Saturday, January 15, 2011

The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia

Yesterday the Tunisia people overthrew a president that had been more like a dictator for 23 years. This revolution is by no means a settled affair, in fact, it has only begun. While the main struggle took place in the streets, and that's where the people's blood has been shed, an important part of that struggle has also taken place on the Internet and that is the focus of this dairy.

Many are calling this the first WikiLeaks Revolution. That is not without merit. Widespread protests against unemployment and demands for economic relief already had the country in turmoil following the protest suicide of an unemployed college graduate who the police stop from selling fruit without a permit. People already knew that the president and government were corrupt but when WikiLeaks released U.S. State Department cables about Tunisia they had the proof in black and white. The effect was the same as when the little boy shouted that the emperor has no clothes, the struggle turned from economic demands put to the government to a demands for a change in government. The struggle became revolutionary.

News Flash: Anonymous Organizes Global Protest for Today - Jan. 15th Today Anonymous comes out of Cyberspace and into the streets with protests in over 100 cities worldwide. Find your city here.



In support of today's protest they write:
Since its inception, the internet has provided new ways for people all over the world to exercise the rights of free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. These rights are not simply the benefits of a free society--they are the very means of preserving that society's freedom. The recent increase in government interference with these freedoms coincides with the failure of the corporate media to fulfill their vital role in checking the abuse of authority. Censorship and journalistic abdication have left citizens unaware and unable to hold their governments accountable.

WikiLeaks has moved to fill the void left by traditional news media, providing the necessary information for citizens to hold their governments to account. Yet it has not been granted the legal protections generally afforded to journalists. Instead, the organization has been vilified and monetary support has been blocked by governments and private corporations. The vitriol aimed at WikiLeaks demonstrates an unsettling disregard for the fundamental freedom to exchange information and express ideas. Members of a free society must not allow information to be suppressed simply because it inconveniences those in power. We share the responsibility to defend vital liberties. The time to act is now.

We are Anonymous, a leaderless movement that has worked tirelessly to oppose all forms of Internet censorship worldwide, from DMCA abuses to government mandated content filters. Our initiatives include supporting dissenting groups in Iran, Zimbabwe and Tunisia, as well as waging the highly visible information battle against the Church of Scientology. We are now prepared to take the fight to the world stage. Join us on January 15th for the first in a series of global protests in defense of WikiLeaks and freedom of expression. Stand with us to defend your freedoms.

We Are Anonymous And So Are You

ANONYMOUS ACTIVISTS TARGET TUNISIAN GOVERNMENT SITES

The hacker group name Anonymous turned it's attentions to Tunisia after the government there attempted to block WikiLeaks, hi-jacked Tunisian's Facebook and Yahoo accounts and otherwise stepped up interference with people's Internet rights as part of their general crack down on the people.

Anonymous Operation: TunisiaThis is what Technorati had to say about the WikiLeaks connection and the Hacker communities response to the Tunisia situation:
Allegations of the corruption, long suspected by the populace, we’re enhanced by the recent cable releases by Wikileaks. The cables are critical of Ben Ali’s executive policy decisions, cover the First Lady’s actions, and discuss the non-governmental control that Ben Ali’s family exerts over the country.

Compounding the situation was the Tunisian Government’s decision to block its citizen’s access to Wikileaks. Members of Anonymous, the loosely organized network of hackers, have launched attacks at Tunisian Government web sites in retaliation.

This Nigeria forum has a done a lot of reporting on Anonymous. Previously they had reported on the Anonymous campaign against Zimbabwea's Mugabe:

The group also recently targeted the websites of the Zimbabwean government.
...
Those attacks were reportedly in retaliation after the president’s wife Grace Mugabe sued a Zimbabwean newspaper for $15m (£9.6m) over its reporting of a cable released by Wikileaks that claimed she had made “tremendous profits” from the country’s diamond mines.

The attacks, which started in the run up to the New Year, hit the government’s online portal and the official site of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

“We are targeting Mugabe and his regime in the Zanu-PF who have outlawed the free press and threaten to sue anyone publishing Wikileaks,” the group said at the time.
Tuesday they reported on an IRISH WEBSITE ‘HACKED BY ANONYMOUS ACTIVISTS’
The website of Irish opposition party Fine Gael has been hacked, revealing the personal data of 2,000 supporters.

A message posted by the hackers claimed they were part of Anonymous, a group that has carried out attacks against sites perceived to be anti-Wikileaks.
About the Tunisia situation they wrote:
Anonymous activists target Tunisian government sites

Sites associated with Anonymous have also come under attack

Key websites of the Tunisian government have been taken offline by a group that recently attacked sites and services perceived to be anti-Wikileaks.

Sites belonging to the Ministry of Industry and the Tunisian Stock Exchange were amongst seven targeted by the Anonymous group since Monday.

Other sites have been defaced for what the group calls “an outrageous level of censorship” in the country.
The CyberWar goes both ways, they further report:
In a twist, websites associated with Anonymous are also under DDoS attack, according to Netcraft.

The firm said that it had seen attacks against the AnonNews.org site, and the anarchic message board 4Chan, commonly frequented by members of Anonymous.

The attack on 4Chan is the second against the site in the last week.

While Anonymous limited itself to DDOS attacks against Visa, MC and PayPal, they have been more aggressive in the case of Tunisia. For example, they cracked and then posted this to the Tunisian Prime Minister's website (courtesy WL Central) [click to enlarge]:

Anonymous posting on Tunisian Prime Minister's website.
Writing about this Anonymous says:
“We have accessed one of their websites and defaced it by placing our Open Letter to the Government of Tunisia on the main page

“In addition, we have taken steps to ensure that Tunisians can connect anonymously to the internet and access.”
Way ta go Anonymous. You make me proud to call myself a hacker. They brought down the official Tunisian government website. Now the website is back up but the president has been taken down.

The governments are fighting back however, and not just in Cyberspace. The FBI has begun a probe into the Anonymous attacks on PayPal because of their censorship of Wikileaks. You can read the FBI affidavit here.

ANONYMOUS - OPERATION TUNISIA - A Press Release


In AN OPEN LETTER TO: ALL MEDIA they take the media to task:
Dear Journalists,
It has come to our attention that the ongoing riots in Tunisia have by and large escaped the notice of the major Western news networks. It is the responsibility of the free and open press to report what the censored press cannot. The people of Tunisia have asked for our help and we have responded through launching a new operation, Operation Tunisia. We are asking you, the journalists, to respond to the
Tunisians' appeals for assistance at this most troubling time.
...
There has been an almost complete absence of prominent coverage. We ask, why is a news source like Al Jazeera one of the few covering these earth shaking riots while the rest remain quiet? The world is getting the impression that unless western economic interests are involved, our media does not care to report upon it.

They certainly have got that right. When I have to watch Russian Today TV is find out what is happening in the world, it means that now it is the American Media that is being censored and the world has been turned on it's head.

WikiPedia is 10 years old today. Happy Birthday WikiPedia. I could not have done these blogs, or my films, without you.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the 25th birthday of the Internet Engineering Task Force here.

UPDATE: An early picture from the Anonymous protest in Los Angeles. It was, as we often say in the Peace Movement "small but spirited", except nobody from Los Angeles peace movement was there. (but me)
Anonymous in L.A.

Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on this subject:
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!
Free Software & Internet Show Communism is Possible
BREAKING - Digital Sit-Ins: The Internet Strikes Back!
Cyber War Report: New Front Opens Against Internet Coup d'├ętat
Operation PayBack: 1st Cyber War Begins over WikiLeaks
The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next
BREAKING: Goodbye Internet Freedom as Wikileaks is Taken Down
BREAKING NEWS: Obama Admin Takes Control of Internet Domains!
Things Even Keith Olbermann Won't Cover - UPDATE: VICTORY!!!
Stop Internet Blacklist Bill Now!
Sweet Victory on Internet Censorship: Senate Backs Off!
Internet Engineers tell the Senate to Back Off!
Why is Net Neutrality advocate Free Press MIA?
Obama's Internet Coup d'├ętat
Julian Assange on Threat to Internet Freedom
FCC Net Neutrality's Trojan Horse
Free Press: Country Codes for the Internet?
The Mountain comes to Mohammad
Keith Olbermann's Deception
Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal

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