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.
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 4chan.org 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.”
There’s also been a third argument made by writer Pseudonymous in an editorial for the Chronicle.su 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