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This article is the first in a two-part series tracing the development of the amorphous online community known as Anonymous, pranksters who have become a force in global affairs.


Late in the afternoon of Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Justice website vanished from the Internet. Anyone attempting to visit it to report a crime or submit a complaint received a message saying the site was unable to load. More websites disappeared in rapid succession. The Recording Industry Association of America. The Motion Picture Association of America. Universal Music. Warner Brothers. The FBI.

By nightfall, most of the sites had come back online, but the people responsible for the outages had made their point. They’d landed what they hailed as the biggest blow yet in an escalating war for control of the Internet, and in one of their online command centers, “Phoenix” and his associates were celebrating.

Phoenix, a college student, is a member of Anonymous, the loose coalition of hackers, pranksters and other creatures of the Internet who have made headlines over the last 13 months for attacks on the computer systems of a wide range of targets: MasterCard, Visa and PayPal; the San Francisco public transit system; a Texas think tank; Sony; a host of computer-security companies; authoritarian governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

Phoenix wouldn’t call himself a “member,” of course. Much like Occupy Wall Street, a movement with which it has many ties, Anonymous technically has no official membership, hierarchy or specific agenda. Some “anons” do wield more influence than others and the resulting resentments have led to bitter internecine feuds, but its overall lack of an official power structure is essential to its identity and perhaps its survival. As Anonymous put it in a taunting statement to NATO, another recent object of its unfriendly attentions, “You can’t cut off the head of a headless snake.”

The snake seems to have a certain sense of direction, however, as the Jan. 19 attacks suggested. The inciting incident took place earlier that day in the hills outside Auckland, New Zealand, when local police landed two helicopters on the lawn of a man who calls himself Kim Dotcom and owns Megaupload, a hugely popular online service that enables people to share and store movies and other media for free.

Authorities shut down the site and arrested Dotcom and six colleagues, accusing them in a 72-page indictment of engaging in acts of “massive worldwide online piracy” that inflicted $500 million in damages on copyright holders while bringing in more than $175 million in profits.

The news spread quickly. A message went out on Anonymous Twitter accounts exhorting people to attack the Justice Department and several piracy-fighting trade groups. By clicking on a link, they could launch a page that asked them to identify a target. Thousands typed in the address of the Justice Department site and clicked enter, bombarding it with a fusillade of meaningless commands. Overwhelmed, the site froze and dropped offline.

In the chat network where Anonymous coordinated the attacks, the virtual warriors declared victory with a military phrase: “TANGO DOWN.”

Part war, part game. Given the culture of the Internet, it’s reasonable to assume that many of those who responded to Anonymous’ call were teenagers. The software used to fire these Internet missiles was the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, a name lifted from the video game “Command & Conquer.” Yet the consequences of firing it were real — a major law enforcement agency’s web site was temporarily crippled, leaving the agency to observe that there had been a “degradation in service.”

Last year, 14 anons were arrested in the United States for using the Ion Cannon to attack PayPal. Some now face the possibility of 15-year prison sentences.

Phoenix wasn’t around when the Jan. 19 attack went down, but later that night, I found him in an Anonymous chat room and asked him to explain the motivations behind it.

"You’ve heard Anons say before that this is a war," he said. "A full scale information war. That’s not mere propaganda, many regard that as a perfectly accurate description. And the stake at play is, simply, ‘Who will control access to information? Everyone or a small subset?’"

In case it wasn’t clear, he then labeled that subset: “The government.”

THE WAR


This struggle for control of the Internet goes back years, but it reached a crescendo just the day before the attack on the Justice Department, when Wikipedia went dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, the controversial anti-piracy bills that were working their way through Congress. Google collected 4.5 million signatures on a petition against the bills. Mozilla redirected traffic from its sites. And thousands of other protesters, from Tumblr and WordPress to Some Guy with a Blog, blacked out their sites, took to the streets and posted messages opposing the legislation, saying it would hurt their business and amounted to censorship.

Across the battle lines stood film studios, music labels, pharmaceutical companies and other businesses intent on defending their copyrighted property from illegal sharing at a time when the Internet has made it possible for, say, a digital copy of “V For Vendetta” — an anon fave and the source of their iconic grinning Guy Fawkes masks — to travel from an iPad in the United States to a piracy site in Brazil to another viewer’s laptop in Korea.

These companies have faced a tricky problem: How do you sue a piracy site when it’s based in another country, especially one with looser intellectual-property laws? The bills’ answer: You don’t. You go after their enablers — websites that drive traffic to the piracy sites by posting links to them, even if they only do so inadvertently. Critics argued that the cost of getting rid of these links would drive smaller sites out of business.

Two days after the protests, in the face of public outrage and lobbying efforts from the tech sector, Congress shelved SOPA indefinitely. But that doesn’t mean the war is over. As one Anonymous tweet warned about SOPA: “It can be brought back anytime. The bill must be KILLED.”

Like the web companies involved in the protests, anons tend to argue that anti-piracy legislation could send the Internet down an ever-tightening spiral of government control. Many anons go further, portraying such bills as deliberate assaults on the right to free speech. They say they oppose anti-piracy efforts on idealistic grounds, not that they don’t enjoy a bit of pirated entertainment from time to time. In general, obeying the law isn’t their priority. “The Internet is the Wild West,” Phoenix said on the night of the attacks, “and Anonymous will fight against any attempt to tame it.”

That conversation with Phoenix was not my first. All of our communications took place online, mostly in the networks of chat rooms where anons plan their attacks, and I had come to think of him a messenger from the Internet underworld: He had one foot in the world of “hax0rs” — hacker-speak for hackers — and one in the world of capital letters and correct spelling.

He was like a hacker Hermes, moving freely between the realms of the living and the dead, except that in this case the realm of the dead was a dominion of cyberspace in which the dead possessed an unusual degree of expertise in massively multiplayer online video games and porn.

Altogether, I spoke with more than 30 anons, and in some respects, their attitudes couldn’t have been more different, but one thing seemed to hold them together. They saw the Internet as their homeland, their home. Among them were Phoenix, Xyzzy and Gregg Housh. Together, their stories roughly trace the rise of Anonymous and the battles leading up to what Phoenix calls the war……..

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Click Here to Continue Reading…….

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Courtesy of  of the Huffington Post

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The Day The LOLcats Died


SOPA and PIPA are two examples of recent legislation that is lethal to the internet as we know it. The internet rose up and is on its way to successfully fighting them off, but we need to stay vigilant. 

 

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Who’s officially on the record backing what could be the worst thing to ever happen to the internet? All of these companies listed below. Don’t take our word for it—this list comes straight from Congress. Just FYI.

If you want to get in touch, we’ve provided a contact list below. Maybe you want to let them know how you feel about SOPA.

60 Plus Association: info@60plus.org

ABC: http://abc.go.com/site/contact-us

Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP): 703-539-ASOP (2767)

American Federation of Musicians (AFM): presoffice@afm.org

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA): (212) 532-0800

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP): atoczylowski@ascap.com

Americans for Tax Reform: ideas@atr.org

Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States: iatsepac@iatse-intl.org

Association of American Publishers (AAP): asporkin@publishers.org

Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies: bob@mcconnell.net

Association of Talent Agents (ATA): rnoval@agentassociation.com

Baker & Hostetler LLP: dholcombe@bakerlaw.com or rokada@bakerlaw.com

Beachbody, LLC: http://beachbody.custhelp.com/app/ask

BMI: newyork@bmi.com

BMG Chrysalis: info@bmg.com

Capitol Records Nashville: ann.inman@emimusic.com and brent.jones@emimusic.com

CBS: http://www.bctd.org/Contact-Us.aspx

Cengage Learning: (800) 354-9706

Christian Music Trade Association: 615-242-0303

Church Music Publishers’ Association: (615) 791-0273

Coalition Against Online Video Piracy (CAOVP): (212) 485-3452

Comcast/NBCUniversal: info@comcast.com

Concerned Women for America (CWA): (202) 488-7000

Congressional Fire Services Institute: update@cfsi.org

Copyhype: http://www.copyhype.com/contact/

Copyright Alliance: info@copyrightalliance.org

Coty, Inc.: http://www.coty.com/#/contact_us

Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB): (703) 276-0100

Council of State Governments: membership@csg.org

Country Music Association: communications@CMAworld.com

Country Music Television: info@cmt.com

Covington & Burling LLP: http://www.cov.com/contactus/

Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP: info@cdas.com

Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.: law@cll.com

Directors Guild of America (DGA): (310) 289-2000 or (800) 421-4173

Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.: (212) 633-4400

Elsevier: T.Reller@elsevier.com

EMI Christian Music Group: (615) 371-4300

EMI Music Publishing: (212) 492-1200

ESPN: http://espn.go.com/espn/contact?lang=EN&country=united%20states

Estée Lauder Companies: (212) 572-4200

Fraternal Order of Police (FOP): pyoes@fop.net

Go Daddy: (480) 505-8800

Gospel Music Association: service@gospelmusic.org

Graphic Artists Guild: president@gag.org

Hachette Book Group: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/customer_contact-us.aspx

HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide: feedback2@harpercollins.com or (212) 207-7000

Hyperion: http://www.hyperionbooks.com/contact-us/

Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA): http://www.ifta-online.org/contact

International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees: See Artists and Allied Crafts

International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC): iacc@iacc.org

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW): (202) 833-7000

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: http://www.teamster.org/content/contact-us

International Trademark Association (INTA): customerservice@inta.org or
communications@inta.org

International Union of Police Associations: iupa@iupa.org

Irell & Manella LLP: info@irell.com

Jenner & Block LLP: (312) 222-9350

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP: http://www.kelleydrye.com/contacts/index

Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP: (310) 556-2700

Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP: info@kwikalaw.com

L’Oreal: (212) 818-1500

Lathrop & Gage LLP: http://www.lathropgage.com/contact.html

Loeb & Loeb LLP: http://www.loeb.com/Firm/Contact/

Lost Highway Records: (615) 524-7500

Macmillan: (646) 307-5151

Major County Sheriffs: jrwolfinger@mcsheriffs.com

Major League Baseball: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/help/contact_us.jsp

Majority City Chiefs: dstephens@carolina.rr.com

Marvel Entertainment: (212) 576-4000

MasterCard Worldwide: (800) 622-7747

MCA Records: communications@umusic.com

McGraw-Hill Education: customer.service@mcgraw-hill.com

Minor League Baseball (MiLB): customerservice@website.milb.com or
webmaster@minorleaguebaseball.com

Minority Media & Telecom Council (MMTC): info@mmtconline.org

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP: http://www.msk.com/contact/

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA): contactus@mpaa.org

Moving Picture Technicians: See Artists and Allied Crafts

MPA – The Association of Magazine Media: mpa@magazine.org

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): manufacturing@nam.org

National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators: (518) 432-1100

National Association of State Chief Information Officers: svaughn@AMRms.com

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA): webmaster@ncta.com

National Center for Victims of Crime: http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?
dbID=DB_Contact764

National Crime Justice Association: info@ncja.org

National District Attorneys Association: (703) 549-9222

National Domestic Preparedness Coalition: info@ndpci.us

National Football League: http://www.nfl.com/contact-us

National Governors Association, Economic Development and Commerce Committee:
webmaster@nga.org

National League of Cities: http://www.nlc.org/about-nlc/contact-nlc

National Narcotics Offers’ Associations’ Coalition: rmsloan626@verizon.net orhttp://www.natlnarc.org/default.aspx?page=1011

National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA): http://sheriffs.org/content/contact-us

National Songwriters Association: http://members.nashvillesongwriters.com/
webform.php?ViewForm=1

National Troopers Coalition: info@ntctroopers.com

News Corporation: web.queries@computershare.com

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP: http://www.pbwt.com/contact/

Pearson Education: http://www.pearsoned.com/contacts

Penguin Group (USA), Inc.: ecommerce@us.penguingroup.com

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: newsroom@phrma.org

Phillips Nizer, LLP: http://www.phillipsnizer.com/about/contact.cfm

Pfizer, Inc.: https://www.pfizer.com/contact/mail_general.jsp

Proskauer Rose LLP: info@proskauer.com

Provident Music Group: (615) 261-6500

Random House: ecustomerservice@randomhouse.com

Raulet Property Partners: http://www.raulet.com/HTM%20Stuff/ContactUs.htm

Revlon: http://www.revlon.com/Revlon-Home/Revlon-General/Contact.aspx

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP: http://www.rkmc.com/Contact.aspx

Scholastic, Inc.: http://scholastic.custhelp.com/app/ask

Screen Actors Guild (SAG): saginfo@sag.org

Shearman & Sterling LLP: website.administration@shearman.com

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP: (212) 455-2000

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP: info@skadden.com

Sony/ATV Music Publishing: info@sonyatv.com

Sony Music Entertainment: http://hub.sonymusic.com/about/feedback.php or http://
www.sonyatv.com/index.php/contact

Sony Music Nashville: http://www.sonyatv.com/index.php/contact

State International Development Organization (SIDO): sido@csg.org

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO): nato@natodc.com

The Perseus Books Groups: (800) 343-4499

The United States Conference of Mayors: info@usmayors.org

Tiffany & Co.: http://press.tiffany.com/Customer/Request/ContactUs.aspx

Time Warner: http://www.timewarner.com/contact-us/

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC): info@ufc.com

UMG Publishing Group Nashville: (615) 340-5400

United States Chamber of Commerce: http://www.uschamber.com/about/contact/submit-
question

United States Tennis Association: https://forms.usta.com/usta/form325815541/
secure_index.html
 or memberservices@usta.com

Universal Music: communications@umusic.com

Universal Music Publishing Group: umpg.newmedia@umusic.com

Viacom: http://www.viacom.com/contact/Pages/default.aspx

Visa, Inc.: https://corporate.visa.com/utility/contactus.jsp

W.W. Norton & Company: (212) 354-5500

Warner Music Group: http://www.wmg.com/contact

Warner Music Nashville: http://www.warnermusicnashville.com/contact

White & Case LLP: http://www.whitecase.com/ContactUs.aspx

Wolters Kluewer Health: customerservice@lww.com

Word Entertainment: wordtech@wbr.com

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that domain names belonging to Wikipedia and Wikia would be transferred off of GoDaddy, an Internet domain registrar, to protest GoDaddy’s support for the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial anti-piracy bill under consideration by Congress.

"I am proud to announce that the Wikipedia domain names will move away from GoDaddy. Their position on #sopa is unacceptable to us," Wales wrote in a tweet. He later added, “Wikia is also moving several hundred domains from godaddy. Which registrar has quality and price right?”

GoDaddy has been hemorrhaging domains in a backlash against the company’s endorsement of SOPA. Though GoDaddy said in a blog published December 20 that it was withdrawing its support for SOPA, GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman acknowledged in a subsequent interview with TechCrunch that the company had not yet officially registered with Congress its plans to switch sides.

According to VentureBeat, GoDaddy has lost more than 37,000 domains in total. Other companies that have joined in the exodus include the Cheezburger Network, which runs popular sites such as FAIL Blog, Failbook and I Can Has Cheezburger. Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh tweeted, ”Not happy with @godaddy. Emailed CEO, asking for clear, unequivocal dropping of SOPA support. Still planning on moving off.” Commenters on Reddit have also called for a GoDaddy boycott and one Reddit user suggested December 29 should be “move your domain away from GoDaddy day.”

The Next Web writes that GoDaddy has been “calling customers, begging them to stay,” noting that one customer shared an anecdote about a conversation with a GoDaddy representative in which the company’s rep attempted to clarify GoDaddy’s stance on SOPA.

Wales previously contemplated protesting SOPA with a Wikipedia blackout 
that would have seen many or all English-language Wikipedia pages taken offline.

"A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track," Wales wrote on Wikipedia. “My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case.”

The Huffington Post    

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