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We Need Whistleblowers: A Focus on Anonymous

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With the onslaught of a string of police brutality stories over the last few years, including the grotesque nature of the Thomas Kelly incident, we are living in incredibly precarious times where those in power have let it go to their heads. One things for sure, things need to change. Some Western governments were created to promote democracy, a symbol of equal representation, but what happens when that government abuses their roles and responsibilities and ends up justifying cruel and unusual behavior towards the very people who sustain its existence. Well, we need only to look at the constitution to find out:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security

So, what happens when those who are meant to stand for and defend equal representation end up preserving the ideology of the state over and above their fellow humans? It's as Karl Marx once said, "Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!" Marx, was right, when you imprison us, all we have to lose are our chains. So, what happens when those are meant to serve and protect are now the one's who control and place us all in danger? Well then, we need a new answer.

One possible answer: Anonymous.

Anonymous (used as a mass noun) "is a loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities". Notice that there isn't a claim that one central leader exists, but rather it's a network of activists and hacktivists. So, what is an activist? According to the Cambridge Dictionary an activist is:

" A person who believes strongly in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try to make this happen:"

So, then why all the government intervention to stop these activists from bringing on positive social change? Grant it, Anonymous, like any other fellow activist organization doesn't always get it right, this we know. But, what does it say about a government, more specifically, one of the most powerful world governments, when they begin to harshly imprison its fellow citizens who are attempting to change structures, economic systems for the betterment of its general population (which the constitution allows for)?

I had the opportunity to interview Kylie Ochoa (nee Gardner) who is originally from Australia who met Higinia Ochoa (a member of Anonymous) and they instantly fell in love. Part of their journey has included travellng across many states just to see Hig and then to be told that they weren't allowed to. This has included Hig being on 24-hour lock-downs in some prisons. The following was taken from a Facebook page in support of Hig's release: "While he was in jail, his wife gave birth to their son who is now one year old and has only been able to see his Daddy twice due to the lengths the government will go to make life miserable for prisoners. W0rmer (Hig) has been jailed nearly 1000 miles from home making it near impossible for his wife and son to visit." Now, they are talking about his near release but he can't go back to his own home, because the government doesn't trust him, so the family is being forced to relocate yet again. The government has made promises and has broken them. It's not that the promises are broken, its that the government is broken. We need something drastically different!

Another Anonymous case that has made it in the press is that of hacktivist Jeremy Hammond.

Jeremy Hammond, a former member of the hacking network Anonymous who has become a cause célèbre for hacktivists, civil libertarians and those concerned about the rights of whistleblowers, is a gifted young computer programmer who is currently spending a decade in prison. His crime? Leaking information from the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, information which revealed that Stratfor had been spying on human rights activists at the behest of corporations and the U.S. government.

"In March 2012 Jeremy was arrested in his Chicago home and charged with violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the same legislation used to prosecute Aaron Swartz. This outdated law, written before the Internet was even created, gives absurdly broad powers to corporations and prosecutors to criminalize an array of online activity and pursue extreme and disproportionate sentences." This idea of disproportionate sentencing seems about par for the course when the government begins to fear its own people, mainly to flex an obscene amount of power. This is when a government has exceeded itself beyond its own purpose.

Here's the thing, whistle-blowing is incredibly complex because it deals with the exchange, protection, exposure of information including what and who to expose this information too. For many, it's not just an act of defiance, but of liberation, hope and even moral concern for a world where the government is hiding information from its people. From Wikileaks to Edward Snowden, from Hig Ochoa to Jeremy Hammond, we now live in times where the government (and by extension the police and other sanctioned authorities) is itself in jeopardy of being seen as an agent of tyrannical power. We need these activists to wake us up to the reality, that the system that was meant to work with us, is now, at times, seemingly working against us. We need to take dialogue and discourse seriously and come together and dream of better possibilities, otherwise we are just enabling our own servitude.

Please follow the below links to write letters to, support the release of, and find out more information regarding these two hacktivists who need your help!

Free Jeremy Hammond

Donate to Jeremy's Defense Fund

Fundraising Camping for Higinio Ochoa

Fundraiser products for Higinio Ochoa

The Ethics of Whistleblowing