The Anon Party: It Was Only a Matter of Time

The controversy surrounding the hacktivist group Anonymous, as well as its various spin-offs and subgroups, reveals the truth of the old adage that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. A report on Information and National Security prepared for NATO's Parliamentary Assembly in June specifically noted the cyber threat posed by the decentralized international collective.   Without the support of countless individuals around the world, the group arguably could never have achieved such prominence. 

The list of entities that have been targeted by Anonymous and affiliated groups seems to grow by the day. Among the most prominent targets have been corporations and their lobbying groups (the Motion Picture and Recording Industry Associations of America, Amazon, PayPal, Master Card, Visa, Sony, the US Chamber of Commerce), government websites (Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Chile, the United States), security firms (HB Gary, Infragard), law enforcement networks and police organizations (Arizona), and even individual cities such as Orlando.

Whereas Anonymous seems to engage mostly in distributed denial of service attacks and website defacement – digital analogues to physical sit-ins and graffiti vandalism –, its subgroups such as LulzSec and Gnosis have hacked their way into the databases of numerous entities, dumping massive amounts of supposedly secure information onto the internet for all to see.  

Needless to say, there are likely countless individuals across the globe who support Anonymous's aims and goals – the freedom of communication and information being chief among them –, but are hesitant or simply unwilling to engage in patently illegal acts of digital sabotage and electronic guerrilla warfare.  Given the unrepresentative character of representative government in the United States, it was likely only a matter of time before the first Anonymous Party was founded.  A new group calling itself The Anon Party is looking to provide a legitimate outlet to advance those goals in civil society and gain support for them among the general public.  Excerpt from the group's first communication:
There are people from all political parties that support Internet freedom and civil rights. Although these people support our goals, they were averse to the tactics we used to advance them. Today, we are founding an Anonymous-affiliated political party. Our representatives will advocate for the internet and civil rights overlooked by other political parties of the world. We will do so legally, for the benefit of all people.

We will not hack websites. We will not use DDOS attacks. Although these methods were effective in turning the media’s attention to civil rights violations when our numbers were small, and we had limited options, we now have the numbers to make a difference legally. We can now attain the support of the general public. 
This political organization will begin a legitimate movement. Anonymous is now open to a wider variety of people, not just hackers and tech-savvy people on the Internet. All those who support Internet freedoms and individual rights will join our ranks.
Yesterday, individuals from the group held an open chat session and I decided to stop by and ask them a few questions about the project.  In the chat, testudo.smith reiterated the message of the group's first communication: "People know about Anonymous, and support their goals but they are afraid to get involved because of its semi-illegal nature. Thats why this group exists."  Smith appears to be exactly the kind of person the group is trying to reach.  Asked if he has been active in Anonymous in the past, he replied: "I myself have never been that active in the past. I have never been involved in the DDoS attacks, or hackings, as I am an optimist who believes that it is possible to make changes within the system."  For now, The Anon Party has two separate but interrelated goals: 
Smith: In the short term we want to become recognized within the Anonymous community. We want to become something that they support. Because of the way that Anonymous works, it is important that we get the support of the group, as there are no leaders. . . . And in the medium term we want to become a force that those outside of anonymous seek to join, and recognize as a threat. We want politicians to take note . . . 
According to Smith, "The Anon Party" is not actually a party but rather a "political advocacy group".  "Think of us as a group that supports the goals of Anonymous but uses legal avenues to achieve those goals," s/he said.  They might already have a home in the US Pirate Party.

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