This week, Anonymous revealed their plans to stage an international day of protest against child abusers, and those who support child abuse on underground pornography rings through networks such as Tor and I2P.
Codenamed “Operation Death Eaters”, the offensive will seek to oust many high ranking officials in several large governments who have been caught with material on their computers or mobile devices by the hacktivist collective.
In an interview with Sky News, a member of the group donned in their signature Guy Fawkes mask asked a simple question that doesn’t really seem to have an answer:
“These are high ranking officials within our own government, why are we protecting them?”
Anonymous claims this is not something they just decided to up and do, but rather a concerted, collected effort that’s been on the poster board of their “to-do list” for years.
It’s involved the discrete and careful penetration of email accounts of government employees for months on end, an act which on its own could earn the perpetrators a sentence of upwards of 20 years in jail alone.
The story is reminiscent of what we saw from the group just a few days ago, when they hacked the email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts of high ranking members of the terrorist organization ISIS. No word on whether these two operations are linked (the group famously claims that there is no central hierarchy to their mission structure), though it is nice to see that they have been actively attempting to use their powers for good, rather than evil as most governments would have us believe.
The problem of course with this style of vigilante justice is that it’s not always as spot on as it thinks it is.
One reading this story might remember back a few months ago, when Anonymous had threatened to release the name of the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, only to have revealed the identity of an innocent dispatcher who happened to be handling the call at the time of the incident.
Former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, told Sky News he was concerned that this leak could do more harm than good in the long run.
“It’s fraught with so many difficulties. If there are people that have skills and abilities within Anonymous who actually want to do something positive to help law enforcement and others to inhibit paedophiles operating so freely online, then coming forward and working in some kind of framework would be great.”
“But in the absence of that framework then there is the chance there could be some reckless disclosure, and from that reckless disclosure lives, and innocent lives, could be ruined. People make mistakes. We, during my time in law enforcement, made mistakes.”
There’s no telling how much data Anonymous was able to get their hands on, nor how much information they actually have to give on the subjects in question, until their cache is released, though it’s likely to cause a storm of controversy no matter how many are eventually indicted by the leak.