Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy – The Many Faces of Anonymous – Gabriella Coleman (9/10)

Recommended to me by a colleague, as a must read, in September. I am very glad that I received this recommendation. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is an amazing journey, written in a simple and well structured narrative, that is by turns serious, anarchic, amusing and terrifying – but not for the reasons you might at first suspect.

Horrifying because it shows the hypocrisy of governments who are only too happy to use the tools and tactics they publicly legislate against and prosecute citizens for. Anarchic because these netizens and idealists believe that free speech should not  be granted but is required for the proper functioning of a modern democracy. Serious because of the nature of the support that these activists provided to the Arab spring, both from a hardware and software perspective. Amusing because of the hijinks and antics of this crew of misfits who see haughtiness and corporate malfeasance as a source for outstanding pranks and retribution.

The book was not a speed read. I had to constantly put it down and think my way through a lot of what I was reading. I am unashamedly a supporter of human rights; the last 25 years have been  a time of great growth but also troubling growth. Privacy has been the first casualty of the internet age. Corporate and government greed for our information has been allowed to run unchecked. Anonymous has however made a dent in that armour, and a serious one. While not white knights in any sense, the collective that is Anonymous provides a measure against which we can all relate. There is no middle ground though. You’ll either be for them (I am) or against them.

A great read. Thinking is required. Do it! You know you want to!

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