CNN Money ran a series on hackers recently, one which had all the usual mainstream biases. There was the assumption that all hackers working for corporations were “good hackers”… the assumption that encrypted communication protects terrorists… and the assumption that there are easily-identifiable “good guys” and “bad guys” to begin with… with the government and the NSA being the good guys of course.
Part of the series, CNN Money tracked down and interviewed an alleged Anonymous hacker. Surprisingly, the mainstream outlet covered the story in a fair manner, asking reasonable questions. It also explained that members of Anonymous hackers often disagree on potential targets, and that they hack for differing reasons and ideologies- avoiding the mainstream assumption that Anonymous behaves as a conventional organisation does with leaders and a singular ideology.
Below is the transcript of the interview:
CNNMoney: Why do you hack?
Anonymous: There are many answers for this question. But for Anonymous, hacking is a practical way to show we can change things. We hack because we can. [The government] needs to know it is not in total control. And people need to know that too. Control is an illusion, and it must be broken.
Anonymous is sometimes categorized as a “hacktivist” group — what kind activism interests you?
Anonymous is about giving voice to the silenced. There’s no particular kind of activism we give priority to.We are interested in giving power back to people. Besides, we want the Internet to be a common asset. Its infrastructure must be rebuilt so no government or corporation can control it.Universal encryption should be a security tool for every citizen to keep their personal information safe.
How do you choose your causes?
Usually in brainstorms. But some things just happen organically. It’s a little chaotic. You have an idea, you show your idea. If it’s good, more people will help you. And it can become global. Every once in a while someone tries to use operations to call attention for their work, their careers, their private interests. But it just won’t work.
What do you say to those who say Anonymous breaks the law?
If change comes through breaking laws, I think the laws must be broken.
Is there a line you guys won’t cross?
Hard to say. Depends on the situation, the urgency, the seriousness. We can’t answer for everyone, you know? But we would say the “personal interest” line — if we take something from anyone, it’s going to be given to someone who needs. Or it’s gonna be public. Like information.
Could you explain your code of ethics?
There’s no rigid code. We fight for freedom, so I can’t just throw my rules on you.
Is there a unifying principle?
Freedom. If there’s something that easily bring us together, it’s the struggle for freedom. If you lock up any of us, you’ll have trouble with every one of us. If you silence one of us, all the others will be yelling.
We desire the reconstruction of the Internet’s infrastructure, in a way that it can be a public good. The universal encryption as a tool for data security was a decision that we as hackers could take.We think that a hacker’s role is to give support to a new society, to provoke thoughts of a better future to everyone.