Tuesday, August 16, 2011

San Francisco BART System Censors the Public; Anonymous Responds With Retaliatory Action Against BART; Hacktivism’s Global Reach, From Targeting Scientology to Backing Wikileaks and the Arab Spring

Democracy Now

Bay Area Rapid Transit Accused of Censorship for Blocking Wireless Services to Foil Protests

The operators of the San Francisco area subway system are facing intense criticism for temporarily cutting off underground cell phone and mobile-internet service at four stations in an attempt to foil a protest. On Thursday, authorities with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) removed power to underground cell phone towers at four stations to disrupt a protest against the recent death of Charles Hill, a homeless man who was shot dead on a train platform by a BART police officer in July. Police say Hill threw a knife at an officer. According to media reports, BART may be the first government agency in the United States to shutter mobile-internet and phone service in a bid to quash a demonstration. Some have compared the move to former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s blockage of internet access across Egypt in January during the popular uprising against his rule. The Federal Communications Commission says it will investigate BART’s decision. We go to San Fransisco to speak with Davey D, a hip-hop journalist and activist who has been covering the protests. He runs the popular website "Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner" at DaveyD.com and is co-host of Hard Knock Radio on KPFA in Berkeley. We’re also joined by Catherine Crump, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project.

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Disguised Member of Hacktivist Group "Anonymous" Defends Retaliatory Action Against BART

On Monday, officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) were forced to close four train stations during the evening rush hour as free speech advocates attempted to disrupt the evening commute. The protest was called by the activist hacker group, Anonymous, in retaliation for BART’s decision to shut down cell phone and mobile-Internet service at four stations last week in an effort to disrupt a protest over the shooting of a homeless man. As part of its self-described "OpBart" campaign, Anonymous hacked into the BART website, myBart.org, and leaked the names, phone numbers and passwords of train passengers. We’re joined by a disguised Anonymous member who took part in "OpBart," speaking under the pseudonym “X.” "We gave them a taste of their own medicine," X says. … “We’re information activists just trying to make our world freer and a little better,” says X. On the question about the FBI investigation over the hack, X says, “I don’t want to get caught … I am literally running from coffee house to coffee house, from city to city, from state to state to try to avoid this massive, multi-million dollar manhunt they have put out for Anonymous. … What have we done, Amy? Point to one thing where we’ve hurt a human being … BART kills it’s innocent people. … How dare they do this in the United States of America?”

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Hacktivism’s Global Reach, From Targeting Scientology to Backing Wikileaks and the Arab Spring

In recent years, online hackers who identified as being part of Anonymous and other groups have carried out dozens of high-profile online operations. When Mastercard and Visa suspended payments to WikiLeaks last December, hackers with Anonymous briefly took down the websites of both credit card giants. Other targets have included Sony, PayPal, Amazon, Bank of America, The Church of Scientology and the governments of Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. Now law enforcement agencies across the world have begun cracking down on the hackers. In July, 16 suspected members of Anonymous were arrested in the United States. We take an inside look at how online hacker activist groups operate with three guests: Peter Fein, an activist who works with the group Telecomix, a volunteer organization that has supported free speech and an open Internet in the Middle East. He also sometimes acts as a liaison to Anonymous and was one of several moderators on the Internet Relay Chat for OpBart–the latest Anonymous campaign targeting the San Francisco subway system. We’re also joined by Gabriella Coleman, an Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her first book, "Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking" is forthcoming and she is currently working on a new book about Anonymous and digital activism. And we’re also joined on the phone by a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous, going by the pseudonym "X."

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