Anonymous’ Actions Amount to Blackmail

The message from Anonymous to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was chillingly simple: scrap C-30 (the perversely titled Protection of Children Act designed to enable the government  access to the IP addresses  of the nation without so much as a court order) or else they will continue with even more scandalous revelations about the minister’s checkered personal life being made public.

On February, 22nd, they released another video through YouTube where they revealed more details about Toews’ mistress, including her name and where she works. Though, they at least had the decency to spare his four year old love child a public shaming! The first video (released on February 18th, since removed by YouTube), had all the hallmarks of an anonymous operation (or Anon-ops): wearing a Guy Fawkes masque (a reference to the now ubiquitous V for Vendetta movie and graphic novel), the fake news anchor reported the group’s demands using a heavily distorted computerized voice and ended with the groups quasi-revolutionary slogan: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!”

As far as I can tell, this was the first attack that targeted a specific politician in Canada, and most likely won’t be the last, given the amount of attention it got both from the old media and the group’s targets.

In the past, Anonymous has been behind such famous or infamous examples of internet “hactivism” as launching cyber attacks on Paypal and MasterCard for succumbing to government pressure and denying Wikileaks access to donations through their networks because of their involvement in the Cablegate affair. But, to my knowledge, this is the first time the group has turned its attentions to the Canadian political scene.

I couldn’t be happier about their first choice of victim. Vic Toews is easily one of Canada’s most loathsome Conservative politicians (quite a feat, when you consider the competition) and his remarks in the House of Commons recently (a pathetic attempt to vilify his critics by suggesting that they “stand with the child pornographers”) were hateful and completely out of order (are you listening Speaker Andrew Sheer?!). Still, I must confess to feeling extremely ambivalent about the actions of Anonymous, in that, to my mind, they seem to set a dangerous precedent.

This may strike some of my lefty buddies as a betrayal of one of our progressive allies in the fight against the corruption of the Harper government and the powers that be, but the truth of the matter is that once this type of genie has left this particular lamp, there is no telling where it will go next, to use a trite metaphor. Put another way: what’s to stop these guys from choosing someone we support next time their wrath has been aroused for some perceived threat to their interests? For that matter, do we even know what their political agenda really is, let alone if they share our political goals more generally?

As a matter of principle, we have to show zero tolerance for any attempts to cow our democratically elected representatives through this kind of extreme pressure. Should we allow an anonymous bunch of hackers decide which laws we can and cannot pass? Black mail is blackmail, no matter how worthy the cause being advanced.

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  • I would agree with you if the threats were against another politician or even against Toews for a different bill, say “keep the gun registry” or “scrap the C-10 Crime Bill or we’ll tell everyone about your mistress.”

    In this case, however, Toews is trying to pass a bill that would give him (and the government) access to everyone’s personal information, therefore, giving everyone access to his personal information, or threatening to do so, is a justifiable response, in a “this is what you want to do to us, here’s how it feels when we do the same thing to you” way.

  • I agree with Jason. The political class is so removed from the workings of real life for real people that I feel giving them a taste of their own medicine is the only way to get a message across.

    This also sends an additional message to corrupt politicians: “The public is able and willing to go outside the law if you are. You are not safe, you are not invincible.”
    I think that’s essential if we don’t want our representatives to keep acting like they’re actually elected monarchs.

  • it may amount to blackmail, but… DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER! DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!

  • While I agree that C-30 is heinous Jason, that’s beside the point. The fact remains, that this is an attempt to intimidate an elected official into withdrawing his bill by a shadowy network of conspirators that is accountable to no one. We have to keep in mind the principles of representative democracy and protect them at all costs, even if that means denouncing the enemies of our enemy. Eye for an eye, may sound cool, but it has no place in our public political debates and does not justify the use of such drastic measures to achieve our goal of stopping this potentially gross violation of our privacy.

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