defending internet freedom against cults and governments
This is a report about the Anonymous vs. Scientology protests on the 12th of April 2008 in Berlin, Germany.
It all started with a video circulating on the internet, in which Tom Cruise comments on Scientology. What he says and how he says it is very exposing, so Scientology critics say. Some even say his appearance seems nuts. Anyway, the Scientology organization tries to get the video out of the internet. To no avail, as you will find it through google in no time.
More interesting though is what Scientology provoked with their attempts to delete.
Now the organization has a internet community on their heels, which is offended by the censorship and reacts radically! A group of hackers declared war on scientology. And they also work with criminal practices.
They call themselves Anonymous - a youth movement that arose from it and which does not only act virtually but also in real life.
Stephanie Gargosch tells us more about it:
It started like a guerilla war on the net, triggered by an internal Scientology promotional video starring Tom Cruise, who talks unchecked about Scientology. The video leaked to the internet somehow in early January. Scientology demanded the removal. Rightly. But the cyberorganisation Anonymous had a different view, they were offended by the interference as censorship.
In public, the so called "Anons" masquerade as the comic hero "V", who fights with radical methods against a totalitarian regime, agenda for Anonymous. They communicate Worldwide via blogs or chats, a movement without structure and uncontrollable.
Anonymous: "The biggest part of Anonymous are probably mostly young people, between 20 and 30, i guess. There is no head and there is no leader. Everybody is equal, everybody can take part, everybody is allowed to take part."
And since the beginning of the year, Anonymous concentrated its focused force on Scientology, announced their destruction with a tinny computer voice.
"Hello Leaders of Scientology, we are Anonymous! Over the years we have been watching you ... Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed ... for the good of mankind and for our own enjoyment."
Attacks on email addresses, phones and websites of Scientology followed, in a matter of hours callers and radical hackers bring them down. Scientology speaks of internet terrorism.
Sabine Weber (Scientology spokesperson): "It has definitely criminal qualities, harassing phone calls, harassing emails, about 900 harassing emails with virus and so on. Only just to bring down our systems."
Anonymous stands to its militant attacks but changes its tactics. Over the internet they call for worldwide protests in front of the Scientology centers and the shy bloggers actually break free from their computers. Always hiding behind their masks. The police in Berlin allowed this, due to possible personal attacks by Scientology. The Anons, even on the street, united by one goal.
Anonymous: "The goal of Anonymous actually is to ban the church everywhere on the planet. That's why all Anons are protesting today at their respective time to achieve exactly this."
An internet group from the shadows experiences the power of the net and the fun of protests. And this may, so observers think, may stay like this in future.
Gerald Himmelein (reporter for a magazine): "If one would recommend a different target to Anonymous, which promises to deliver similar fun, Anonymous maybe turn against this target."
Anonymous, the uncontrollable force from the worldwide net, unites militant hackers and engaged youngsters. Until now only against Scientology - but that may change quickly.
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