Anonymous, which last week threatened to pulverize the Playstation Network because of Sony's support for the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), backed off its consumer-irking belligerence and this week shifted to threatening just the executives and sites of Sony and Nintendo.
Anonymous—or people purporting to be members of the group—last week uploaded a video to Twitter in which the group threatened to "destroy" Sony's network because of the company's support for SOPA. From the Anonymous video:
This act will halt online businesses and restrict access to many sites for many users. Supporting SOPA is like trying to throw an entire company off a bridge. Your support to the act is a signed death warrant to Sony Company and associates. Therefore, yet again, we have decided to destroy your network. We will dismantle your phantom from the Internet. Prepare to be extinguished. Justice will be swift and it will be for the people, whether some like it or not.
The "yet again" refers to an April 2011 hack of the PlayStation Network: an attack that kicked the network offline for over a month and royally peeved consumers.
Looking to avoid a consumer-baiting repeat of what came to be known as PSNgate, Anonymous this time around has backed off the annihilate-your-phantom promise and instead has asked members to restrict the operation to defacing sites and publishing information on Sony workers.
One commenter on a Playstationlifestyle report, Malus, noted that s/he's "sick of Anonymous getting involved in everything." Malus poses this question:
Of all the times they’ve every gotten themselves involved, when has it ever worked out for anyone? All they ever do make things worse.
Take the Occupy movement. It hasn’t gone anywhere to make anything better. All it’s done is piss off even more people and get many more hurt. Anonymous may or may not be behind it, but they did contribute.
Allow me to make a prediction: Anonymous attacks Sony. Winds up having to shut down PSN. People all over get pissed off and demand blood. Whose blood? Definitely not Sony’s.
Whether Anonymous has had positive impact on anything whatsoever is an interesting question. I would suggest that both Occupy and Anonymous, both populist, decentralized movements, have had profound impact in their respective, and sometimes overlapping, spheres.
One thing that Anonymous has emphatically not done is to intimidate Sony into changing its stance on SOPA, though news reports about Sony's backing away from SOPA support have been rife. (A bit of sloppy reporting resulted in those reports; thanks to Techdirt for pointing it out.)
But regarding what the two populist movements have accomplished, the Occupy Wall Street movement, for one, resulted in the creation of an ad hoc, Internet-like network free of government or corporate interference.
Occupy also resulted in the innovation of a technology-free form of information dispersal: hand signals used to negotiate consensus and to overcome interference from police who used bullhorns to disrupt meetings.
Anonymous, at the very least, has cast a glaring spotlight not only on the Mexican drug cartel and its corresponding, corrupt political allies, but also on the insufficient security that even security firms such as Stratfor use with its customer data.
Anonymous has made strong companies quake.
But bullies do that to everybody, not just the bad guys.
These bullies have also made small, solid security firms quake. Even smaller security firms conducting impactful research have muted their voices following Anonymous's attack on HBGary Federal.
SOPA is an affront to the Internet.
But bullying companies into dropping support for SOPA does not equate to a free, open Internet.
Anonymous, back off. Let consumers handle this, and let us do it without bullying.
What do you think: Do we need Anonymous's strong-arm tactics to stop SOPA?Follow @LisaVaas