Anonymous as a Change Agent

INSTALLMENT ONE…
“INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE”

For those who haven’t kept up with the Anonymous idea, with Anons…we are a group that started as trolls on an image message board called 4Chan, but through a series of developments, found our voice as a way of demonstrating for social change in a variety of ways, and on a variety of topics.

We have become best known for dd0sing websites, and leaks of emails and other data, often with eyeopening results, results that reveal the nature of ingrained corruption.
We also, especially in our earlier Ops (short for operations), were visible in public protests by virtue of our use of the Guy Fawkes mask, made popular in the V for Vendetta movie.

But, what may have gotten lost in the focus on hacking, dd0sing, and our appearance, is the fact that Anons are seriously trying to change world societies for the better. Although some might hack “for the lulz” (in older times, it would be called “for kicks”),  I believe most of the Collective, or the “Hive” as we call ourselves, are in it to actually make substantive changes for the better around the world.

You often hear the phrase “We are Legion”…and it really is true that we are active internationally, and have Anons around the world, living among the average people. We Anons might be your grocer, your plumber, your doctor, your lawyer, your IT person…in short, we may be anyone and everyone. We are male, female, young, old, to sum it up, we are YOU.

So, sure, we want change, but what do we want to change ?

That question alone could require large tomes, entire books to explain. But, for the purpose of this, I will try to elaborate with some of the major areas we are seeking change in.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Information is power. The poor know it, but the rich also know it. For this reason, there has been a long history in which the rich, the Government, and Organized Religion, have undertaken a task to control the flow of information, the flow of ideas. The primary method has been through Copyright Laws and Acts. We can trace the formal attempt to restrict the flow of information to England and the British Statute of Anne in the year 1710, which had the complete title “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned”. This was the first formal Copyright act.

The Copyright act, was literally governing who had the “Right” to print “Copies”. The government and the Church (the people who really controlled a lot of the wealth back then) had a vested interest in what kind of ideas got into the hands of the public.  They did so by using the Imprimatur…from the Latin meaning “let it be printed”.  The impramatur was a declaration by the Catholic church, authorizing the printing of a book. Before movable type, before Gutenberg’s invention in the 1400s, books were copied by hand, usually by monks. It was a slow and tedious process which made books both rare, and incredibly expensive. But, after Gutenberg, books could be produced must faster, and with less human effort.

Before the Statute of Anne, printing books, the copying, was controlled via the Licensing of the Press Act 1662 and was under the control of the Stationers’ Company, a guild of printers. The Stationers were censoring works they printed and this led to public protests, and authors were also protesting, which eventually led to Parliament refusing to renew the Act, and the passage of the Statute of Anne in 1709. Later, the fledgling country which started as a colony of England, the United States, adopted a Copyright Act in 1790, almost identical to the Statute of Anne.

The State and organized religion, in this case,the Catholic Church, were very interested in being able to control the content of books, and what ideas got into the hands of the public.

Although Copyright laws originally affected only books, we’ve seen them now applied to all kinds of media from songs to movies to images.

What has grown up in this, the 21st century, is what I call the “Copyright Cartel” which are a conglomeration of groups such as the RIAA (recording industry, especially music), the MPAA (motion pictures), the BSA (business software alliance) and other similar organizations. The Copyright laws in the USA were in theory, there to promote new ideas, new creations by protecting the rights of those creating original works. But, we know that as long as humans have been around, they have been creating abstract works such as cave paintings, and later, written works. Prior to the Statute of Anne, Michelangelo and other famous painters did quite well without these “protections”.

The Copyright Cartel has grown in power to the point that in countries such as Sweden, the USA, and others, they are able to turn the government’s law enforcement, into their lackeys, their bully boys, arresting people for alleged copyright infringement. In the USA, there was a time in which the RIAA was filing ludicrous lawsuits against the very customers they were selling music to, and eventually, they saw that this “sue ’em all” policy was not working well, and for the most part, stopped. Studies showed that the same people who were sharing music on peer to peer networks (P2P) were also purchasing more music than people who were not sharing music.

New music survey: P2P users buy the most,no one wants disconnection penalties http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/new-music-survey-p2p-users-buy-the-most-no-one-wants-disconnection-penalties/

What has happened is that the Copyright Cartel have become more unreasonable in their demands about Copyright to the point that they are pushing the notion that no one can actually purchase a song, or movie, but instead, they are actually purchasing the rights to listen to the song, or watch the movie, for an unspecified number of times, but do it alone, and cannot make copies of the media they purchase. For anyone who has had a music CD or movie DVD get scratched, and thus, unplayable, they recognize the importance of being able to have a good, clean copy of the media they purchased, as a backup should the one they are normally using, get scratched, cracked, etc.

But now, as computers and software are becoming embedded in things which, in the past, did not have software, such as cars, tractors, etc., the car makers, tractor makers, are jumping on board the same wretched train the Copyright Cartel has been conducting, to say that you don’t completely own your car or tractor, with all the attendant rights to modify something you own. John Deere tractor maker, has been one that aggressively says that those who buy their tractors cannot fix their own tractors due to copyright laws.
http://theamericangenius.com/business-news/farmers-cant-legally-fix-their-own-john-deere-tractors-due-to-copyright-laws/ A great article in Wired addresses this very topic http://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/. The Copyright Cartel wants to substitute the EULA (end user licensing agreement) for any ownership. They are doing this, enabled by the DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a horrid piece of legislation passed during the administration of Bill Clinton.

And now, President Obama, under the smirking watchful eyes of the Copyright Cartel, is pushing the passage / ratification of the TPP or Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, which is basically a gift to the Copyright Cartel, that would bring even MORE draconian rules into play not just in the USA, but internationally. It is not overstating the case to say that the very idea of private ownership is under attack. The Copyright Cartel doesn’t want you to own software, just to pay for using it.

We Anons have always championed the idea that information should be freely available, and that poor folks have the same right to access this information as the rich and politically well connected. Aaron Swartz, a champion of this very concept, essentially was made into a martyr by a government which hounded him and his family to the point he committed suicide.

One alternative to the overly restrictive approach the  Copyright Cartel has taken via the DMCA, is the idea of Creative Commons.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons “Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.[1] The organization has released several copyrightlicenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy-to-understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons license. Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright, but are based upon it. They replace individual negotiations for specific rights between copyright owner (licensor) and licensee, which are necessary under an “all rights reserved” copyright management, with a “some rights reserved” management employing standardized licenses for re-use cases where no commercial compensation is sought by the copyright owner. The result is an agile, low-overhead and low-cost copyright-management regime, profiting both copyright owners and licensees. Wikipedia uses one of these licenses.[2]

For many reasons, the previously cited TPP treaty, is bad, exceedingly bad for the individual citizen of the nations which would be signatories to it.

The Copyright Cartel, and their allied corporations, are against the freedom of information, the free flow of ideas which is the basis of much of the internet. They want to put a lock and key on who can copy and distribute ideas. Thus, Anons generally support the phrase “Information wants to be free”. In opposition, the Copyright Cartel has attacked peer to peer sharing sites, torrent search engines, etc.. They want to have absolute control over ideas…to a degree that rivals or exceeds the Impramatur of the Catholic Church. It was clear why the Church wanted to have legal control of not only WHO published books, but the content….after all, you didn’t want ideas that conflicted with church dogma (such as the Earth being the center of the universe and the sun revolving around it) to get into the hands of the general public. They might just start questioning things, and for governments, when the public starts questioning things, they fear it can lead to revolution.

Thus, Anons often do “data dumps”, leaks of private documents such as emails or other data, which often reveals corruption on the part of corporations, governments, etc.. If not for these leaks, the general public would be kept in the dark about things like the fact that the NSA is spying on them ( we found out about this in large part due to ex NSA employees such as Edward Snowden). Wikileaks has also been a great source of making this information available to the public.

The bottom line is the government(s) do not WANT the public to know to what extent their rights are being violated, do not want the people to know the plans they have for invasion of privacy, and other such plans.

One way in which Anons become a change agent, is making the information available to the voting public. When information gets into the hands of the majority of citizens, information which reveals just how corrupt corporations, governments, and the uber rich one percent are, they are more apt to make informed choices when they vote, make purchases, etc. (End of Installment One)

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