Paywall Puts Anonymous And WikiLeaks At Odds
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Anonymous, that band of hackers known for attacking both companies and countries alike, has this week taken issue with an organization they once “fought” to protect. When MasterCard, PayPal and Visa pulled their support for Julian Assange´s WikiLeaks, Anonymous jumped into the fray and brought the sites for MasterCard and Visa to their knees.
It´s likely now the cybernauts who make up Anonymous now feel as if Julian Assange has become “The Man” after setting up a paywall this week on his WikiLeaks site. Shortly after, representatives of Anonymous began crying foul all over Twitter.
When the Paywall was put in place on the WikiLeaks page on Wednesday, it was reportedly minimally obtrusive and relatively easy to get around. Furthermore, the initial paywall didn´t block access to any files, only asking for users to “Vote with your wallet” before entering, capitalizing on this year´s American elections.
Members of Anonymous were instantly upset by this plea for money and, in a beautiful moment of irony, began taking WikiLeaks to task over issues of ethics. After the fighting had broken out on Wednesday, WikiLeaks confirmed their paywall was not only intentional, but also easily circumvented, either by sharing the page or simply waiting a few minutes. In an interesting move, WikiLeaks supporters were once again allowed to vote with their MasterCard or Visa. Later that evening, the WikiLeaks paywall came down, which sent Anonymous to issue their vote of approval once more.
These happy times were short lived, however, as the paywall was soon put in place again, just hours later. This time, the paywall was on every page. This outraged members of Anonymous, sending them to declare “war” on WikiLeaks, threatening to withdraw their support.
On Thursday, a representative for Anonymous gave a statement explaining their anger with Assange, saying their choices to attack companies in the name of WikiLeaks left some of their group in jail.
“To this day, not ONE single WikiLeaks staff are charged or incarcerated. However, Anonymous has 14 indicted (facing 15 years) for online protests defending WikiLeaks – and one (Jeremy Hammond) in prison and facing 20 years for allegedly supplying the Stratfor GI Files.”
“Lastly, regardless of any workarounds, the fact remains that a meretricious page is placed for the majority of visitors that cannot be closed. The obvious intention is to force donations in exchange for access. This is a filthy and rotten, wholly un-ethical action – and Anonymous is enraged.”
The hackers left with the final “threat,” of “WikiLeaks we gave you a chance, now it’s too late to EXPECT US.”
Assange, on the other hand, has defended his actions, saying, “these donations go to fund WikiLeaks’ publishing and infrastructure costs and our legal costs to fight the financial blockade.”
WikiLeaks´ status as media is protecting them from any attacks from Anonymous, however, as the hacking group says they will never attack any media group. They did, however, say they would no longer support Assange or WikiLeaks, as well as promising to release “a detailed dossier of all the un-ethical actions perpetrated by WikiLeaks that we have ignored for so long.”
At the time of this writing, the paywall is no longer viewable on WikiLeaks.org.