruisitic than our political, economic, and social leaders.

Re:Motivations (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381907)

But there hasn't been any evidence of altruism on the Anonymous side has there? If anything they've proven to be just as self-serving, albeit with different agendas. But the way I look at it, someone might prefer turd burgers to shit sandwiches, but most would say "that's not a choice I want to make."

WTF? (1)

Rysc (136391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39380855)

Whoever said Anonymous was altruistically motivated? The motivation is individual self interest.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39381449)

All motivation comes from self-interest. The motivation is irrelevant, though, as long as the results are desirable.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39388129)

Whether the actions of Anonymous are altruistic or not, actions like theirs will only give politicians more support for censorship, monitoring and internet firewall legislation.

Organizations did not organize this (1)

Na3blis (2597123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39381199)

"it was organized not by individuals but by organizations — and ones with clout"
Couldn't be more wrong. Yes, Wikipedia and Google joined in the protest, but it was in no way organized by them. It was organized by individuals on sites like Reddit, and Techdirt and Slashdot, etc

Hur Dur we are all legion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39381637)

What does Anon have to do with some liberal party staff member?

Casue they had leak in the name? Hur Dur we are all legion.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/27/liberal-staffer-resigns-over-vikileaks-controversy-bob-rae/

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