This article was published on March 15, 2016

Anonymous’ #OpTrump isn’t a ‘war,’ it’s a nail in the coffin of the encryption debate

Anonymous’ #OpTrump isn’t a ‘war,’ it’s a nail in the coffin of the encryption debate
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Anonymous declaring war on things is becoming rather blasé.

In December it declared war on Donald Trump, before that ISIS, and if you want to go back even further we’ve seen operations aimed at combatting the KKK, ScientologySyria, and The Westboro Baptist Church.

“War” in this case is a call to arms that accompanies a threat to ‘dismantle’ Trump’s campaign by taking his websites offline with a large-scale and orchestrated distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

The operation kicked off with a video (below) that calls on people to “shut down his websites” and “expose what [Trump] doesn’t want the public to know.” It’s basically the rallying cry for any Anonymous “war” these days — the equivalent of making a proclamation of “war” and then watching while Call of Duty players fight it for you.

“Dear Donald Trump, we have been watching you for a long time and what we see is deeply disturbing. Your inconsistent and hateful campaign has not only shocked the United States of America [but] you have shocked the entire planet with your appalling actions and ideas. You say what your audience wants to hear but in reality you don’t stand for anything except for your personal greed and power.”

While Anonymous was once a group that inspired a nation by taking down those that were (arguably) worth the effort — or at least the lulz — it has since become a running joke about Vitamin D deficient 30-somethings running around in Guy Fawkes masks.

It’s a shame, really.

DDoS attacks and boisterous posturing do not a war win.

The group once stood up for the rights of the everyman by poking holes in networks and artfully removing files that could shame those it felt were worth the public torment. Now, it takes down websites and chokes on self-importance.

Anonymous was never perfect.

This is the same group that once carried out a coordinated attack on an epilepsy forum by trying to give people seizures by using flashing animation, then followed that up by attacking a teenager’s “no cussing” website and tracking down her physical address to cause more mayhem. Immaturity aside, Anonymous was once respected, even feared, by those that it decided to take on — those that deserved to be taken on.

I’d describe the Anonymous of the past as immature, but effective — never perfect, but doing enough good that you were willing to overlook the occasional misstep.

Today, we’re left with sort of an Anonymous-lite, a group of script kiddies that coordinates DDoS attacks and then pats themselves on the back as if they’re making a real impact. This isn’t a group that has matured, it’s arguably taken significant steps backwards.

The impact of this latest “war” will result in minor annoyances to Donald Trump and major talking points in the on-going battle against encryption and an open Web.

If you think this will affect the Trump campaign, I can assure you that after a few hiccups, he’ll be back to spewing venom in no time.

We should all expect more.

I miss the old Anonymous.

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