It may have been a couple months in the making, but earlier this month I finally agreed to an interview with a European based group of researchers known as “Project Hacktivism,” seeking to learn more about the underground world of hackers, who they are (so to speak), what motivates them, why it continues and why it all exists in the first place. Led by a man going by the name of Marco Romagna, I was submitted a series of questions that I will share the the viewing public here today as a sneak peak before the final research is published, produced or presented.
Here’s what I was sent, and how I replied…..
“These are the first questions. Based on your answer I would be happy to ask more. If you can’t answer because it is too private, just let me know. Reading some of your blogs, I noticed you have been highly involved with Anonymous, likely not only as an observer. Therefore, my questions for you are…”
1.) First, do you have hacking skills yourself, or are you passionate for technology but not a computer hacker.
Answer: “I am not a computer hacker, but I am passionate about learning and view the internet as the greatest library on planet Earth, so I used to spend as much time as possible on it learning. Hacking culture always fascinated me so I began to research it and the more I researched it the more I found myself within it. I was never a hacker, but people seemed to gravitate to me because I have a high IQ and hackers tend to be some of the smartest people in the world actually, and the people who want to affiliate with them are always seeking to learn more about the world in general. I think you will find that some of the deepest corners of the hacking world are also some of the most intellectual corners of the world these days, all full of people whom spend nearly full time hours reading, learning, consuming new information. Couple this with different perspectives from different, cultures, religions, countries, etc, people wind up learning so much from one another – making it addictive.”
2.) Have you directly been involved with Anonymous and hacktivism more in general (meaning: participating in active operations)? If so, what did (does) motivate you?
Answer: “I have been directly involved in many Anonymous operations all around the world, led many myself, invented many myself, wrote transcripts for others, drafted press releases, made pictures – etc. What motivates me is what motivates everyone; being the change you wish to see in the world. Everyone in this world has different interests, goals or concerns. So people act on this individualism. Whether it be pedophiles, racists, animal abusers, terrorists, you name it, there is always going to be someone out there looking to fight back against it. So this is how people build their different Ops, based on what they want to fight for – which is always relative to the individual.
Hackers are some of the poorest, most oppressed people in this world that you will ever meet – believe me. In real life they have nothing, no possessions, no social power or political influence, often times social outcasts from their own schools or societies, geeks or losers, come from abusive families, lower class – etc. Just people who are accustomed to live without. So this is why they fight so hard online, because the internet levels out the playing field. With the right amount of knowledge, even the biggest of bums in the material world can be a God online. So this is why people fight, why they are willing to steal or pirate so much information/data from people online, because in real life they have nothing and this serves as their motivation to do whatever they can however they can.
What motivates us? It also works, meaning we get results. Look at operation Sudan in 2018 – 2019. We literally changed the course of African history. I started it with a few others from a homeless shelter computer lab in NYC, and helped a revolution in Africa. Just think about that. Anonymous was once one of Time Magazines top 100 people at one time, I have helped INTERPOL and the FBI make dozens of arrests internationally worldwide, been given lines to Air Force Intelligence in Yemen, all because Anonymous operations and online activism. You CAN change the world from a key board, and Anonymous knows this. You just have to work hard enough for it, so this is what many try to do.”
3.) Hacktivism is a complex term: could you provide a definition of it and what ‘being a hacktivist’ mean?
Answer: “I think my answer to #2 answers your question here.”
4.) The golden age of hacktivism was probably the period 2010-2016. Do you think we are witnessing its decline? If so, what are the reasons behind it?
Answer: “Well it all started with the FBI crackdowns which hit Anonymous very hard prior to 2015. Then we built up again and got mixed in with the whole Russian propagandist and fake news fiasco, so US Congress, Google, Facebook, and the President of the United States literally all teamed up to fight us, because no one knew who we were or what our true motivations were. As a ghostwriter, The Washington Post, Google and Facebook cited my work and the work I sourced to other websites as Russian Propaganda through the prop or not list and nearly all were banned offline/censored. Meanwhile, in real life, I had 3 verified pages on Facebook, 4 inclusions into Google News index and was an American conservative. But that doesn’t matter to them, anyone whom was Anonymous at the time was the enemy – automatically. The 2016 US Presidential election changed the course of history, including for hacktivism. All of our top platforms, pages and websites were essentially attacked and banned offline. Then, when the money stopped flowing in, the platforms shutdown, stopped running and people scattered. By 2017 everything was remnants of the year beforehand and there were no more central points of contacts for random or new people to find us. Anonymous HQ was the biggest Anonymous forum and webchat in the world in 2015-2016, sometimes thousands of people on at a time – millions of views/reads daily. After what Google and Facebook did to us, it was destroyed.
Getting back into hacktivism in 2018/2019 what I am finding is that the death of hacktivism is relative to geography. Meaning in the USA and Europe where it flourished during its Golden Age as you say, it is dead in the USA and Europe now. But on the other hand hacktivism is exploding in the Middle East, Africa, South America and South East Asia. These are also some of the least advanced countries/territories in the world in terms of cyber security, which is a direct correlation to the rise of hacktivism there I think.
For question number 4 I also think you need to look at the age of the people behind the movement. Many were inspired by movies like the Matrix and V for Vendetta. Maybe these people were teenagers or in their early 20s when these movies and these movements came out. The Matrix is 20 years old at this point. If you were 13 then, you are 33 now. If you were 20, you are 40 now. So the older people get the less time they have to play online or do things online because of adult life. Indubitably, this has also led to the death of the movement – the people originally behind it just got too old to keep playing games online and became remedial wage earners like the rest of society and it just kind of fell off.”
** EDITORS NOTE: For the record, it might sound like I am saying Anonymous is dead, but I do not believe this at all, that was just the direction the question took me in that case. **