Anonymous to Launch HackerLeaks

by PaleFire on 01/07/11 at 12:06 pm

hacker leaks

Not too long ago Peter Ludlow noted that the recent prominence of Internet activist groups such as Wikileaks is symptomatic of a new generation of hacktivist culture that is quickly transforming from a small underground subculture into mainstream culture for a younger generation. Calling this new generation of hacktivists “Generation W,” Peter Ludlow observed that this group grew up in the era of George W. Bush’s neo-imperialism and its attendant war against transparency, and not surprisingly, is taking Wikileaks as its model.

There have been tell tale sign of this too. Case in point, Operation Payback is a Bitch was launched first against the media giants and (accidentally) resulted in leaking confidential documents of a law firm (ACS:Law) which had been engaging in shady business dealings over copyright issues. This leak not only resulted in exposing the confidential e-mails of the law firm, but also (perhaps sadly so), leaking the names and information of all the alleged porn downloaders who, I suspect, would have preferred not to have their private matters splashed all over the Internet. Later the same operation was used against oppressive governments of Africa in support of the activists who were protesting on the ground.

The question is this: have these attempts been successful enough to be taken seriously? Or are they the temper tantrums of a group of juvies pissed off at their parents? If they are grounded on occasion and we wait long enough, will they eventually settle down?

It turns out the group of boys upped the ante last week. Andy Greenberg of Forbes announced that a new initiative has been launched by the hacker collective that we have known to love as Anonymous: HackerLeaks. The goal of the group is remarkably similar to that of WikiLeaks: it invites users to submit hacked data for analysis and publication. HackerLeaks operatives will receive documents through anonymous submission channel, analyze them, and then distribute them to the press.

It works, however, differently than WikiLeaks in fundamental ways. Instead of waiting for insider whistleblowers, the hacker movement Anonymous hopes that a few outside intruders would be engaging in the leaking.

Legal repercussions of such an enterprise set aside, I question the success of this initiative in the long run. Its failure may not come from the legal front (though I am not sure how long “We’re not hacking, we’re merely publishing” excuse will hold), but rather, that we are living in an age ruled by the attention economy as described by Michael H. Goldhaber. In other words, the main issue, today, is not the scarcity of content or data, but that of attention.

How do you distribute data to the press to get “maximum exposure and political impact” in an era where “leaking” operations are quickly becoming the norm rather than the anomaly? Already, other leaking sites have popped up. How much data can we absorb and get worked up over? These are the challenges that are facing HackerLeaks.

Even Julian Assange had his own set of problems when he started his operation in 2006. He immediately sought to bring in Daniel Ellsberg as the public figure of the group, but Ellsberg declined claiming that such an enterprise was untenable (at the time).

One of his first important leaks, the video that showed the US Apache chopper opening fire and killing a group of civilians, including a couple of employees of Reuters news agency premiered at the National Press Club in Washington on April 5th. Much to his dismay, the video entitled “Collateral Murder” had little impact, if any.

Disappointed with the results, he made a deal with major newspapers, The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel with the release of the Afgan and Iraq war logs and the US diplomatic cables. Outside of his agreement with these newspapers, Assange offered an exclusive interview to Channel 4, CNN, and Al Jazeera just to publicize the leaks that were about to take place. By forming alliances with the main stream media outlets (which he doesn’t think much highly of)he was able to succeed in getting the impact he wanted in this attention economy.

Not that Anonymous lacks the media exposure by any means. Anonymous operations that have involved attacks on MPAA & RIAA to defend The Pirate Bay, or the ones on Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal in retaliation for their severing ties with WikiLeaks, as well as attacks on the governments of Tunisia, Iran, and Egypt have consistently kept them on the news for the last couple of years. Indeed, they have established connections with the media. But they have not consistently occupied the front page of mainstream media outlets as Wikileaks have. So the question remains… will HackerLeaks be successful in the long run?

19 Responses to “Anonymous to Launch HackerLeaks”

  1. James Freud

    Jul 1st, 2011

    I guess news that has nothing to do with Second Life whatsoever is better than no news at all.

  2. PaleFire

    Jul 1st, 2011

    I guess you didn’t get the memo. Our paper now covers stories outside of Second Life :) Pixeleen had published a note to that effect 5-6 months ago.

  3. PaleFire

    Jul 1st, 2011

    Hence the name change…

  4. Nelson Jenkins

    Jul 1st, 2011

    I think you sent this to the wrong periodical, sir. Can we get back to the scheduled pixel porn and scandalous tabloid material, please?

  5. Yep

    Jul 1st, 2011

    Go getem Tiger :D

    But a good article, I had just read this on Yahoo news.

  6. Reader

    Jul 1st, 2011


    What’s up with that?

  7. marilyn murphy

    Jul 1st, 2011

    the article is fine. i think mebbe i am just coming here for the sl drama, since i no longer go there. clinging to the last of it i guess.

  8. Yep

    Jul 2nd, 2011

    “the article is fine. i think mebbe i am just coming here for the sl drama, since i no longer go there. clinging to the last of it i guess.”

    I know, after becoming interested in certain subjects in SL I branched out and found other games that had no lag and much better graphics.

    SL is so primitive to me now on its looks.(I guess that’s why they are called prims :) ) The drama in SL is the most appealing. Some times it is fun to shake the tree and get the hornets buzzing. :D

  9. hobo kelly

    Jul 2nd, 2011

    rodeoooo, ride’em cowboy, rodeoooo, rope’em down, rodeooo, ride’em cowboy, yippiee yay, yippie ohhh…

  10. bubblesort

    Jul 2nd, 2011

    @James: There is no news in SecondLife. SecondLife still sucks. Just reading about it puts people to sleep.

    Hacktivism is full of the kind of intrigue that the Herald made their name on.

    Good article, palefire, but I don’t think Annons can gain relevancy for the contents of their hacks like this. People are still shocked that people can hack big, important entities like the CIA and FBI, so it’s the hack that makes the news. The contents of the tables that get dropped? Not so much.

    I think hactivism will start making impact when hactivists start hacking for specific information rather than going for the shock value of breaking into top-seekrit government agencies. It’s great when LULZsec publishes the username/passwords to every top secret bathroom stall in the CIA. That shows that they have massive e-peens, for whatever that’s worth. The problem is that that info is still only serving to further drown out some of the more damaging things they revealed elsewhere (in the Nevada leak, for example).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of LULZsec and all of that, I am just annoyed that the information that is getting released isn’t making enough impact.

  11. Nelson Jenkins

    Jul 3rd, 2011

    @ bubblesort

    People are still shocked that people can hack big, important entities like the CIA and FBI

    Can you please provide a publicized hacking of the CIA or FBI (and I don’t mean DDoSing their public, non-classified website for 30 minutes) to back this up?

  12. Yippie!

    Jul 4th, 2011

    Hey a lot of what Anonymous does I think is damn good, I can’t wait for hacker leaks.

    1. I am sick and tired of Corporate businesses like sony trying to screw over hotz, and ps3 modders.

    2. Information is free, and you can’t stop the free flow of information.

    3. I say ** Fuc* Copyright, I don’t care about a persons copyrights, RL, or SL, If I want to take your crap including but not limited to Music, Video, Or even Copybot all your shit and resell, or just do what I want with it I will you can’t stop it, neither can Skills Hak, or Red Zone users.

    The only thing that keeps me from actually abusing rights is because in SL the designers are not like big game companies, and industry who is screwing people over, and I will still do what the F I feel like, but I personally buy, and use everything that is legit, although if a content developer is caught spying on me, I will anonymously clone your entire store and stick it on torrents for download so don’t do it, and dont make me angry (;.

    The most that can and would be done against a person in the virtual world is a ban from Second Life thats about it.

    But hey just because people violate a CopyRight, doesn’t give a person another person a right to illegally use Spyware on other residents, doesn’t give paypal the reason to illegally keep funds which are donations towards a business.

    And Personally I myself would never go into a store such as Bare Rose, or any of the reputable content devs who are not supporting illegal spyware and do anything to them, but what I mean is I will use your content any fuc*in way I please if I want to take a snapshot of my screen with your Skin, or a hair you created, or even video record with or without consent I will what you gonna do about it.

    Oh & Just FYI I have fucked over a lot of people in SL, I have been banned many times for griefing, Spammin the fuck outa sandbox, Think I care lol.

    But hey don’t take meh word for it just tread on me and we will see what happens to you or your friends.

  13. Yippie!

    Jul 4th, 2011

    Oh yeah I got a few moar.

    1. Internet Censorship Not going to happen.
    2. Freedom OF Information.

    3.Don’t want your Music stolen, Don’t want Intelelctual Property you have created, Your Real Life Art Work Stolen, or anything here is an Idea.

    1. Don’t use an internet.
    2. Don’t sell it.
    3. Don’t even let anyone else hear it.
    4. Don’t allow anyone to see your work at all.

    By doing so you are releasing your work FREE under freedom of information and it can and will be stolen in one way or another like the Idea in general, or Someone will take a picture of it and post it without your consent, music for example.

    Games like Hunted The Demons Forge, Duke Nukem Forever, and Red Faction Armageddon were all bullshit games, I am glad I pirated those games for free, Tried them and then destroyed the software, oh yeah lets not forget Dungeon Siege 3 all let downs of games that should have never been released or have offered a free trial.

    Developers like these good lord mi gawd who would pay $50 for one of these games and no wonder there are crackers and pirates.

  14. Idontgetit

    Jul 4th, 2011

    Sny ‘screwing over’ modders is bad, so it’s a good thing that Sony’s customers got their email and cc info exposed? How does that work? Shouldn’t Sony be the one who faces problems and not its customers?
    If you think all those people will stop using their expensive ps3′s and Sony will feel any remorse for their decision to disable 3rd party software to run on the system think again.

    Also, software thieves like you might be pissed off at Sony for disabling that functionality of the PS3 that enabled you to run illegal games but they only did that because people started pirating games in the first place. In other words, Sony didnt screw anyone over people like you screwed things up for yourself. Plus honest people who used it for things other then petty theft as was intended in the first place.

    Lastly. Do you really think any studio will make good games if they wont sell but only get pirated? Your sense of entitlement is basically shooting yourself in the foot.

  15. GG3

    Jul 4th, 2011


    Sorry but juu can’t take wuts not rightfully urs n sell it for monetary value, it ain’t gonna work without a fight or somebodie that dun no der rights!

    Yes, the coporations have cracked down ugfully on what use to be “untouched” (modding your nintendo or ps3, i’ve heard the companies can now destroy your purchased console by sending software which busts your stuff the F up). Youtube censorship (WMA strikes again) and its surprising they haven’t hit the anime otaku’s yet with all their manga,games, and fansub videos.

    People who have copybotted in Second-Life have been DMCA and sued RL for it, so it’s more than just a ban from crap-a-life. You don’t really “own” the product although you “purchased” it. Never heard of havin more den one copy of it unless the vendor decides to give one to u (course dey gonna ask lindens for it) and that it stays in Second-Life.

    Interesting proposal, if SL were to EVER have a “meltdown” closing (would that be the day) you can bet your horses people be desperately trying tah download der inventories to save their work before the big hoot goes splat!

  16. Nelson Jenkins

    Jul 5th, 2011

    @ Yippie

    Freedom OF Information

    Hey, dipshit, try not to make an ass out of yourself while you’re making an ass out of yourself…

    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States Government.

  17. Yep

    Jul 5th, 2011

    Go getem Tiger :D

  18. archie

    Aug 1st, 2011

    This is a well known society of boys with very, very small penises who sit at their computers and do nasty stuff in order to appear big boys.

    Its rather sad really.

  19. Kissed

    Aug 2nd, 2011

    apparently “yippie” forgot his meds….

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