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article imageDutch digital activist discusses Anonymous in depth Special

By Justin King     Nov 25, 2013 in World
As the Anonymous collective branches out into public street-level operations and gains momentum, a digital activist discusses some of the philosophy and strategy behind the online activities of the movement.
Dutch Anonymous-affiliated digital activist, Jos de Mooij, answers questions lifting the veil on hacktivism. He shares his opinions on the Million Mask March, street activism under the Anonymous flag, some philosophical ideas inherent in Anonymous, and the Jeremy Hammond sentence. Meanwhile, he certainly does not speculate on the Anonymous response to that sentence.
The Interview:
To start, if you could provide me with as much background information about yourself as you are willing to share with the public.
Indeed... Better dox myself before anyone else feels inclined to do so. I live in Holland and I am a mechanical engineer. I also did business education on top of that. Then I got attracted to information technology and landed in the field of business intelligence where I worked many years for top 100/500 companies (the big corporations) and for governments as well. This is crucial to understand what I do, why I do it and how I do it. Business intelligence is about combining raw data and information elements into "actionable" information. This is also true with regard to social media data.
But all alarm bells started ringing when I realized the de-humanization of vision and free choice into something weird as mathematical statistical expressions and the (abuse of) power that came with it. Our right to self determination is being replaced by numbers in a number game of a power abusing elite that controls these numbers by controlling the mechanics that underlie those numbers. This may sound a bit abstract, but the actual results are far from abstract. It is what is happening. It is this statistical matrix that controls most of us. It is this matrix that controls our freedom. Like a fly can still move a little bit in a spiders web.
We are humans and we need diversity and real choice. Humanity, and in a wider sense, all life on earth is under heavy attack by this statistically controlled matrix. In other words, the matrix is already here and it is expanding its reach and I don't like that at all.
You aren’t a fan of the new public face of Anonymous, why?
Worldwide, the Million Mask March was a great success. But the Million Mask March event was never intended to create a public face in the first place. It was to show to the public (and that includes the elite and their supporters) that Anonymous is still very much alive and very well supported and to bring that message to the street thereby opposing NSA statements that Anonymous had been "dismantled." That worldwide presence in the streets was enough 'public face'. It was defined as a street operation, but it really would have needed only a few well directed slogans:
“NSA, what did you say? NSA, we're here to stay!”
“Tell me what dismantlement looks like! Is this what dismantlement looks like?”
That would have been simple enough and would have brought the operational message to the streets. And then... Mission accomplished... Next mission! But let's refer to the laymen’s explanation of the bus paradigm with regard to Anonymous operations as you described it in one of your previous articles. So the bus stopped and people went home. But the corresponding Facebook event page survived the operation and became a moving target for unfocused and smoggy discussions about some kind of public face, leadership, political parties, humanitarian efforts, the history of Anonymous and more. It also became a target for "in-fighting" and trolling as a negative spin-off. And people are still on this event bus while that particular bus is not even there anymore. Like projects... Operations have a start and they must also end. If not, operations become the subject of day-to-day management and that is what we also saw happening on the Million Mask March event page. As a result of that, the public face (street operation) was hijacked by all kind of bla-bla stuff. An event that never stops is certainly not compatible with Anonymous operations. Let's see how this develops as it has dynamics of its own and I also see very positive developments.
For better or worse, there are definitely two branches, so to speak, of the collective now, one engaging in street activism under the anon banner, and the traditional hacktivist side of things. Can you explain the interplay between the two as best you can?
Street activism versus hacktivism is a way to define Anonymous "clusters" within the collective of "individual human beings". This is a very misleading concept of statistics: clustering and labeling and thereby narrowing the environmental interaction, implicitly accepting the collateral damage of removing the complete human being from the equation. Operations can take any form, so why not street activism?
People the world over have found something to believe in with Anonymous. To a lot of people that mask is like the Bat Signal shining over Gotham. They want to be part of it. What advice would you give those people?
That is absolutely true, and personally, I would say please understand yourself first, and then understand the idea and the movement, and then please join the movement and give your best qualities for the better of this world. Honor your principles and act upon those. Remember the best of us that came before us. You do not even have to wear a mask. Gandhi did not wear a mask, Nelson Mandela did not wear a mask, Martin Luther King didn't and also Malcolm X didn't. Julian Assange did not wear a mask, Chelsea Manning did not wear a mask. The same goes for Barrett Brown, Glenn Greenwald and many others. All of them started their own real-life 'operations" and many joined on their bus. Honor them and support them. They have fought for you. Now we need to fight for them and honor their efforts. Please do the things that you are good at. Do those things with confidence, stamina, and keep your faith for a better world. But please, do not call for a public face or some kind of leadership. This is not what the idea is about. The idea itself is our leader.
For me, Anonymous is a state of mind, led by the idea. Anonymous is a vigilant state of mind. Anonymous is also hard work. And vigilance does not necessarily imply paranoia or stupidity. Investigate, get the facts correct, apply logic, and draw the correct conclusions and if necessary, fill up the gaps with hacktivism. Then take the complete message to the streets. Make the information "actionable". But first of all, in your personal life: protect yourself and those that need it against power abuse. We have to get a connection between our personal life, the groups we live in, and the society as a whole. This schizophrenia has to stop. You cannot talk about social change if that is not included in your own life and in the groups that you live in. We will have to connect these micro (personal life), meso (small group activity) and macro (society) levels of ideas and actual behavior. And the propagation of that starts with the individual and the efforts of the individual to stand up against hate, greed, non-transparency, and abuse of power.
I enjoyed the link you sent about “Anonymous math”. Can you tell the readers a bit about Anonymous math and how it relates to Anonymous as a whole and the possibility of division within the collective?
United by one and divided by zero.
Well, this is my personal interpretation of the math:
United: by the unbreakable idea of love, freedom and justice for all yes, this idea is unbreakable as it is part of being human.
Divided: if you divide 'one' by ‘zero’, then mathematically, there is no answer. But if you divide 'one' by a very small number (very close to zero), you would get a very high number. And while that number gets smaller and smaller... The result will eventually approach some concept of 'infinity'. Being divided by a small number (still honoring diversity and differences amongst ourselves), we can reach a global "actionable" awareness of that idea. And on that ride, we do not even need to be on the same bus all the time. And we do not have to prove anything but ourselves.
When a bottle of wine is shared by five persons, you would only get one glass of wine. But with an unbreakable idea, you can share that bottle and everyone gets a full bottle and the bottle never dries up and you can keep sharing the full bottle. This is the result of the division by "zero". Explicitly, I do not wish unity without honoring differences and diversity in operations or a good discussion, so, to me... That 'zero' represents a very small number. But who likes a slogan that says: "divided by a very small number"?
While I know there are no leaders and one anon can’t tell another anon what to do, what should Anonymous be doing, in your opinion? Where should it be focusing their efforts?
As you just said: you can't tell Anonymous what to do. And that is really the only good answer. But I would like to add to that: there are many causes to pick in many arenas against many obscure social system qualities, and I suggest picking the cause that suits you and your capabilities best. There is no such thing as a specific focus. Focus carries the suggestion of a frontal attack strategy (strength against strength), but there are also different strategies, like a flanking attack (strength against weakness), and guerilla attack ("(re)group", "focus", hit, run, disperse... And again...). A guerilla attack forces your opponent to disperse its power over a larger battleground. Learn how this works and apply it with non-violent means. All of these strategies are effective in certain arenas against certain players, depending on the battleground, the agenda, the players, and the book of rules. For example, The NSA launched a media frontal attack (Anonymous dismantled) which was actually a small results guerilla attack (some hacktivism dismantled). This is when you know that Anonymous is winning. You only need to continue and keep your stamina.
Can you explain some of the tactics, such as doxing, that Anonymous uses online?
Doxing is a term, closely resembling investigative journalism. It goes mostly unpublished except in some severe cases which require direct actionable information. It can go a few steps further than journalism and it can become very personal, if a specific person is being doxed. And I believe it should become personal in some cases. But smear is not allowed. So, doxing is hard work. I have also seen doxing sessions that were started, but then called off because the doxing would no longer be honest to the Anonymous idea. Anonymous doxing is not like tabloid journalism. But of course, there will always be people who can connect an Eskimo to the man in the moon. In short: doxing is a perfectly legal approach of gathering and analyzing information to support actionable information sharing.
Since I’ve started covering Anonymous, I have received dozens of emails asking me how to become a hacker, and I can barely work my email. So, I’ll pass that question on to you. How does one become involved in hacktivism?
The question is, if you really want to become a hacktivist in the perceived and very narrow definition of the word. Hacktivism (as perceived) has become very dangerous. Hacktivism has also been infiltrated as we can see in the case of Jeremy Hammond. And not even a tor network (because who controls the exit node) or proxy chains (prevention of DNS leaks) or VPN (which provider do you trust) will cover your ass. Encrypted tunneling can be cracked by deep packet inspection (officially allowed in North Korea, Iran and of course the most "freedom loving" country of the world: the USA). So, maybe a botnet will do? But in many cases, that would start with the criminal act of spreading a virus. And a virus can also be tracked to its origin. The people who are involved in attacks through botnets may not even have given their permission. And Facebook would really be the worst place to start to learn hacktivism.
So, instead of fooling around by becoming the administrator of some obscure server, educate yourself of what hacking really is. I give an example of that: when you would ask your mother how she feels today, then you are analog hacking into the health state of your mother. It is the choice of your mother if she answers, and if she does not, then you could look for a whistleblower, for example your father (which would still be analog hacking). As a "last resort" you could hack into a governmental healthcare server to get your mother's health records (digital hacking, mostly criminalized). But in my opinion, if you start with the last thing, then you are just a ruthless game playing kid with your own personal game agenda of curiosity and no model of reality. And what are you going to say to your mother: "Mom, I just hacked into your health records and you appear to be very sick"? Even your mother would get angry on you, and she is not the NSA.
The need for hacktivism is absolutely related to the surveillance state and the increased non-transparency of our society, all in the name of terrorism. So hacktivism is to gain extra, otherwise unobtainable information to fill the gaps for analysis and to reach actionable information. But it must be based on absolute necessity, and whistleblowers are more valuable anyway.
So, to me... Hacking is much more than just technically breaking into a computer. The digital hack would collect email addresses for example, or other documents, necessary to prove a point or networking relationships. That happened in the case of the pedophile operations. But of course you could also start with the idea that hunters choose their hunting ground and instead of searching for a network of pedophiles you would wind up with a number of professions which are prone to have a larger number of offenders. To catch a murderer, you have to think like one. The same to catch a pedophile. These are hunters and if you can define the hunting grounds then, you can easily find them. You would not even have to hack into a computer. This is also what Terre des Hommes did in Holland. Perfectly legal, analog hacking using digital means. And it had a high success rate.
Do you see the increased notoriety of Anonymous as being something that will help or hurt the hacktivists?
Hacktivists do what hacktivists do. And they will not change their actions or stop because of any perceived notoriety. An open discussion hopefully increases the general perception of what Anonymous is all about. But as we see on Facebook, it can also create a smokescreen of in-fighting (which is an Orwellian term by definition as Anonymous is not even an organization) although it can get very wild. It is not just a matter of obscure infiltration of secret services with fake profiles, or even paid profiles, or metal gear as some mention, or just for the lulz. It is also the infiltration of the idea itself by people who might have basically good intentions, but still cannot divert from the paradigm and rule book of the current system and they may still support the idea that sheep should have a shepherd. And that is a much larger problem than NSA could ever be. Notoriety or not, we need to keep educating the people about where Anonymous came from and what Anonymous stands for and what it does and why it does so. And we have to keep supporting our hacktivists at the same time.
Is there anything in particular you would like to share with the readers?
We are approaching something which has already received an official name: "technical singularity". It is like a "black hole" from which you cannot escape. Too much (abuse of) power in too few hands. Therefore, I fight for diversity, the re-distribution of power and the restoration of human choice which also will open the way to truth and justice. But I cannot make these choices on my own. It is something that we will have to do together. No choice however should lead to moving further towards that singularity, or real choices will be made impossible. This singularity is about genetic engineering, nano-technology, quantum computing, paranoid mass surveillance, and more; and especially about the combined force of these technologies in the hands of a small oligarchic power abusing elite.
This singularity is also why many corporations are covering most of these technologies within a single controlled corporate structure. And then there is cross-licensing between these cartel members, based on dysfunctional, strangling patent and copyright laws which merely generate power and lead to high prices for the goods that they control.
The synergy between these technologies is of enormous proportions and threatens our world like a black hole (singularity). Hence the term: technical singularity. We have not seen anything yet. This singularity is also enforced by non-technical means. Take for example the secret transatlantic trade agreement talks (for which the corporations write the rules, specifically the bully of the industry: Monsanto) and which negotiations are mostly hidden from the public (I would welcome more whistleblowers and hacktivists on this issue and as a matter of fact, there is a wiki leaks release on this subject. These agreements must ensure the free flow and control of corporate goods and level the competitive playing field. Well... That is the official lecture. But it will only flatten the playfield for this singularity and it will further diminish the diversity and the possibility of re-distribution of power and restoration of human choice.
Personally, it is my belief that big corporations should be dismantled ASAP and brought down to publicly manageable proportions. This has already been done before where America dismantled the IG-Farben consortium Nazi war machine after the Second World War. But this machine has regrouped and is stronger than ever. Chemicals, food, and health businesses should be split up. "Human rights should be taken away from corporations and they should become co-operations between people again and no longer be the predators of the people sent to us by an oligarchic elite. I suggest to only accept direct shareholdership and get rid of these transparency obfuscating constructions like Vanguard. Corporations should also not hold shares in other corporations. So I call for direct transparency of ownership. And that information should be publicly available.
These things can be done easily if there would be the political will to do that. But governments and regulatory offices have been infiltrated and are largely corrupt. This is part of moving towards the point of no return (to be more precise: the singularity). The same goes for scientific institutions which receive corporate money through "non-profit" corporate funding. So we need to take our universities back.
The mechanism that can lead to this kind of corruption needs to be dismantled. Corporations should be taxed and then we can easily publicly fund our scientists and regulatory offices. The Netherlands is one of the biggest players in tax optimization", but some countries are now planning to tax financial transactions with these tax havens at 35%, which is a very good development.
One last warning though: change needs to come fast or we will for sure enter this singularity which will suck humanity into a system which will be nobody’s choice after all. Probably not even the choice of the current elite.
How do you feel about the Jeremy Hammond sentence, and could you speculate on any action Anonymous might take in response?
The case of Jeremy Hammond is a monstrosity. First of all, he was sentenced to the maximum sentence by a judge whose husband is connected to Stratfor, the target of Jeremy's actions. A decent judge with a relationship like that would have dismissed herself from the case. In the Netherlands, this judge would never ever have been allowed to sentence Jeremy Hammond.
Furthermore, breaking into a computer system (to battle the approaching singularity of a totalitarian corporate power-abusing mass surveillance state) can get you ten years while breaking into a hardware store and stealing stuff for your own sake, gets you less.
In my perception, that is a total lack of balance of justice. Jeremy was not a criminal in the moral sense. Some people may argue that lady justice is blind and also should be. But I would like to say: in this particular case, lady justice has been proven corrupt by enough circumstantial evidence. That must be avoided at all cost and she should have dismissed herself to avoid any smoke of this corruption fire. But she did not do that and this in itself is enough proof of the moral corruption of this judge. And this happens in the USA, where for example wannabe-royal families like the Emersons (all politically involved and lobbyists) are allowed to rule a single state for forty years in a row. And are then even allowed to extend that power to the national level. And that is just one of many examples. Americans fought the British for independence and then subsequently and naively gave it away again to their wannabe-royals.
For sure, the justice system in the USA serves the oligarchic elite and this is a very powerful force for moving further into the technical singularity. But this happens not only in the USA, although in the USA this is kind of 'accepted' culture. Lots of blackmail is being used, and then it is called a "plea deal". What about Orwellian language? And if you don't fight the allegations, you get less time then when you fight them? That is ridiculous. Justice should be based on fact finding and truth finding. Anyone who does not "deal" with the prosecutors should be treated just the same as the ones who co-operate with them. Co-operation should never be part of any bargain with regard to justice.
A corporate totalitarian mass surveillance power-abusing oligarchy is coming up fast (with the USA in the lead) and we desperately need heroes like Jeremy Hammond. As for speculations, I would never speculate on Anonymous doxing this particular judge into a coma, to check out where she lunches and with whom, to check her bank account, to create a network graph of personal and corporate relationships, dig up any dirt, to check her professional profile and resume, possibly even falsifications of study results, including her husband and his connections of course, and making that information actionable for occupying her house for a week or so. Because, under current law that kind of speculation could easily be interpreted as a call for criminal acts, possibly even terrorist acts. So I will not speculate for that kind of action. Therefore, I also did not speculate for that kind of action in this interview. And while I am not speculating at all, everyone is responsible for his/her own actions anyway. And that ... For me... Is certainly part of the unbreakable idea.
How do hacktivists communicate?
I won't go into that kind of detail Justin. But what I can do for you is give a general overview about security/transparency and how hacktivism plays a role in that. As I told you, I am specialized in business intelligence and that is to create "actionable" information out of raw data, using logic and common sense. Hacktivism and whistle blowing can be a valid source of data or even information elements, but for me... It is only supplemental. For me, it is all about information that is actionable. A mail spool in itself is worth nothing if one cannot interpret the actionability of that data. I specialize in that and that is why some say, I am a good doxer and analyst. And yes, there are different roles in Anonymous. People just do what they are good at. Like in the "official" world.
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