The Ethicality of Anonymous
As I sit down to type this, I can’t help but think of my technological footprint. There’s a cringe worthy Myspace page I made when I was 13 that I’d be embarrassed to find. My internet search history reads something like an intense attention disorder with insomnia and it would span from the interesting to, how did you even think of that? But despite my mostly innocent treks into internetdom, I get a little nervous about Anonymous. Frankly, I think that their presence is a necessary one, but there is something about the organization that does inspire a trickle of fear. Mostly because I understand that it isn’t just the worthy campaigns they go after.
As uncomfortable as government officials are about Anonymous’s hacking, I’m sure they are also relieved that the full force of the organization isn’t leveled at their own personal internet identity. As evidenced by this Washington Times article, Anonymous confirmed responsibility for redirecting a French jihadi website to reroute to a search engine, (Chasmar). While jihads are a more than worthy target, I have to wonder how they have picked some of their other victims. The hacking that Anonymous has done to find paedophiles and users sharing child pornography has almost literally put these users on a silver plate for the F.B.I. and Interpol. But these aren’t the groups that make Anonymous’s online policing an ethical dilemma. It’s some of the Internet’s most hated individuals.
Sarah Palin and Valhalla, a.k.a. Hal Turner are a couple of the cases where I see that their agenda hasn’t been completely ethical. First, Sarah Palin’s email was hacked by Anonymous so they could, “derail her campaign,” (Johnson). I agree that public figures adhere to a kind of scrutiny that isn’t experienced by the rest of the public. But I think that if you’re going to represent Anonymous and hack by guessing the right password, then you don’t have the same kind of intentions that would accompany finding child predators and taking down the Westboro Baptist Church’s Twitter account.
Another unpopular figure, Hal Turner, was a target of Anonymous. While we watched the documentary in class that unfolded this case, I have to argue that the case against him wasn’t totally rooted in doing the moral thing. Hal Turner is a pretty despicable person, and I agree that although he hadn’t broken the law, it takes someone morally bankrupt to spew the hate that he did on his radio show. But I just don't think that disliking someone is grounds for waging war. And Anonymous has a particular scorched earth approach to war that makes it a pretty formidable opponent. Furthermore, in all the hacking that Anonymous has done to Mr. Turner, I don’t think they expected to find that he was a F.B.I. informant. So while all his ranting and raving kind of mobilizes his listeners, he was able to keep an eye on them in a way that the F.B. I. wasn’t. So they basically went after someone who was actually doing something good.
Since these campaigns, I think that Anonymous has evolved as an organization. Instead of attacking personal grudges, I think there is a lot more focus of worthy campaigns, but I think that Anonymous will always be in danger of retrograding if they don’t have the right leadership. But the worst thing for Anonymous would be for their members to be bored. As long as there’s something worth disrupting, I think they’ll be okay.
Chasmar, Jessica. "Anonymous Hacks Terror Website in Retaliation for Charlie Hebdo Attack." Washington Times. The Washington Times, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Johnson, Bobbie. "Sarah Palin vs the Hacker." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 27 May 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.