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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

When I first heard about Anonymous I was a little scared of them because of all of the negative press that was going around. It was rumored that Anonymous would pick random victims and shut down their Internet accounts and steal all of their personal data. But Anonymous eventually cleaned out all of the criminals and now the group is actually a focused, online collective that does what it feels is right. What does that mean for us? It could mean the end of terrorism, if we are lucky.

When Sony was hacked, Anonymous went into action and started hunting down the attackers. The funny thing is that Anonymous does all of these things without ever being asked and without being invited. That means that all of the information they gather is done through the tightest security walls on the Internet.

Then, a few days after the Sony hack, the North Korean Internet went down for almost an entire day. Anonymous making a point? Probably. That point would be that you simply do not mess with the Internet for your own gains or else Anonymous will find you and they will shut you down.

Anonymous is a worldwide group of the most intelligent computer users the planet has ever seen. While there is no leader of Anonymous, the group does seem to be extremely cohesive in its approach and its methods. Nothing keeps Anonymous out and there is no challenge too daunting for Anonymous.

At some point, Anonymous gets pushed to the point where they feel compelled to act. For a long time now, Anonymous has remained quiet on terrorism in general. After the Paris attacks, Anonymous has launched its own war against terrorism and it may be the most effective war ever waged on lawlessness.

Terrorists maintain their networks and keep their financial support online. They set up clandestine websites on vast black holes in the Internet that you and I have never heard of. Many of the less technically savvy terrorists use Twitter and Facebook to communicate. Without these many levels of communication, terrorism around the world cannot function. Terrorism needs funding to operate and they get that funding through online communication. Anonymous is about to put an end to that.

Anonymous has officially declared war on terrorism in general and that means going to the very gritty depths of the Internet to shut down all communication in the terrorist world. The first step is to identify the jihadists, which Anonymous has admitted will take some time. But once they are identified, their online access will be severed and any websites they run will be destroyed. Anonymous will also shut down those websites on the farthest reaches of the Internet that no one else can seem to find.

The problem this raises is that shutting down communication between terrorists eliminates the “chatter” that government officials use to determine when and if there will be an attack. But it also means that terrorists cannot communicate and it will make it all but impossible for Middle Eastern terrorist leaders to set up attacks around the world. It will also be very difficult for extremists to use the Internet to radicalize people and create terrorist cells in your neighborhood.

Is Anonymous a hero? Much of what Anonymous plans on doing will cause disruptions in the way that the government learns about terrorist attacks. But the government also has plenty of other ways to get information that is extremely useful in stopping terrorism. So we can look at Anonymous as a hero because it is doing what it can to stop innocent people from dying. But we need to be careful that the efforts of Anonymous do not cripple the information network that is in place and has been protecting us since 9/11.

Anonymous has no allegiance to any country and does not work on behalf of any government. Anonymous is not a great American hero as it has had plenty of bouts with the American government and, in some areas, the American people. But what Anonymous does offer is a way for the average person to fight back against terrorism, tyranny and oppression. It offers people a way to see that real criminals get what is coming to them and it does what it can to make the Internet, and the world, safe for everyone.

The world lives on the Internet and that is what makes Anonymous so powerful. I was surprised to see that Anonymous has finally declared its own war on terrorism and I am curious to see how it all turns out. Anonymous has the resources and the ability to completely shut down communication between terrorists all over the world and that could be the disorienting blow that the rest of the world needs to swoop in and eliminate many of these groups for good.

Who knows? At least Anonymous is trying. At least there is a group that is out there taking down North Korea and the KKK and giving the average person a voice. I would never have the courage to do what Anonymous does, which is another reason why I find the entire group absolutely fascinating.

We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

Terrorism, you are next.

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident who understands just how important the Internet is to the entire world. His column appears every week. Expect it.

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