Anonymous Hits Syrian Govt Site: “World Stands with You Against Brutal Regime”

Anonymous computer hacktivists  landed on the Syrian government’s website (Monday morning 8/8/11 in Syria) http://mod.gov.sy/ leaving their logo and a message to the Syrian people in English and Arabic:

To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime’s brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.
To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country – rise up against the regime! – Anonymous
The hack falls in the middle of Ramadan. It was up from at least 9:30 pm west coast time and is still up at press time. UPDATE: By 12:30 am west coast time, the Syrian government’s site was not responding, either because of high traffic or because the government had pulled it down.

The logo of a torso with a question mark instead of head explicates the idea that Anonymous is a headless (dis)organization; there is no leader, as well as reference the Sixties motto “Question Authority.” Anonymous came out of the 4Chan pages, a NSFW image sharing site, and began their activism staging global masked protests against  Scientology and that organization’s abuses of civil rights. Since the success of that campaign, the WhyWeProtest.net aspect of Anonymous has expanded to embrace the uprisings in Iran and fight against censorship and for free exchange of information. Many also take issue with what they see as oppressive copyright restrictions.

 

Anonymous hacks in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange included taking over the non-transactional pages of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal to protest the institutions’ refusal to process payments designated for Assange’s defense. The Swedish government website was defaced this year by Anonymous in support of Assange. Other government sites including those of Maylasia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, and Egypt have also been attacked. And the Westboro Baptist Church was hacked.  Basically a bunch of people in an IRC chat room will discover they have an affinity on certain issues, recruit some other like-minded folks and go do something.  The internet–with the right tools–allows anyone to be anonymous/Anonymous.
Recently LulzSec/AntiSec, which emerged from Anonymous, have hacked into government and law enforcement websites, as well websites of security companies such as HB Gary, as well as Sony. A Portuguese man was arrested then released in the LulzSec investigation, while a member of the anti-Scientology branch of Anonymous in Sweden was mistakenly named by internet vigilantes as  Topiary, the alleged the head of LulzSec/AntiSec, after the arrest of a teenager in the Shetland Islands.  The English teen has been charged, resulting in a retaliatory hack of 70 law enforcement websites, compromising 10 gigabytes of information:

We are doing this in solidarity with Topiary and the Anonymous PayPal LOIC defendants as well as all other political prisoners who are facing the gun of the crooked court system.

The Syrian hack–which follows the hacks of other repressive states in the Middle East–is a major move for a  branch/few people/many (?) Anonymous, showing they mean srs bsns when it comes to freedom and democracy, and that for this bunch, their hacktivies are focused on more that just teh lulz. Other Anonymous activities include supporting the current large scale demonstrations in Israel and Chile, and  encouraging voting in Argentina’s elections last week.

(for a good, in depth look at Anonymous, check out this edition of The Stream from late June of this year. The Anonymous segment begins at 22:48 and includes a live interview with an Anon who explains the Anonymous philosophy and the hows and whys of Anonymous political involvement, as a well as discussion about new forms of democracy evolving out of social media and cyberspace.)

PayPal Admits US Govt Called Whaaambulance on Wikileaks $$$

Detail: Pelligrini, Venus and Cupid

PayPal copped to US State Department pressure:

The site’s vice-president of platform, Osama Bedier, told an internet conference the site had decided to freeze WikiLeaks’s account on 4 December after government representatives said it was engaged in illegal activity.

“State Dept told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward,” he told the LeWeb conference in Paris, adding: “We … comply with regulations around the world, making sure that we protect our brand.”

Actually Bedier was being a bit of a drama-llama. Backstage he explained that the  State Department did not directly talk to PayPal, and their decision to stop flowing $ to WIkileaks was based a nastygram from the State Department to Wikileaks.

MasterCard’s excuse per Guardian UK:

MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal.

I am at a loss as to how supporting a defense fund is illegal.

And if you want to give to Wikileaks, PhoenixWoman has some links

Late Night: Senate to Drop Ban Hammer on teh Internets?

The Internets. Both of them. This meme may become a reality…

We will support a free and open Internet.

That’s what Barack Obama told the United Nations. But then why is there a bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee that would allow the Attorney General to block certain Internet domain names from ISPs?

The bill S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would create two blacklists of Internet sites “dedicated to infringing activity,” which is defined very broadly as any site where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site.”

Heck, that could be eBay–I’ve seen some pretty bogus Marc Jacobs Stam bags on there, as well as faux Max Studio, BCBG  and Betsey Johnston dresses. And certainly YouTube could be considered such a site, though they do pull any video  which is flagged with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) infringement notice. Flickr.com and other photo storage sites allow people to upload their photoshopped images, as of course does the monster shoop site ICanHazcheeseburger.com

Anyway, one of the blacklists can be added to by the courts, the second by the Attorney General.  According to Demand Progress:

Internet service providers (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity (and presumably the government’s gratitude) for blocking domains on the second list.

Copyright is a tricky thing. The Associated Press says:

Associated Press text material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

And that means if a tree falls in the forest and only the AP is there to cover it, does that actually mean you can’t mention the tree hitting the earth without violating the AP’s copyright, even if you blogged under Fair Use that

a mighty big piece of living lumber  was felled by unknown means, according to the AP

rather than

a tree fell in the forest

because that is “rewritten”?

So technically if you did blog about it, under COICA your site could be blacklisted by servers and basically disappear because you “violated” copyright by reporting news to which you didn’t have direct access. Unless you paid the AP. So news becomes proprietary information. And that means control of information and possibly no freedom of the press since unlimited access would be truncated.

Nowadays, copyright infringement is handled with lawyer letters, threats of lawsuits and actual court trials, where there is a burden of proof. Should this pass, the lights would go off on sites deemed violators. Demand Progress says:

This bill would bypass that whole system by forcing Internet service providers to block access to sites that are otherwise up. People in other countries could still get to them, but Internet users in the US would be blocked.

Blocked from entire domain names. Sort of like how the governments of Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere block undesirable sites. Granted, because of copyright and licensing laws, when I was in Ireland, I couldn’t watch clips from The View on ABC.com; when in Turkey, I was unable to listen to Coast to Coast on KFI640.com, so I wonder how many blocked sites would actually still be visible. And plus there are ways around that. Demand Progress claims that

if this law passes Internet traffic will be reconfigured to route around it. Companies will move their US servers and domain names overseas, Internet users will route their traffic through other countries (just like Chinese citizens have to do now!), and software will have to be reconfigured to no longer trust answers from American servers.

Demand Progress is concerned that this bill is the start of a slippery slope  and that with a little prodding from Teh Gubbermints  all sorts of sites could end up being banned, not only news, blogs, politics, and entertainment, but  porn and gambling, which is really what fueled the series of interconnected tubes.


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