Hacktivist group Anonymous uses video games to make a point to the U.S. Government. In response to the death of Reddit co-founder Aaron Schwartz the group launched Operation Last Resort in which they plan to strategically target government sites. This weekend they hacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission website.
They started by posting a video explaining ‘Operation Last Resort’ and the failings of the justice system that many now believe led Aaron Schwartz to become a victim of suicide and has unfairly prosecuted other Anonymous activists. Schwartz was awaiting trial for allegedly hacking into MIT servers and distributing academic papers.
Over the weekend the website ussc.gov was used to host a retro game of ‘Asteroids’ for those with the distributed code. Typing “enter Konami code (with cursor keys) ↑↑↓↓←→←→ B A <Enter>” while on the website turned the virtual government property into a revised version of the classic Atari game. The player blasts away the website outlining the guidelines for sentencing to reveal an image of an Anonymous’ appropriated “Guy Fawkes” mask made up of text reading “We do not forgive. We do not forget.”
The site has been hacked multiple times over the weekend and eventually started going intermittently offline in which Anonymous supplied a backup site for the attack at miep.uscourts.gov (the U.S. Probation Office for the state of Michigan). Currently both websites are unavailable.
While the game of ‘Asteroids’ seems like fun and games it’s merely a publicity stunt for the serious political dealings going on beneath the high scores. Anonymous apparently has encrypted government files. The nature of the files are unknown but they are threatening to de-encrypt the files publicly if the U.S. government fails to reform aspects of the legal system which have led to inappropriate prosecutions.
This is a news story that the world is watching and will surely go down in history. One day movies will be made, books will be written, however for now we get to watch it all unfold. Who knew that ‘Asteroids’ could be so political?