Our picks for this week’s Truthdiggers are a little unusual in that we don’t really know who they are—at least not specifically. But we do know them by their collective, if faceless, alias: Anonymous. And more important, we know them by the artful and provocative acts of cyberpunkery they keep pulling off despite crackdowns and arrests.
Anonymous is composed of a team of skilled hackers who are clearly also quite publicity savvy, able to perform feats of culture-jamming both online and off without tipping into silly territory or taking cheap shots at symbols of authority just for the sake of a good prank. (All the same, their pranks tend to be good.)
But this week, the highly coveted Truthdigger honor goes to the members of this rogue network—the ranks of which were at least temporarily thinned earlier in the week by a coordinated Interpol sting—for their work in “exposing the global trade in intelligence,” as The Guardian put it. More to the point, Anonymous teamed up with WikiLeaks to pass along some 5.5 million emails, news of which began hitting the wires last Sunday, lifted from the servers of the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. Here’s more on that hack-and-leak operation.
WikiLeaks said the documents contained details of the inner workings of the private intelligence agency, links between government and private intelligence, and commentary on WikiLeaks itself.
“The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks,” the whistleblower website said.
“There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States.”
The email cache is said to contain information on measures taken to track activist and NGO activity for large companies, through media monitoring, and information on the financial sector.
The hacking attack on Stratfor is subject to an FBI investigation. Several alleged members of Anonymous have been arrested by authorities in the US and UK as part of investigations.
Although some disagree, such as The Christian Science Monitor’s Dan Murphy, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange broke down the significance of the Stratfor project thusly.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Reuters: “Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the U.S. government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations and journalists.”
“What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organizations fighting for a just cause.”
Good thing there’s this group to act as a countervailing force. We’ll look forward to further meddling by Anonymous in the international corporate arena in the future. Meanwhile, read and watch more about its other campaigns here, here and here.