British Spies Use Anonymous-Style Tactics Against Anonymous

Gabriella Coleman

We are the government. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.The
latest Snowden-related revelation
is that Britain’s Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proactively targeted the
communications infrastructure used by the online activist
collective known as Anonymous.

, they implemented distributed denial of service
(DDoS) attacks on the internet relay chat (IRC) rooms used by
Anonymous. They also implanted malware to out the personal identity
details of specific participants. And while we only know for sure
that the U.K.’s GCHQ and secret spy unit known as the “Joint Threat
Research Intelligence Group” (JTRIG) launched these attacks in an
operation called “Rolling Thunder,” the U.S.’ NSA was likely aware
of what they were doing because the British intelligence agents
presented their program interventions at the NSA conference SIGDEV
in 2012. (Not to mention the two agencies sharing
close ties
in general.)

Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which
have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests
to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site
users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem
to be using their very tactics against them.

The key difference, however, is that while those involved in
Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics,
the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in
lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But
with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the
GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they

Read the rest
. Read Coleman’s Reason article “Code Is Speech”

from Hit & Run

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