Posted On Friday, June 15, 2012 at 08:56:45 AM
The average age of Anonymous Indians (AI) is unknown. Sex? They’ll let you guess, but will never reveal their gender. They pay allegiance to their own version of the Hippocratic Oath: We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.
They are the new age hacktivists; hackers who hack websites to propagate their cause, which is: “No blanket blocking of sites by the government or organisations (blocking illegal sites and porn sites are fine); annulment of the IT ACT 2008 (the act reinforced the government’s power to block internet sites and criminalized sending messages deemed defamatory or offensive); to repeal the ban on entire websites such as Ishohunt, The Pirate Bay, Vimeo, Pastebin...”
AI has hacked the websites of Reliance, the Congress Party (waste of time, we think) and the Supreme Court of India (but, why?). On June 9th AI organised OpIndia campaign to protest against senseless censorship of the cyberworld by the government.
“The peaceful protest” happened in 12 cities across India with many joining hands with the group. In an exclusive interview with Mirror via Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Anons (as members of AI are referred to) talk about their organization and their cause. Anons are akin to secretive sect.
“You can’t get in touch with us, we will...send us your contacts...” this reporter was told. He was also cautioned against revealing their IRC names.
There seemed a “or else” hanging over the scribe’s head. The reporter readily obliged (lest in case his secrets tumble out of his mail box for the viewing and reading pleasure of the world-in-large).
Excerpts from the chat with Anons, Fawkes1, 2,3 and more.
Anons pride themselves in being “a collective of free thinkers.” Fawkes1 says: “We have no leaders. We hold free speech in high regard. Free speech for us would mean the freedom to disagree safely; the right to protest against what we think is wrong.” Anonymous (worldwide) has been around since 2003.
In India it first came into the limelight during the Anna Hazare movement. It is difficult to determine the demographic profile of Anons. Fawkes2 says: “We know nothing specific about each other. No personal information is revealed.” They meet only on chat. “The IRC is our office,” says Fawkes1. “We follow the simple rule: Trust nobody.”
For a group that uses ‘hacking’ as their main weapon AI surprises with their views on piracy. “We are against piracy,” says Fawkes3, though he does “personally think the concept of owning ideas is an epic failure. But if some dude has uploaded Kolaveri on Youtube, block that URL, not Youtube itself. We are also against child porn and sites that have links to pirated movies.”
It is an open secret that AI has been targeting Reliance websites. “We are not against any single company,” explains Fawkes2. “But anyone who is supporting censorship will suffer.”
AI’s “cause” has been misunderstood by many, they lament. “People think we are protesting because we are unable to download movies; it’s all wrong. Why don’t they (government) block porn?” asks Fawkes2. And his fellow Anon, Fawkes1 one replies: “They don’t block porn because they watch it in parliament.”
Another Anon adds: “What will they do in the Assembly if they block porn sites? On one hand you block websites and on the other you provide internet facilities to politicians. It is like giving small pants to a fat guy. Loathsome!”
Certain websites are sacrosanct to AI. Educational institutions, media houses and Indian military will never be hacked, they say. “We even saved the Indian military websites from Pakistani hackers last week,” informs Fawkes1.
AIs have had some strange hacking requests from the general public too. “One asked us to hack the Delhi Municipal Corporation because he was not getting water for two days.”
Aren’t the Anons afraid that they will be caught, after all hacking is illegal, right? Fawkes5 says: “It would be real hard for the authorities to discover our identity and prove who we are. Anons themselves do not know the real identities of their counterparts...it (catching them) will be difficult.”
AI has clear plans to deal with the corrupt in this country. Fawkes1 says: “We will leak information about them on the web. We will include personal information, things that they have done etc so that the citizens of India can know their true colours.”
They also have a message to the Government of India: “We are watching. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We cannot be defamed. We cannot be sabotaged. Expect us.”
Guy fawkes mask
The mask is the symbol of AI. It was chosen because a mask is generally used to hide one’s identity. “Everyone should look alike and yet be anonymous,” says Fawkes1. “And the V in it is for Vendetta.” The mask can be downloaded from www.guyfawkesmask.org