Recently my column has been focusing extensively on the Internet and how almost all aspects of life interact with it constantly. I have been very explicit on how almost anything is possible though the Internet. Consequently, I have recently learned of something that I personally had never considered. The Internet group of so called “hacktivists” known as Anonymous, which in the past has crashed the servers of Mastercard as a form of protest, is now targeting underground criminal organizations.
It is not just going after the drug dealers on the corner either. Last week Anonymous faced off against the Zetas Mexican drug cartel. The Zetas is reputedly the second largest Mexican cartel and has been unceremoniously labeled as the most violent and deadly. The Zetas is an organization of international drug traffickers and habitually kidnap and assassinate anyone who rubs them the wrong way.
The remarkable fact is that, not only did Anonymous challenge one of the most deadly organizations in the world, but it won.
According to MSNBC, this entire affair began when an Anonymous member was kidnapped by The Zetas while he was participating in “Operation Paperstorm.” The purpose of this operation was to inform the general public of Anonymous’ primary platform of the free sharing of information to all by posting paper flyers around cities with logos or manifests that represent the movement.
Upon receiving word of the Anonymous member’s capture, the group responded by threatening to reveal the identities of many people who have operated in collusion with The Zetas. Among the names acquired were those of taxi drivers, journalists, and even law enforcement officials.
The Zetas responded by releasing the captured Anonymous member with the message that if any of names were to be revealed, his family, along with 10 innocent people, would be slaughtered in retribution. Anonymous has agreed not to release the information stating that “The Anonymous collective has decided by consensus not to disclose the information that we have for now, as we understand that we cannot ignore threats involving innocent civilians that have nothing to do with our actions.”
This is an unprecedented event, and I believe it marks the beginning of a new age of activism. Anonymous is a highly decentralized anarchical organization that cannot be targeted because it has no definitive command structure. Members can be anyone from a 13-year-old girl with thick rimmed glasses and pig tails, to a 24-year-old professional sports star to an 87-year-old accomplished author and scholar.
Not only is it a powerful one, but it is also a world-wide phenomena. People look for results, and with today’s impersonalized modern society many people feel that they have become numbers without a voice. Anonymous presents these people with a means through which they may affect change. The group’s recent success in Mexico has not only made it a serious and effective organization, but will also draw many new recruits who are ready and willing to contribute.
Anonymous will continue to grow, and proliferate its ideals of free access to information for all. Put simply, resistance is futile.