19 January 2011

Bringing down the store

Meanwhile, back at the Anonymous ranch, several programmers sympathetic to WikiLeaks have been posting programs like Hive Mind LOIC and other updated versions of LOIC, the program initially used to protest the arrest of Assange by launching bots that logjammed the websites of credit-card companies by bombarding them with page requests (sort of the Internet version of having all your friends flush all the toilets in the school at the same time, to overwhelm the plumbing). Similarly adolescent Anonymous antics have proven that you don’t even need to be a computer-literate hacker to make a corporation tremble in its jackboots; just willing to flush. “Paperstorm,” another Anonymous initiative, used the same crowd-sourcing strategy to flood the fax machines of PayPal, Mastercard and Amazon with documents published by WikiLeaks.

This is a thoroughly effective form of protest and free speech, and one that should be protected under the First Amendment. The efficacy of the crowd-source strategy is precisely what seems to be the issue that our authorities object to — but is this not why we have protections under the First Amendment? To decry abuses of power by the institutions that govern us?