In the past, computer hackers have gotten a bad rap for infiltrating secret databases, infecting mainframes with viruses, stealing information, and other unsavory actions. But some recent actions by the infamous hacktivist collective 'Anonymous' bring a new deck of cards to the table: Internet vigilantism. While a lot of people are upset and feel that invasion of privacy and defamation are not appropriate ways to administer justice, many others are getting the satisfaction of knowing someone out there is doing something about criminals that have gone unpunished.
After a brutal attack on the Christian-extremist Westboro Baptist Church, Anonymous has set its sights on a group of high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, who call themselves the 'Rape Crew.' Two of these students were charged with rape of a minor after drugging, kidnapping, raping, and molesting a 16 year-old girl from another nearby high school. Because the incident brought a wave of conspiratorial accusations, Anonymous stepped up to the plate to get to the bottom of it. What they found has shocked the nation; sympathizing and dealings between the football coach, the local sheriff, the site director for the football team's fan site and the alleged 'Rape Crew'; a video showing a student joking about the rape; and information on more suspects involved with the incident. The Steubenville incident would have gone under the radar of national news if it wasn't for these hackers breaking into this community's shady underbelly.
The group has also been leading attacks on Israel military websites as well.
Are the members of Anonymous cyber-terrorists? Those who have been exposed would sure like us to think so, but when we see crimes going unpunished and lives destroyed because of injustice it is a relief to know someone is looking out for the victims. Are these actions just for publicity and not to seek true justice? Well when the group is completely anonymous and illegal, it's safe to say absolutely not. A terrorist group is out there to inflict terror for their own selfish ends, not bring about retribution for criminal actions.
It can be scary to think that there are people out there who can delve into anyone's life through the internet and reveal it to the world. However, if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to worry about. Many are relieved to know that a group as powerful as Anonymous is using it's abilities to seek punishment for those who have beat the wrap. Anonymous is a modern crime fighting group, and they stand by their foreboding statement:
We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.