My Thoughts on Anonymous

I’ve always been a socialist, my whole family has. My family motto is “Crescit sub pondere virtus” which translates to “Virtue thrives under oppression”. Two of my grandparents flirted with joining the Communist party in the late 1940s when Britain stood between two emerging superpowers with differing ideologies. In the end they joined the Labour movement instead, which was almost the same for a while. My favourite musician is Bob Dylan, who famously wrote protest songs about nuclear proliferation, war, civil rights and liberty. To say that political activism and socialist ideals are close to my heart is an understatement.

So, it is with great interest that I’ve been watching the developments unfold in the Sony Hacking case. You see, it’s not just about piracy, hacking and console modification. It’s about freedom of expression and the right to be treated fairly by government institutions.

There are grey areas

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m totally opposed to piracy for financial gain. It helps fund organised crime. It puts people out of jobs. It makes people with families and mortgages scared for their future. Hacking and hardware modification for hobbyists and homebrew is something different though. There is much more scope for ambiguity there. There are grey areas.

I’m not suggesting that those who are breaking their end user agreements are right to do what they do and they’re almost certainly not right to release that work to the public where it is certain to be used for illegal and potentially immoral purposes. I’m not suggesting that the protest against Sony’s legal case is being conducted in an entirely harmless fashion. I am interested in whether it’s necessary, though.

Alan Moore is a favourite writer of mine. He wrote Watchmen, a comic book about a paranoid government imposing sanctions on masked vigilantes and forcing them to become government agents or retire. He also wrote V for Vendetta which is a dystopian view of the future in which England has succumbed to fascism (and the source of the famous Guy Fawkes mask that Anonymous uses). People are treated as parts in a machine by the totalitarian government. More importantly, V for Vendetta shows the fight against this police state and the freedom that can be found within rebellion.

makes a legal battle one of money and influence

V for Vendetta is clearly a work of fiction but, as with a lot of Moore’s writing, it has its roots in reality. In recent years we have seen an erosion of personal rights when it comes to legal action against large companies. Time and again, large companies have hired expensive legal teams to mire a case indefinitely while defendants lose livelihoods and go bankrupt trying to defend themselves. This essentially makes a legal battle one of money and influence. The recent attacks on Sony websites (as well as their lawyers’ and security consultants) is a protest against this perceived threat.

Is it right? Well, that depends on your personal perspective. I would say it’s going too far (particularly the accusation that activists are personally targeting Sony employees). I personally resent the inconvenience of not having access to the services I’ve become accustomed to (the PSN is suffering). I think the case against GeoHotz, which sparked the protests, is one which should probably ultimately result in his prosecution although what exactly for is something I’m not entirely sure about.

That doesn’t mean I’m entirely comfortable with the way Sony has gone about building their case though. Aggressively pursuing personal data of tangentially relevant parties strikes me as more than a little over the top. In short: I agree that it’s possible a crime has taken place but I don’t agree with the way Sony are being allowed by the Californian courts to attempt to prove that case. I can see why the protesters want to protest.

I can respect that conviction

The group (or groups) behind these attacks believe they’re fighting for something that’s right on a basic, human level and I can respect that conviction in a compassionate ideology. I can respect their desire to instigate change, even if I don’t condone the way they go about it. Although, I also believe that there comes a time when protest is essential to instigating change.

So, while I don’t necessarily agree with what the protestors are doing or the methods they are allegedly choosing, I can see what they believe they’re fighting against and I can sympathise with that. Does that make it any less frustrating when I can’t connect to the PSN to download the latest DLC? Of course not. Is a few days of disruption a price worth paying to ensure that all sides of an argument are heard, whether I agree or not? I think, for me, it probably is.

This blog reflects the personal views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the professional stance taken by TheSixthAxis or any of its staff.

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95 Comments

  1. I think the last line of this piece is key. While it is annoying to have certain services disrupted, would you swap convenience for the removal of your liberties?

    • i dont know about that logic. i dont consider my liberties at stake because hackers want to do whatever they want with no ramifications. i mean they did break the end user agreement right? sony just licences the software to you. there are legitimate ways of making games for the system and these guys didnt do that. thats all im saying. not trying to start a comment war.

      • “i mean they did break the end user agreement right?”

        So? The problem here is that a corporation can put anything they want into an end user agreement… and it’s changed the definition of ownership. there was a time when if you bought something, you owned it. you could use it, sell it, modify it, break it… whatever you wanted to do, because it was yours.

        ‘End User Agreements’ seek to erode our ownership. They seek to limit what we can do with what we own. At some point, the word ‘own’ no longer applies — we’re just ‘users’ that paid for the privilege of having something in our house that we don’t actually own.

        This is at the heart of the issue. Obviously, the majority of people will never care — it’s impossible for any given object to be that important for most people to deal with the philosophical/legal implications of ownership. most people just want to play games.

        But for those who do care? Protest is an option.

        Note — i’m not a hacker, i just want to play socom 4 beta, but i also, like the articles author, understand the need to be able to protest… even in this way. protest means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t disrupt — that’s the entire point of protest.

    • Erm, what have I done to them? comes to mind, sorry I’ve worked another 15 hour day and want to go online to unwind…oh I can’t because some group of pricks have tampered with the service, so now they have messed up my evening…once again MY or ME, I don’t work for Sony, but their pathetic behaviour has had an impact on innocent bystanders…so tonight I say F*ck em I ain’t listening!

      • Did you actually read this article, or just wanted to come and bitch about your day?

      • Yeah I read the article, but wasn’t that interested as there was hardly any pictures in it…

  2. I like how TSA goes deeper than just the games & industry. A good read, as always.

  3. Very confused. I have no idea what the hell you are on about. Who what where why? errrr….. missed something big it seems.

    • To summarise:
      Hotz hacks.
      Sony sues.
      Lawyers lobby.
      Lawyers lobby.
      Lawyers lobby.
      Lawyers lobby.
      Anonymous attack.

      • I take it this Anonymous is a group of Geohot fans? Really sorry if i sound stupid but i really have no clue what the hell any of this is. Didnt even know Geohot had been sued til now although know all about his work.

      • No, not geohot fans or even fans of what he did (although some maybe)

        They just perceive Sony’s actions to be eroding liberties & freedoms and are protesting against it.

      • @cc_star

        err… He broke the law. Sony did nothing to him and he hacked their console, knowing it was wrong! and you think he deserves his liberties? What about Sony and it’s employees’ and consumers’ liberties that this geohotz scumbag is violating huh?

        I’ll never understand the mind of the liberal. Some lowlife scum can hurt, kill, rob or rape someone innocent, and you all jump to the defense of the criminal and treat the victim/s as if they’ve done something wrong!
        The lot of you lefties haven’t even dipped a toe in the real world. You’re all safe in your sixth-forms, universities, offices or whatever and have no clue how much damage these scum you’re so quick to defend are doing to civilization. Wake up! Seriously, western society is like an open-aired lunatic assylum.

      • I’m not talking about his liberties or freedoms, please read up on what it happening

      • Please go get some common sense.

      • It’s clear you haven’t a clue about the case, what Sony’s prosecuting team’s are pressing charges on, how they’re gong about it and more importantly the ramifications of the case in the future, for the rest of our lives maybe on anything we buy.

        Like I said, please read up on what is happening before spreading bilge throughout the replies.

        I certainly am not a lefty or whatever you said elsewhere & nor do I hate big business (apart from the UKs supermarkets, they’re truly evil & they receive almost no money from me & my family)
        I’m no geohot, nor a hacking fan. I do however resent Megacorps weight being thrown around and strong-arming the judicial system in a way which isn’t open to everyone, regardless of their means.

        I want the PS3 to remain a piracy free secure system, I also like the ability to have the choice of what I can do (legally, of course) with my purchased property & yes I’m fully aware software is licensed & not owned, but there is plenty of room for companies to make billions and customers to be happy, whatever they want to do, again, as long as its legal of course.

  4. The first logical post by a gaming site since this all unfolded.
    It seems that if one side was “evil” and one was “right”, then this wouldn’t have gone far (like you say, grey areas).
    Sony forced GeoHot to be tried in California because the laws there are incredibly Corporation friendly, which I think is bending the system.

    I also think that the majority of gamers should not be taking the side of Sony, they don’t care that GeoHot is breaking EULAs and cracking firmware. They are RIGHTFULLY worried that the service they spent money on will suffer because of it, and the only way that will happen will be Sony’s doing.
    They are the ones who removed OtherOS (which has since proven did not affect the ability to jailbreak, but spurred more people on), and they are the ones who will ultimately degrade your experience by forcing CD Keys on you.
    sorry for the long rant, it was interesting reading about your political views anyway, considering how I never shut up about politics on Twitter haha

    • You’re saying this like SONY is one proud man. There are loads of barely connected people doing totally different stuff.

  5. Nice post

  6. This is exactly what they want more publicity.

    • You can’t spread a message with publicity….

    • Why is it a bad thing to be discussing this issue? Should we all stay blind to it and keep our mouths shut?

      • Anons, just like the group “Anonymous”, are trolls, buddy. You don’t feed trolls. If you feed them, they become bigger trolls and do worse things. The more you give them attention, the worse they get. They’re like emo kids, or 5 year olds. You don’t give them what they want when they act out, just casually ignore them and they’ll back off, like everyone who plays CoD.

  7. Very good article. I too can see the reason but it’s annoying because no matter how left wing I am, I still need to be capitalist to indulge myself.

    • The issue I have with the whole “socialist” thing is that it’s completely irrelevant to the argument.

      Socialism, for you dummies out there, is basically like you getting an A in class you worked your ass off for, and then being forced to spread that A around the class so everyone who has a D and an F gets a C. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except for the fact that you’ll also get a C for your hard work, knowing those people are getting what you worked for. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, everyone gets a piece of everything with socialism. All people are equal. I’m sure lazy people would love that.

      • Better than Capitalism where in your example the guy that gets the A becomes rich and the guy that gets an F can die on account of being a failure.

      • @a inferior race

        ever heard of survival of the fittest? It’s nature. If you try hard and work hard you deserve to be rewarded. If you are fat and lazy you deserve to rot. It’s just common sense, something all you liberals/communists etc seriously lack.

        There’s nothing I hate more than left-wingers.

      • Yet I thought that man emergedfrom nature to form societies.

      • UHHGGG! There’s a difference between socialist government and a government practicing socialist ideas. Do you pay money directly to a security force to protect yourself and family or a fire brigade to protect them from fire. No? That’s because you pay taxes and everyone get’s equal protection by these “socialist” groups. This occurs in most capitalist societies. The problem with current forms of capitalism is the laissez-faire attitude that’s been taken with it. Capitalism needs regulations and an occasional socialist idea/ideal to work, it’s not a contradiction. A perfect example of corruption in government has been shown in the US. Berni Madoff runs a pozi scheme and successfully steals $50 before being caught and gets sent to prison. Then, wall street is discovered to be losing billions in “derivatives” (nobody can explain what they exactly are, but basically they were betting on particular changes in stock, markets, etc.) When the housing market failed, there was no money to pay those betting on that change and banks began to fail. Anyway you can’t bet or promise money you don’t have. That’s illegal! Who went to jail for this? The punishment was to dole out $8.5 trillion to these fools. These banks made bet (which they never should have been allowed to in the first place) that they couldn’t pay out on. Heads should have rolled and many should have gone to jail. Yay capitalism! Govenment is based in socialism. It’s rules and regulations that apply to all. Communism is extreme socialism and has been shown not to work. There needs to be a balance. The above post actually defines communism, not socialism, you know, “for all you dummies out there.”

  8. If you dont want to abide by Sonys rules, dont buy a PlayStation. Simples.

    • Meerkovo.

    • Yes, because every time I’m about to buy a new piece of hardware, I first google up the EULA so that I can make an informed decision if I want to buy the thing or not…

      • A copy of the agreement comes with the console, and any retailer will return if you disagree with the terms for full price within regular return period. With regards to services like the PSN, you agree on sign-up and then periodically afterwards – you don’t read it, that’s your own bad.

      • Yes, a copy of the EULA comes with the console but I don’t have to read or even agree with it to use the console. PSN is a different matter since you actually have to sign up to something and you get the service if you abide by their rules, fair enough.
        Even worse is the iPhone where you have to agree to Apples EULA to actually start the phone, and since you probably already signed up for a mobile plan, you’re pretty much screwed probably.

      • yea, but what about 2 years later when Sony keeps changing the ToS. I don’t know of any place that’ll take it back then. I’m fine with the knowing what I’m getting into when I buy it, but that should be the only ToS I have to agree to if I choose, and still be able to have the same features of that agreement for the life of the machine. If you don’t agree to new ToS you cant play new games. Something NO body agreed to if the bought a ps3 2 years ago. If Sony would have told us that back during 05 E3, a lot less people would have bought a PS3. You can change a ToS, but you can’t change the features of a machine after someone buys it for those features. That’s why Sony is fighting a class action lawsuit where they’ve already lost one request for dismissal.

      • It wouldn’t be such a big deal if they were simply attacking the PS3 itself and not the network, but they operate solely on hacking the PSN–torturing the very people they’re trying to support. If Sony shut down the PSN forever and stopped supporting the PS3 right now, the trolls would definitely back off.

      • loads of EULA change if your using it to play games then there should not be a problem.

      • Has an EULA ever been held up in court? I mean if the EULA said that I had to give my first born child to Sony, (and it could for all I know, I haven’t read it) I am pretty sure it wouldn’t be legally binding.

      • “Yes, a copy of the EULA comes with the console but I don’t have to read or even agree with it to use the console. ”

        Er yes, you do. When you first switch on a PS3 during set up you have to agree to the EULA.

  9. Agree 100%.

    Read awhile ago about Sony’s defence against the class action suits about OtherOS and the potential for complete hypocrisy when compared against their offence against geohot.

    Which sees Sony using (& maybe abusing) every nook & cranny of laws to get hold of data from a variety of websites on members, commenters & even passive visitors (presumably to cross check against their own IP records, these websites even including Twitter etc. but completely opposite to this hunger for data on the opposing side, in the case where it is the class action against Sony and they are the defendants it is they who are stonewalling & using every aspect of the law to obstruct the prosecutors in obtaining data from them. and who can blame them, its the political institutions fault, well the people’s fault for allowing laws to be made in this way.

    It just highlights how big business lobbying for laws allows them to act in any way they please, that freedom is never afforded to the little guy, consumers in general, not Geohot, as I said yesterday he probably has done wrong, possibly in publishing the key and should be prosecuted if a court & maybe an appeal court see fit.

    But there is a lot more going on here than simply Sony taking someone down who got around their security, the ramifications are potentially huge.

    • Yeah, so sony should just play fair?. I guess you think geohotz got himself into this by playing fair, right?

      If you lefties hate big business so much, then why don’t you stop typing your tripe on your computer, cause that was made by a ‘big business’. Or maybe move out of your house? How about you stop using your car and buying petrol, why not stop buying food from shops, why don’t you stop watching TV, stop listening to music, stop wearing clothes, and go out into a field and live inside a hut made out of cow shit, eating rats and insects and other disgusting stuff you can find huh? Does that sound good to you? because it sounds like complete shitty bollocks to me.

      • BG Tips, you are a very angry person. What is it you have against people with a liberal outlook? If you are going to throw generalisations about it isn’t going to take long for people to bring the conservative slurs out.

      • @BG Tips: please try to refrain from the insults and generalisations, they don’t do your argument any favours and will probably just result in your point of view being ignored or railed against with equal venom.
        If you’ve got a coherent, valid point to add then let’s hear it but keep it civil, please.

      • I’m pretty, no, actually very, far from a leftie, thankyou very much. Also, how do you know I don’t already live in a field, albeit in a house within lots of fields?

        I care little about Geohot or even about hacking, I abhor piracy, but there is potentially far bigger issues at stake here.

  10. A fine article, mirrors my feelings on the subject too.

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