Anonymous: Heroes Or Menaces?

As PlayStation Network users continue to lament the loss of their online access, opinions over what the internet believes may be Anonymous’ doing have been sharply divided, as has been clear from the comments on my previous article on the subject. It’s not clear whether Anonymous, or rogue hackers somehow affiliated with Anonymous, is responsible at this point, but this does open up a larger issue of the motivations and reactions behind the PlayStation Network hack.

A bit larger and more complex than J. Jonah Jameson's reaction

Spider-Man comparisons aside, there are of course multiple sides to most issues, especially complex ones such as the PlayStation Network hack. To give a bit of background on the organization that many, including Sony, has blamed, Anonymous originated as an internet meme in 2003 on and is a loose association of anarchist hackers who use hacktivism (hacking AND activism) to take down organizations they deem corrupt while wearing Guy Fawkes masks and reading V for Vendetta.

They are both shadowy like the Illuminati and radical like the Black Panthers, without quite actually being either and have been involved in everything from exposing the corruption of Scientology, to the revolution in Egypt. Certainly, there is an air of ‘bad-ass’ mystique to them, but it remains to be seen if Anonymous actually had anything to do with the PlayStation Network hack. From what I’ve seen of user comments, there seems to be arguments for and against the external hack.

On one hand, Anonymous is a whisteblowing organization, and has been named by CNN as one of the three major successors to Wikileaks. The moral ‘grey’ area that Wikileaks operates in and all the implications that come with it also apply to Anonymous, who recently launched AnonLeaks, a website with a similar purpose to Wikileaks. Anonymous, if you can give them any sort of collective goal, believes in what it’s doing and sees itself as a righteous organization exposing corruption through hacking.

But there’s also the argument, which is also valid, that Anonymous is a cyber terrorist organization, in the technical sense of the term. Of course, Anonymous hackers are not Al-Qaeda or IRA members and don’t use bombs and wars to spread their social message, but taking down the PlayStation network is considered an act of cyber terrorism, and if Anonymous is ultimately found to be affiliated with this then they would be considered cyber terrorists. The motivation for this is clear enough. Sony recently took hacker George ‘Geohot’ Hotz to court over his hacking and spreading of the information on how to hack the PS3. According to an article from MSNBC, Anonymous had since been hacking Sony’s web domains and targeting Sony execs as a result of what they called an”unforgivable offense against free speech and internet freedom.”

George 'Geohot' Hotz, a 21 year old native of New Jersey

There’s also been a third argument made by writer Pseudonymous in an editorial for the that sounds more akin to a 9/11 conspiracy theory, but not exactly unrealistic given the nature of corporate greed. In the article, the plans of scapegoating Anonymous in order to charge PlayStation Network users fees is outlined.

Despite their own miserable failure with Sony, Anonymous has not even had time to come up with a new strategy. In fact, Anonymous has entirely lost interest in wasting their time on Sony. Now with a scapegoat for all future network outages, Sony is free to mistreat their own user base without discretion. Sony currently has a plan in the works to create paid PlayStation “Gold” accounts that will not suffer from network outages which disable completely unrelated services such as Netflix and Skype. This strategy is consistent with Reddit’s current “downtime” that allows only paid Reddit “Gold” accounts the ability to log in.

Regardless of the motivations and the bigger picture behind the PlayStation Network hack, one bigger issue still remains. The PlayStation Network is still down, and theory and speculation won’t help bring it back up. This is the issue that gamers are truly upset about, and it clouds the questionable nature and ongoing debate about the ethics of Anonymous, especially in relation to the PlayStation Network hack. Hopefully, the PlayStation Network will be back online by early next week.

For now, you can take a look at this pretty wacky recruiting video that TheAnonPress left on a previous article that uses Trent Rezonr’s soundtrack from The Social Network

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  • Anonymous is not a whistle-blowing hero.
    They’re just like a bunch of kids with spray paint cans, defacing others’ work.
    Heroes stand up for what they believe in, taking the credit as well as the blame.

    Cowards deface other’s property under cover of darkness and run like roaches when the lights come on.

    • They’re are we got. The internet is the last true bastion of free speech and expression. When groups that are in control strive to actively take out the people who reveal their secrets(wikileaks), anon was the ones that stepped up to defend them. Sure, lawful people could lobby to get change in the form of policy and laws; basically asking the people doing to oppressing of the truth to not do it anymore. Who in their right mind really thinks that will work? Those in power have made it clear that they will not stop until this “terrorist organization” is brought down. I say Anonymous is necessary for this point in our world’s history.

      In the case of Sony, I agree that they should be held accountable for trying to control their product that we, the gamers, buy and own. We buy the license to use the software on the PS3. That shouldn’t mean that we have to use it. We should have the option to replace it with something that more fits our needs. Though unlocking a PS3 creates the potential for some serious piracy; that was not Geohot’s aim. Yet Sony choose to persecute this guy as someone who was ripping them off! Even that may be forgivable. But when the courts had the balls to allow Sony to track everyone that entered Geohot’s site; things got out of hand. Anon was right to threaten Sony. They had somehow “legally” violated the privacy of everyone who entered that site. I say they had no right to do that. Anon says that they aren’t behind Sony’s crash this time, but I wouldn’t be angry at them if they were. Let Sony be made to know its error. I think Anon should really give something to Sony to blame them for.

      Anonymous, if you happen to see this. I support you. I believe in what you are trying to protect. If every generation has its battle; let this be ours. To uphold the sanctity of truth in a time when the details are glossed over, or hidden from public view.

      • Matt W

        Seriously? They obtained those records to show where the software was being distributed from. Geohot’s lawyer was trying to deny jurisdiction in California. He, with his lawyers, opened that can of worms, not Sony.

      • If you need to unlock/hack a PS3 than dont buy one. Dont give me this “We should have the option to replace it with something that more fits our needs.” Anonymous needs to get a life. Nobody gives a shit about them and they only do this childish shit to get attention. The only people they are hurting are the people who cant get online to play their games. As for their stupid V for Vendetta masks, its retarted. How about coming up with your own identity? Instead of copying some stupid movie noone liked anyway.

        • It’s not about altering the firmware of the device. It is in protest that corporations can get subpoenas to track unwilling participants of web traffic. Sony now has ip addresses for everyone that watched Geohotz video. I honestly don’t care about the PS3 I don’t own one. Someone did mention the idea that not allowing people to make changes to tech devices is the same as if Ford motor company making it illegal for people to modify there cars and you should think twice before purchasing a pair of fuzzy dice.

          It’s funny how lazy and desensitized people are… Who cares about the issues when you can play mortal combat all day… I think Anon forgot how lazy gamers are and now have to deal with the backlash…

        • @Anonymous Sucks
          Lmao, nice try. Who said the masks were from V for Vendetta? Here, let me google it for you.

    • tsmith

      netflix still works u idiots, just back out of the must login to psn screen a few times and it will load. silly rabbits

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      Never said they were heroes, was just trying to give both sides to the argument. I think that I’m in agreement with you, they don’t even have a specific agenda really.

  • DT

    Anonymous is a joke most of the time, but some times they can be a great aide against “evil” (whatever your definition may be).

    Many participate to inflate their e-peen, others join in just because they have nothing to do and a small minority of Anonymous truly does it because they see it as morally righteous. Depending on the target, the reasoning for participating shift.

    With the “crusade” against Scientology, most joined in because they actually saw Scientology as being detrimental. With PSN, the majority just wants to feel the blood rush to their manhood, getting off on the small power trip.

    Part of me believes in Anonymous, but with the lack of real organization (you don’t need any leader/s to be organized) they jump around too much, mostly to get attention.

    It’s unfortunate, but without any real direction, they will continue to be like the semi-retarded kid that you can’t help but to cheer when they try something significant and laugh inside when they look like fools (which is usually the case).

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      I feel pretty conflicted as well, I find it hard to come up with a solid opinion on who they are and what they stand for as there’s probably no standard for either of those.

      I don’t worship them at all, but don’t think they are a menace to society either. I was just outlining the main arguments that people seem to have for and against them to try to show all the sides of the complex issue.

    • Matt W

      I, for one, am tired of people trying to control the lives of others who are not elected by us. There is a reason our founding fathers created a representative style of government – because it works most of the time. When the intellectually faulty try to make decisions for me, I get angry. Scientology – I’m not a member; however, I believe they have the right to function as a church if the have been allowed to do so by our representatives – regardless that it was founded on a book. Their right.
      What right does anon have to attack a the psn – because they were breaking the tos? If you can’t function within the tos – don’t buy the game or hardware. You can’t buy a car, speed around, and then try to block the police departments because you disagee.
      Jailbreaking and hacking is essentially the same thing. You cheated, you were caught, and now you are throwing a tantrum.
      I wonder how the hackers were able to cause the ddos errors if they had followed their directives to get rid of their playstations. Rule 1 of fight club is to follow the fight club rules, and you were instructed to get rid of all Sony items.

  • they’re probably girls

  • Rob

    Anon is in it for the lulz, nothing more. to give them any greater credit is foolish.

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      They’ve actually said that themselves

      We [Anonymous] just happen to be a group of people on the internet who need — just kind of an outlet to do as we wish, that we wouldn’t be able to do in regular society. …That’s more or less the point of it. Do as you wish. … There’s a common phrase: ‘we are doing it for the lulz.’

  • WTF i dont care what you want to do with ur freedom shit.. i just want the PS3 network to go back on so i can play some call of duty with my friends. You really neeed to do something better with ur lifes then hack some PS3 network that is also free to EVRYONE THAT has a PS3 plz dont mess this stuff of for others

    • Leon

      Amen to that

    • You really need to get a life then.

  • Strange that the day after the hack on the PSN, Both my credit cards that I had on file with them were stolen and used in different countries to purchase prescription Xanax and Vicodin in huge quantities and were used in several South America islands…… This has set us back a great deal as far as closing accounts and filing numerous reports with the trade commision and banks. I never ever thoght this would happen to me… Ever. I sure hope other peoples CC info was not also breeched during this “outside attack”

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      Oh jeez, that’s terrible. Have you tried calling Sony customer support about this?

      • Daniel, trying to talk to a human on Sony’s customer support line since the hack is all but pointless, nothing but automated menus that will take you to support site call centers that have nothing to do with CC issues and recorded messages that say the same as the updates on the website. Thank god the CC companies have the common sense to know that me and my family are not 5 states away purchasing up drugs and god knows what else in other countries. But we still have to file clams through the FTC and banks to get re-imbursed for the fraud charges to our accounts. Like I said. Never in a million years did I EVER think this would happen to us. BTW, it is really weird paying at the store with cash I must say.

        • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

          That’s good that it seems to be getting sorted out. I would be absolutely outraged if I were in your position. I’m pretty used to paying for things in cash, but still, that’s a terrible situation and it really sucks that this situation led to actual tangible financial harm.

        • DT

          Articles on many sites are popping up today saying that it’s possible that CC info was compromised.

    • That’s pretty odd, the absolute 1 time I’ve ever had a privacy breach, one of my accounts was alleviated of over a couple grand. Luckily, I noticed it very quickly, and went to my bank, filed an Affidavit….and had all of my money back that day (I think 200 was available at the time I signed the affidavit). You shouldn’t be getting ‘charged’ for anything, is my point. Unless…they charge you for replacement cards, I guess.

      In my case, the transactions occurred in Cyprus. Of course, my showing up in person 10 minutes later at my bank saying I didn’t do this, makes it a little difficult for them to refute also. Sucks though man, hope you get everything back in full. Sony won’t have any control over this by the way, so contacting them about it is fairly pointless. It’s between you and the Banks. Just make sure you have all your card info changed asap.

      • These hackers are willing to keep thousands from interacting online, for the “lulz” they get at messing with a business trying to maintain profits. Maybe they have not realized that gaming is a privelige not a right, and while moderate torrenting/hacking doesnt hurt anyone,:) ,business will enforce actions against clients that they feel rip them off. Well, I guess that shows quite a lack of maturity from this group of supposed adults which is something I could live with. But when credit card information, and peoples fiscal complications are tampered with, the situation is brought to a whole new level. People who work hard, and are innocent of anything but wanting to play video games as a means of entertainment, can lose the money and ability to afford these games. All because some little kids wanted to get sony to tickle their tummies so they could have a nice giggle over it.

        • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

          In a nutshell, yes.

  • wow! ppl are starting to get with the programe
    i say so kus after reading n listening to wat all say i choce to choine the cuse n act towards the freedom of the internet

  • Leon

    Any type of hacker that does this is pathetic they have no life no friends and there not hurting Sony there hurting the PSN users the people who they claim are on there side

    • I agree with you! the only people they are hurting are the paying ones. They are mad at sony for going after Geohot(the hacker kid who found a way to hack PS3) but did they ever think of us guys who pay for the service? I paid for PS+ and DCUO now I can’t use both because of this attack.

  • do not understand the reason behind the attacks on Sony. agree with countless others that Sony is a agreedy corp. and will do anything to continue profits. have theories about what Sony and other major corps. do to generate profit. would not attack just to wake the sleeping dragon for it will be pissed off and will hunt you. question remains, will it play with its prey first or eat it.

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      What sort of theories?

  • mann tuesday better b the day i can kill of sum zombies kuz omg its like been too long!!!!!!!!!!

  • They are a menace, attacking Sony and hurting paying consumers, what about the consumers who are paying with their hard earned cash to get a break from real life? Did they think of them before attacking Sony? Go attack Microsoft or Apple..oh yeah I forgot they don’t want to attack US based companies.

  • Rouge hackers? What, they modify their mom’s makeup kits? OP IS A FAGGOT. GET OFF THE FUCKING INTERNET BEFORE YOU MAKE IT EVEN MORE SHITTY.

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      Are you talking to me? What does sexual orientation have to do with anything? By rouge, I mean ones not affiliated with an established organization by Anonymous.

      • Impact

        Rouge is spelt incorrectly. He’s trolling you. Rogue is the proper spelling.

        • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

          Right, my bad. We all make typos occasionally.

          • Impact

            Eh, no worries. All of us, except one, understands.

          • Twice?

          • typo =/= misspelling, for the record

  • I heard that these people didnt even do anything to the psn, they just hacked it and didnt know what to do with it because they were afraid, afraid of the gamers not being able to play. They arent against the gamers or the PSN they are against sony. But when sony and the PSN found this out they had to shut down the PSN to repair their security. do you really think this repair of security is gonna stop these people? NO. there gonna keep fighting for what they want. they obviously want freedom from what ive seen from their videos. Why did this have to happen during april vaca though? lol

    • but yes i do understand that they must not have thought this through because instead of hurting sony they hurt the psn users

      • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

        It definitely is hurting PSN users, who at this point don’t seem to care about the social message and for good reason. These hackers, whether they are Anon or not, seem to have pretty free reign of a lot of networks at this point if they could bring down something of this scale for this long.

        • i dont really know whats goin on, but all i know is that people shouldnt mess around with these people because theyre fuckin crazy and can hack anything they want.

  • mlm

    i like how u put ira in same context as terrorism. perhaps if u read more important stuff u wud know the ira arent terroists u sad geeky console molesting basted

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      As much as you may fantasize about it, I don’t molest consoles. And how is the IRA not terrorist organization? Yes, they were oppressed as hell by the British, but they did spread terror, isn’t that the very definition of a terrorist?

    • WOW. Vague hate filled insults mixed with directives to read/research documentation without any specirfic mention other than “more important stuff” dont really make valid points.

      IRA in relation to terrorism. seem to recall more than a few instances of car bombs/ hijackings/ murders and a few other such “Terrorist” activities covered in such various news sources as ABC, MSNBC(before and after NBC/MS merger),CNN, New York Times, APP, etc. . if your point is to back the IRA please be more specific and keep in mind they took credit for those terrorist activities.

      If your only point was to verbally assault the author than at least come up with something far more original.

      As to the PSN outtage, Hacking is illegal for a reason. no matter anons goals or purpose violiting any entities rights/property be it a specific individual, group, ethnicity, religion, etc. is just as wrong as breaking into their homes in person and reading their diary. two wrongs never make a right and if this generations only method of fighting its battles is to hurt as many people as possible than i for one feel a little sad for the prospects of the future.

      Sony had the right to take the kid to court. anyone that thinks that sony is wrong has a massive number of legal methods to fight for the kid (letters to representatives, offers to provide evidence on the kids behalf, protesting outside the courthous, etc..) that resorting to cyber terrorism is repugnant and insulting.

      None of the PS3 users should have had to suffer for some disagreement between sony and geohalt. IF thats what caused all this. And certainly no one should have had to worry about the security of their personal information.

  • Menaces, they only care about themselves and their own agendas. They do not speak for me or my freedom, I bought my PS3 to play it as is not to get games for free.

    • Anonymous

      If you didnt just read the fucking post, the goal is not to ruin the ps3 experience. Sony sued a man for releasing his personal findings on how to modify (hack) the PS3. This is ludicrous. If I released information on how to hack a wireless router, are all companies going to Sue me? No.

  • man anonymous need learn to get off hack psn ps3 network and i hope ps3 network own anonymous and hope ps3 network have protect hacker thing like game and i wish people doing right and some my friend say anonymous’s friend let him play online game and he let ppl play online game only his friend and trust and i try tell him who hack ps3 and he wont tell me…

    • okay, next time you comment on something take your time writing cuz i have no fuckin clue what your trying to say lol

    • Anonymous

      The illiteracy is immense.

  • dude

    All this cause PS3 took away the OS thing? What a bunch of bullshit. Hey anonymous 99.9% of ps3 users just wanna play online(COD) watch netflix and Blu Ray. As long as those 3 things work WE don’t give a fuck what Sony does. We are the Blops army we are the average gamer. If anything this will cause PSN to charge us. Or maybe more go to xbox. Yea let’s give all the power to Microsoft. Mmmm?

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is now. Anonymous is us. We are anonymous. We are what, when, who and where. To void anonymous is to void ourselves. Anonymous has it’s reasons. Anonymous IS.

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      Huh, that just sounds cult-like and cryptic really.

      • thats what im saying. dont mess with them. but i think this person is fake cuz they didnt say ‘we are legion, we do not forgive, or forget etc.’ and they usually do

        • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

          That’s true yeah, it seems like a fake. But are we safe if we can’t ‘mess’ with Anon?

          • but are we really ever safe? Anon had PSN hacked for longer then we all know. when sony found out they just had to shut down PSN. im not an Anon, but i would have been fine with the PSN just staying the way it was.

        • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

          I suppose that’s a good point. But I’d like to think that freedom of speech still exists.

    • john

      Shut the Hell up fool


    • “nothing is true, everything is permitted…”

      • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

        haha I was thinking like the animus in Assassin’s Creed

    • O my gosh. It’s the real Anonymous. For sure.

  • Idk, i can see their message and where they come form, obversley i can also see sony’s side of things. However this is more of a message and its not as if they destroyed sony or psn by any means. I want to join Anonymous i agree with their ideals in this world, that simple.

  • I love how almost nobody in the comments section knows how to spell.

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      It happens when you’re passionate and/or typing quickly. I’m guilty of it myself.

  • wow

    Wow are you kidding me? I’m insulted that the writer of this piece is comparing these goons to Spiderman. I don’t remember Spiderman assisting criminals like Geohot in their criminal pursuits. I wish tech media would stop worshipping criminal hackers. What does Geohot stand for that is so noble? Hacking you PS3 to allow you to cheat online steals the gaming experience from paying customers. Playing pirated software hurts the developers by not fairly compensating them for the products they produce. Sony has been losing money hand over fist on PS3 because it sells its console at a loss in the hopes that they buy games. What would happen if everyone stopped paying? Developers would have to lay off their staff and good games wouldn’t be made anymore (unless everyone is ok with playing angry birds for the rest of their lives). Can anyone honestly argue that its ok for people who work so hard to bring us quality entertainment to be deprived of making money from their efforts just because some whiny 20 year old script kiddies think they deserve everything for free?

    Also, I really don’t buy the argument that its all about being able to run linux on your PS3. I’m guessing about 2% or less of all users actually know how to put linux on your PS3. Someone please tell me a legitimate reason you need Linux besides using it to play illegal software. Not to mention linux will run just fine on your pc and you won’t have to break any laws or tos to do it.
    As for Anonymous, they are criminals and should be prosocuted to the full extent of the law. What kind of society would we live in if people only followed the laws that they like? How any law abiding citizen could support their cause is beyond me. They also need to drop the v for vendetta and matrix act. This is real life not some stupid movie. No one will take you seriously if all letters read like morpheous quotes. If they are truly out for good causes, they need to find better causes than trying to change psn tos.

    • oh NO you didn’t, wow!

      speaking as someone who is easily entertained by cartoon-animal cruelty and knocking things down, I am OUTRAGED by your reference to “Angry Birds” as anything less than the pinnacle of modern gaming.

      how can your perspective on life be so skewed, that you can’t see what really matters here??

    • Daniel Horowitz (HavenDan)

      Trust me, I don’t worship or idolize Anonymous. I was drawing the comparison between the attitudes that people feel toward Spider-man vs the viewpoints that people have toward Anonymous. However, I was not intending to draw a direct parallel between Anonymous and Spider-man so you sort of misinterpreted my intention there.

      You’re right about the linux argument though, I don’t know how legitimate that is. I think it’s more for running mods and homebrew content that they wanted to hack the PS3, not unlike those that are available to PC gamers.

      I think that brining that to the PS3 would bring it light-years beyond the Xbox 360, but I also don’t think that is Anonymous’ decision to buy. The PS3 is not meant to support this type of content.

      It’s like replacing the engine of your Prius with a street racing engine. That makes it illegal rather than just changing the paintjob or putting in a new radio.

  • korey learn how to speak please and in my opinion some of the PSN users are taking this way to hard.So you can’t play online for a week boohoo , i love playing online too but i can live without it. If Anonymous is behind the attacks they are just fighting for what they believe in, and trust me Sony is most likely losing lots of revenue due to the outage. I’m not siding with Anonymous but if i had gotten sued for something like jailbreaking the PS3 i would want Sony to feel the pain as well. Basically what im saying is that Sony is losing millions of dollars and PSN users have to live without online play for a while. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see the PSN start charging players just like microsoft just to make up for the losses this weekend.

  • Declan

    I have to admit I have been checking out all the info on this issue and have come to the conclusion that ok anon did what they thought was right in upholding free speech BUT all they ended up doing was opening the gate for sony to start charging its customers for a more secure site! Did they ever think that by hacking sony that they were doing it in the best interest of PSN users? Of course not! So one day I don’t mind not having the ability to have a laugh with my online mates but now its close to a week and I’m seriously pissed off! What’s worse is the fact that SONY don’t know when they are gonna get it fixed and back online! If this carries on ill have no choice to bin the PS3 and get an XBOX! Bet BILL GATES is laughing his head off at that thought


  • tboneforever1

    99% of ps3 owners don’t have any problem with the terms and conditions we all agree to. These guys are way out of bounds if they are responsible.