Anonymous Documentary We Are Legion Peels Back Hacktivist Group’s History

By Angela Water | January 22, 2012 | 11:33 am

PARK CITY, Utah — New documentary We Are Legion puts an actual human face on Anonymous, the hacktivist group whose members usually are seen wearing Guy Fawkes masks — if they are seen at all.

Considering Anonymous’ retaliatory acts against websites run by the Department of Justice and the entertainment industry just last week in response to the government takedown of file-sharing site Megaupload, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists could almost be mistaken for a 93-minute news segment.
But unlike most news segments about the group, the documentary contains genuine moments with actual Anons (some maintain their anonymity in the doc, but others don’t).

“The last two or three days we’ve seen a lot of what Anonymous does,” We Are Legion director Brian Knappenberger said in an interview with Wired.com here Saturday, the morning after the documentary’s premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. “You know, there was a film about the Weather Underground that came out a few years ago, and that was made 30 years after they were blowing up buildings, and I love that film. But picture making a film like that while they were still blowing up buildings — that’s what I’m talking about.”

We Are Legion might be the first to portray the group’s members as true revolutionaries, and it could serve as a time capsule if the kind of online sit-ins and retaliatory strikes that Anonymous has helped create become the new model for civil disobedience across the globe.

For those who didn’t hear of Anonymous until Occupy Wall Street started up, We Are Legion effectively puts the group’s current incarnation in historical perspective. The documentary traces the roots of early hacker-activist groups like the Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater before jumping into Anonymous’ roots in 4chan.

The documentary goes deep. Speaking with current and former Anonymous participants — as well as Wired writers Ryan Singel and Steven Levy — Knappenberger gives a thorough chronological account of Anonymous’ exploits, up to the group’s current place at the forefront of online disobedience.

Starting with Mercedes Renee Haefer, who was arrested in conjunction with the denial-of-service attacks against online payment service PayPal last July, the documentary talks to Anons and experts about Anonymous’ vendetta against Scientology, defense of WikiLeaks, and support of the actions in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Slamdance, the underground alternative movie fest that runs during the Sundance Film Festival here each year, seems like the perfect place for We Are Legion‘s primer on Anonymous. The film might have seemed out of place at a glitzy Hollywood-in-the-hills screening.

“It feels right,” Knappenberger said of the premiere. “Slamdance has a kind of undercurrent of revolutionary, counterculture, slightly anarchic vibe that just seemed to fit [the film] right away.”

Knappenberger is looking for distribution for his film so it can be seen by a wider audience. It seems possible that Hollywood backers will shy away from a film about Anonymous after the group’s actions against the Motion Picture Association of America and other entertainment industry power players. But Knappenberger said he isn’t worried.

“I just want to tell the story,” he said, adding that considering Anonymous’ various targets over the years, “Who aren’t I offending?”

He could also take advice from his subject Haefer, who in the film says that what Anonymous ultimately hopes to protect is freedom of speech, regardless of a person’s opinions or background.

Or, as she says simply, “Your opinion matters.”

Anonymous Documentary We Are Legion Peels Back Hacktivist Group's History | Underwire | Wired.com.

Iceland’s On-going Revolution

MON AUG 01, 2011 AT 08:47 AM PDT

Iceland’s On-going Revolution

by Deena Stryker

“An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

[…]

The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions…. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis….”

via Daily Kos: Iceland’s On-going Revolution.

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