Anonymous Attends SXSW Film Festival, says Not Frightened, but Angry
The South by Southwest Film Festival is an exciting opportunity for many young filmmakers to make their debut on the silver screen. Many people attend it each year. Amongst this year’s attendees were many members of the international hacker group Anonymous, who made their appearance in order to support a documentary on their organization. They also arrived to show their protest to the recent crackdown on Anonym0us members involving Sabu, the leader of Lulzsec, another hacker group.
Two of the hackers, sporting the Guy Fawkes mask that has become synonymous with rebellion and the group’s members, insisted that in spite of all the recent arrests made, their organization is still operating smoothly, standing behind their old mantra of “You can’t kill an idea.”
Anonymous member “9000” told an SXSW panel of their initial response to the news that LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, known as “Sabu,” was apprehended by the FBI. He described the news as “chilling,” and who could blame them? However, he then went on to say that Sabu’s arrest and subsequent assistance in the FBI arrest of five Anonymous members only encouraged hacktivists to continue their campaign for free speech and transparent enterprise.
“A lot of people we hadn’t seen for months, or years, started showing up. An attack happened that night,” he stated when further asked about the news. “It just angered them, not frightened them.”
The collective continued to show their resistance to the FBI and Interpol. Instead of backing down, their set their target sights higher by attacking high-profile targets like the Vatican and a neo-Nazi group. Besides praising the hacktvists’ perseverance, 9000 explained that the group’s recent bad press in no way reflects most members’ sentiments.
“That’s the double-edged sword of Anonymous,” said 9000. “Anyone can claim the name of Anonymous and do whatever they want. If anyone wants to make Anonymous look bad…it’s easy to do.”
9000 may have been referring to hackers like “The Jester” and James Jeffrey, both of whom have lately cast the collective in a poor light. Jeffrey, a self-proclaimed Anon, hacked into 10,000 women’s health records at Britain’s biggest abortion provider.
The Jester claims to possess the personal information of multiple Anons and says he will use it to aid law enforcement in capturing the hackers. The exploits of a few continue to dampen Anonymous’ public image, but an SXSW film called “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” may help reverse this trend and shed light on the mysterious group.
“I think Anonymous has garnered a lot of attention, some of it negative but a lot of it quite positive,” said Gabriella Coleman, one of the film’s commentators.
“The support has been wild and extensive, which we can see registered with the Guy Fawkes iconography spreading everywhere during OWS or earlier with the Paypal boycott day on Twitter,” she continued.
Coleman’s sentiments infuse the film, which may undo some of the damage visited on Anonymous by federal authorities and internal betrayals.
As a collective, Anonymous reflects differing viewpoints from both its destructive and creative members, as individuals continue to leave an imprint on the group. Recent incidents and even its own members suggest the collective is more complex than simply “good” or “bad,” and its impact and actions will continue to reflect its varied membership and nature.