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WikiLeaks Sparks Internet War

WikiLeaks Sparks Internet War

In response to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hundreds of Internet activists supportive of Assange but not affiliated with WikiLeaks launched retaliatory attacks on the Web sites of companies like Amazon.com and MasterCard. The targets of the attacks had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks, or in the case of Amazon.com, revoked the use of its computer servers.

The attacks occurred within 12 hours of a British judge’s decision on Tuesday to deny Assange bail. During the hearing Assange refused to provide a home address or other personal details giving the judge very little option but to deem Assange a flight risk.

The fact that the attacks came from individuals sympathetic to Assange but not affiliated with him raises an interesting new problem for those trying to contain WikiLeaks. These supporters are self-described “cyberanarchists,” antigovernment and anticorporate activists who have made Assange a hero. According to reports a group called Anonymous coordinated the attack.

In the past Anonymous singled out other groups for their efforts such as the Church of Scientology. They claimed responsibility for the MasterCard attack in their Twitter stream, announcing the actions were part of a specific campaign called Operation Payback. Operation Payback originally began as a means of punishing companies that attempted to stop Internet file-sharing and media downloads.

It is obvious from the messaging that Anonymous and other Assange supporters see this as a war and they view Assange as a political prisoner. What that means for future information dumps or the ability of WikiLeaks to conduct its activities remains to be seen. The groups targeted for attack were fully operational by late in the day on Wednesday, calling into question the overall effectiveness of the efforts. The attacks definitely drew attention to Assange’s supporters, but what else they accomplished is unclear.

The supporters promise more attacks just like WikiLeaks promises to release more documents making this a true David and Goliath story for the Internet age.

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photo courtesy of espenmoe via Flickr

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94 comments

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4:44AM PST on Dec 17, 2010

America is run by torturing mass murdering war criminals who deserve to be exposed... and in fact should never have been allowed to keep secret their crimes!
That americans continue to support these international war criminals and not prosecute them shows how pathetic american citizens are that they allow it.
Expose them all!
Rip up and burn the cloak of 'national security'
used to cover up crimes for which every american as a citizen becomes personally responsible for!
The only real security is not needing any.
The fact that the exposed info reveals skullduggery begs the question 'How come Americans support their govt?'
How can americans believe torture and mass murder to steal resources is ok?
How can anyone think that such evil should remain concealed?
Shame on all you yanks who support torture, mass murder and concealing such crimes!

11:29AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

A common science fiction theme is where communication is enhanced by a reducing secrecy, by telepathy, visions of distant places, computer hacking etc. But the story usually ends when that condition is established, because it's hard to imagine how society would evolve from there. Is not being able to predict the future why we fear Wikileaks?

What would be your scenario of the future if much more information was revealed, about present and past behavior of the powers that be, at all levels? I tend to see the greatest good being the good of the greatest community, in which we're all interdependent. Would Gaia, humanity and such be harmed, in the short term and beyond, by more openness, or would we evolve global consciousness for the betterment of all levels?

9:27AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

..since some things need to be uncovered that threaten our rights and lives.

9:25AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

1. I hope not Ruth A. Net neutrality would be unconstitutional I think. 2. The gov't and all for that matter, do and plan some messed up stuff that we should know about, helpless as we seem to be. So from my understanding, the whole WikiLeaks thing is kind of inspiring and hopeful that government take-over and their (harmful) secrets will be exposed and maybe stopped. Let's hope and pray.

9:19AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

It's all simple really. ALL gvts have things thaty the general public has no knowledge of and really doesn't need to be seen by them. Do you really want to see our diplomatic missions to other countries endangered by these leaks? And do you really want our diplomats to feel that they can't speak freely because someone might get hold of the diplomatic notes and publish them? Are you that willing, especially when it comes from diplomats in places like N. Korea and Russia and the Arab Emirates? Would you truly deny gvt people the freedom of speech that the rest of us have? What if a note that contained certain not so nice words about someone ended up starting a war? Is that OK because gvt "transperancy" is so vitally important. This is not transperancy, it sounds more like revenge against America.

2:50AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

thank you

8:37PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

I actually agree, partly. I think we can support transparency without supporting WIKILeaks. We can demand that governments maintain better transparency in order to undercut any reasonable support for groups like WIKILeaks. If they were really transparent in general, this would be a clear black-and-white issue, and governments would come out on top.

The only flaw in the logic I just mentioned is that governments do not have to be transparent. They have to appear to be transparent in order to win this one completely. Unfortunately, at least in the U.S. there is a deep culturally-rooted fear of tyranny and suspicion of government so the U.S. might actually not have that option. It's a tough one.

6:56PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

(cont'd)

But as much as I too think that WikiLeaks should be a bit better controlled (of course that still leaves some info in the hands of a few editors, which is also very dangerous if those few are smart) I think this is a scandal that people should jump on on the WikiLeaks side as a demonstration and opportunity, because it has brought people together and it has the potential to bring even more people together. So no, it is not so much about WikiLeaks per se as it is about WikiLeaks as a symbol atm. A little bit like Sakineh: thousands of innocents are killed all over the world every year, so she, personally, is "just" another drop in the ocean statistically speaking (I hate speaking statistically when it comes to human lives), but she became a symbol of the world against the death penalty and against cruelty against women. THAT is why it is so important to save her when the world shuts their eyes over millions of others over the past century. It seems unfair to others in a sense, yes, but this is about more than just Sakineh, it IS about them, it's just that we first have to break a whole in the damn from which we can start dismantling it properly and Sakineh provides that potential point of weakness and concentration of momentum all in one place. And, similarly, this is about way more than WikiLeaks.

And yes, I am aware I am idealistic and too optimistic about this...

6:56PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

Oups, apparently I included some symbol that cut off the rest of my text. Here it is again:

Yes, Steve, I see your point about WikiLeaks being much less than ideal. But by supporting WikiLeaks in the current upheaval, we are still sending a powerful message of just how fed up we are with lack of transparency in government. Of course, I also do admit it is easy to talk from the safety of my home when I am not one of the people whose life has been endangered by WikiLeaks... (continued above)

6:54PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

Yes, Steve, I see your point about WikiLeaks being

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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