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Op-Ed: Anonymous declare February 10 D-Day in war on Scientology

By Paul Wallis     Feb 7, 2008 in Internet
The group Anonymous, who recently started attacks on the Church of Scientology, have said February 10 is the day for a worldwide protest. In an ad on YouTube, the group, which has been hacking Scientology databases, declared war.
It’s a moot point. Even when it’s an organization which many people loathe, this is vigilante stuff, which could be turned against anyone. I’m no great admirer of the Church of Scientology, but people are supposed to have rights.
The group’s statement, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, is pretty self explanatory:
The apparent catalyst for the attack was YouTube's decision to remove a video of Hollywood star Tom Cruise - one of Scientology's most high-profile recruits - espousing the religion's virtues after the church asked that it be pulled.
"Anonymous has therefore decided that your organisation should be destroyed, for the good of your followers, for the good of mankind, and for our own enjoyment," the statement says.
"We shall proceed to expel you from the internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form," it continues.
The Church requested Cruise’s video be taken down because it was being used as a send up. Hence the reaction.
This isn’t quite as funny as it ought to be. There’s been a few other developments, which indicate something other than pure humor in the group’s methods. SMH again:
The message, read by a computerised voice and set against a grey cityscape, finishes with the ominous statement: "We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."
Last week several major Scientology websites crashed in the United States and Britain. The FBI was asked to investigate after envelopes of white powder were sent to 19 Scientology churches in the Los Angeles area
The YouTube video is pretty specific about what it doesn't like about Scientology. Some of it is fairly commonplace criticism of the Church and its methods.
However, there's a tone of threat which looks like something a lot deeper. The white powder, as a hoax, would be in pretty dubious taste under any circumstances. That's a physical threat, not an ideological threat.
Meaning that the methodology is moving into hardcopy form. The computerized voice means no voice print. The bit about who they are is designed to intimidate. Some of this is bordering on frat level, but some of it isn't.
One theory getting around is that Anonymous isn’t a “group” as such, but a message board thing, invading sites on call. Some of it is apparently getting organized through Facebook.
A bit like starting the French Revolution through Wal Mart, but after the Revolution came the Terror.
As one commentator said,
"They are anonymous message boards, which means they can post anything without fear of reprisal," the analyst, who asked not to be named, said.
"They'll do something like all join a Ku Klux Klan website at once and stuff it up
The Herald article points out that this method could be used as an excuse to increase government crackdowns on the internet, and the end of internet anonymity.
Not that the idea has a hope of working, but it could produce some more nasty little security laws. The same kind which have been so effective against apparently everyone but terrorists.
There’s a much worse possibility.
Shown how, every nutcase on the net could become a one man war, and recruiter.
The average hacker, and some of them are pretty average, doesn’t invent his own software, or writer her own virus program. A lot of it is off the shelf stuff, usually semi-obsolete, pretty easy to handle.
One of the reasons hackers aren't the plague they could be is because the real hackers are relatively few.
Turn it into a crusade, make it a “culture”, and it could do a lot of damage.
As it is, hackers have crashed medical databases, NASA, etc, on a sort of random occasional rampage.
It’s one thing to fight against tyranny and injustice.
It’s another to just pick a target, go hand out the ammunition, and see what happens.
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