Photo credit: Vincent Diamante via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY
The notorious activist hacking group "Anonymous" has launched two new campaigns championing a pair of green causes -- helping U.S. farmers earn the right to label their food as "GMO-free" and working to obstruct the expansion of the devastating tar sands oil project in Alberta, Canada. Monsanto, the giant biotech firm, has confirmed it was the victim of a large-scale hacking attack. And the oil companies are next, Anonymous says. Anonymous Versus Monsanto
MSNBC reports that the "Hacking group Anonymous has posted information on 2,500 Monsanto employees and associates." In addition, the hacking collective bombarded the company's international websites and succeeded in shutting them down for nearly three days.
What stoked the ire of the infamous online activists? Here's CNET: "the Anonymous online activist collective ... said today that it had attacked Web servers of Monsanto and released data on employees to protest the company's lawsuits against organic dairy farmers for stating on labels that their products don't contain growth hormones."
Anonymous posted a statement shortly after, detailing their assault:
"Over the last 2 months we have pushed the exposure of hundreds of pages of articles detailing Monsanto's corrupt, unethical, and downright evil business practices. We blasted their Web infrastructure to **** for two days straight, crippling all three of their mail servers as well as taking down their main Web sites worldwide. We dropped dox [released information] on 2,500+ employees and associates, including full names, addresses, phone numbers, and exactly where they work. We are also in the process of setting up a wiki, to try and get all collected information in a more centralized and stable environment."
So it's part Wikileaks-style information dump -- snagging correspondence that the group hopes will incriminate Monsanto -- and part digital vigilante justice. Whether anything implicating the company in illegal behavior will arise from the pilfered emails -- indeed, whether the impact of the stunt will be felt beyond the temporary disarray it caused, remains to be seen.
Anonymous flag, public domain
Anonymous Takes on the Tar Sands
Regardless, Anonymous has already announced it's next target: anyone and everyone supporting the expansion of the Canadian tar sands project in Alberta. The tar sands, of course, has been called "the most destructive project on earth". CNET reports that "Anonymous also announced "Operation Green Rights/Project Tarmaggedon," against Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canada Oil Sands, Imperial Oil, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and others."
And here's the announcement for that campaign:
"This week, activists are gathering along U.S. Highway 12 in Montana to protest the transformation of a serene wilderness into an industrial shipping route, bringing 'megaloads' of refinery equipment to the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada. Anonymous will not stand by idly and let these environmental atrocities continue. This is not the clean energy of the future that we are being promised."
Clearly, Anonymous's support for both issues will cause some serious ambivalence amongst the numerous activists and concerned citizens already working to secure a GMO-free label and to push back against the tar sands -- the vocal support of a radical, high-profile hacker's collective doesn't exactly spur solidarity for the causes in middle America. That said, it's pretty clear that Anonymous acts of its own accord, and its extreme independence, even fickleness, is well-known.
Nobody in the green movement will condone these illegal breaches -- but few will be feeling too sorry for Monsanto or the oil companies involved in the tar sands, either.
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