The popular ‘hacktivist’ organization, Anonymous, has stated in their most recent video that the US Government is now a target to what may very well be their biggest threat of coercion, a WikiLeaks-style exposure to the US government’s sensitive secrets. This is in response to the tragic death of Aaron Swartz, the 28 year-old programmer and founder of Demand Progress who was facing 35 years in prison for allegedly downloading over 4 million illegal documents from JSTOR.
Anonymous was angered after the death of Swartz on January 11, 2013 in New York where he committed suicide in his apartment. Anonymous, along with the majority of the public, believed that it was the fault of the government and the prosecutors that lead the already depressed and unstable programmer to his death. The day the news broke out of his suicide, Anonymous hacked into MIT’s website to leave Swartz a Tribute.
But Anonymous was not done with their response yet. The penalties that Swartz faced were disproportionate to his allegations and is what lead to the outcry of the public seeking for justice. Anonymous decided to take it into their own account. Their new video demands that new legislations must be made making hacktivist criminal actions no longer a felony. If immediate actions are not made, Anonymous threatens to release embarrassing and incrimination government secrets to the public.
“Citizens of the world, Anonymous has observed for some time now the trajectory of justice in the United States with growing concern. We have marked the departure of this system from the noble ideals in which it was born and inshrined. We have seen the erosion of due process, the dilution of constitutional rights, the usurpation of the rightful authority of courts by the discretion of prosecutors. We have seen how the law has wielded less and less to uphold justice and more and more to exercise control, authority and power in the interest of oppression or personal gain. we have been watching and waiting. Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win, a twisted and distorted perversion of justice. A game where the only winning move was not to play. Anonymous immediately convened an emergency council to discuss our response to this tragedy. After much heavy hearted discussion, the decision was upheld to engage the US Department of Justice and its associated executive branches in a game of a similar nature, a game in which the only winning move is not to play.”
Anonymous will choose one media outlet to release the tarnishing US information in the event that they are ‘forced’ to expose them. The future of the lives of other hacktivists, some even belonging to the group are facing similar unscrupulous sentences as Swartz had. This action will hopefully save those hackers from the current unbalanced justice system. Anonymous usually threatens organizations or groups that they deem injustice for the cause of others and the general public. Indeed, we have seen the work of this powerful hacker group. But, this may be the first that the threat of actions are not just in defense of the good of the people but has now proven to be personal to Anonymous, themselves.