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What do you think of when you think of Guy Fawkes? Maybe you think of a mask, the Gunpowder Plot, ‘V for Vendetta’ or maybe you think of the group, Anonymous. Anonymous is a group of hacktivists who come together on the internet to share important information that the public may not see otherwise.
The group has made huge headlines exposing the Church of Scientology, supporting anti-corruption movements, and has provided a platform for Iranian citizens to criticize their government. One large group that benefits from Anonymous and anonymous information, is WikiLeaks. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is currently facing an American “witch hunt” against him in which the New York Post says, “It’s trying to punish him for leaking American military and diplomatic secrets on his controversial site.”
The question is, how far should one be punished for revealing pertinent, valuable, information? The point of the Anonymous group is to have a safe place to reveal information that one may not be able to release with their name attached to it. Sometimes that is the only way the most important facts can be known.
Anonymous Analytics describes themselves this way:
“We provide the public with investigative reports exposing corrupt companies. Our team includes analysts, forensic accountants, statisticians, computer experts, and lawyers from various jurisdictions and backgrounds. All information presented in our reports is acquired through legal channels, fact-checked, and vetted thoroughly before release. This is both for the protection of our associates as well as groups/individuals who rely on our work.”
The founder, Assange, has currently been told by Swedish officials that he needs to be extradited from the UK where he has been on house arrest for alleged sex crimes. In a speech he made outside of his balcony, he asked that Bradley Manning (a contributor to WikiLeaks who is facing trial soon) be left alone. Manning, a Unites States Army soldier, was arrested in 2010 in Iraq for suspicion of giving classified information to WikiLeaks. He could be incarcerated for “aiding the enemy.” Manning could be seen as an object of treason, or someone who believes in telling the whole truth.
It always seems to be a debate, especially in the field of journalism, if anonymity is “okay” or not. Anonymity can lead to false information, but can also expose information that can change the lives of many people. Anonymous is a group who is challenging power through anonymity. There is a moral issue with this. The public has a right to know this information, but they also have a right to know where the information is coming from and if it is reliable or not.
However, Anonymous seems to be focusing on helping the people, and keeping them aware of what is going on around them. They have dozens of youtube videos, where they expose information and say, “We are Anonymous, we are Legion, we do not forgive,we do not forget, expect us,” as almost a threat to people who are causing harm. In one video, they even tell the U.S. Senate to expect them.
It really says something when a group of people put forth much time and energy into helping the people by researching and exposing groups who are causing harm, and who are not being paid a single cent for it. However, it also means something when they won’t attach their names to it, and are willing to destroy many group’s reputations and people’s lives at the same time.
Image Courtesy of zigazou76