Mark Townsend, Paul Harris, Alex Duval Smith, Dan Sabbagh, Josh Halliday
Dec 12, 2010
He is one of the newest recruits to Operation Payback. In a London bedroom, the 24-year-old computer hacker is preparing his weaponry for this week’s battles in an evolving cyberwar. He is a self-styled defender of free speech, his weapon a laptop and his enemy the US corporations responsible for attacking the website WikiLeaks.
He had seen the flyers that began springing up on the web in mid-September. In chatrooms, on discussion boards and inboxes from Manchester to New York to Sydney the grinning face of a Guy Fawkes mask had appeared with a call to arms. Across the world a battalion of hackers was being summoned.
“Greetings, fellow anons,” it said beneath the headline Operation Payback. Alongside were a series of software programs dubbed “our weapons of choice” and a stark message: people needed to show their “hatred”.
Like most international conflicts, last week’s internet war began over a relatively modest squabble, escalating in days into a global fight.
Before WikiLeaks, Operation Payback’s initial target was America’s recording industry, chosen for its prosecutions of music file downloaders. From those humble origins, Payback’s anti-censorship, anti-copyright, freedom of speech manifesto would go viral, last week pitting an amorphous army of online hackers against the US government and some of the biggest corporations in the world.
This article was posted: Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 8:50 am