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Coffee Talk #368: LulzSec — Internet Heroes or Anarchists?


Posted on June 24th, by raymond padilla in Coffee Talk, Geek Stuff, Today's Specials. 25 comments

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, your 2011 NBA draft analysis, Jim Riggleman’s job prospects, or receiving mystical jewelry from dying aliens, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Renowned hacker group LulzSec caused quite a stir when it announced its “Chinga La Migra” initiative on Twitter yesterday. Protesting Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — an anti-illegal immigration measure that encourages racial profiling — LulzSec is fighting the power by releasing classified documents on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt from the text accompanying the torrent:

We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement. We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.

Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust “war on drugs”.

Opinions on the group’s actions are split. Some are hailing LulzSec for using technology to protest a government that devotes too much attention to big-money issues and too little to social reform issues that impact citizens with little power. Others believe that this is a reckless act masquerading as a non-violent protest; the argument is that these leaked documents will lead to innocent law enforcers being harmed or killed.

I’ve been thinking about the issue for the last day and I’m still torn. On one hand, I love that these guys are using technology to make their voice heard. It’s easy to get the government’s attention when you have millions of lobbying dollars to pay off the right politicians (I’m looking at you Comcast, AT&T, etc.). Politicians are slow to act on issues that lack glamour and money like immigration reform.

On the other hand, I’d hate to see a low-ranking officer get killed because of a leaked document. I can’t imagine that everyone that works for the Arizona Department of Public Safety supports SB 1070.

I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. What do you think of LulzSec’s actions? Are they Internet Robin Hoods or Internet anarchists? Are they fighting for people that can’t fight for themselves? Or are they misguided troublemakers?

LulzSec are...

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LulzSec Chinga La Migra Coffee Talk #368: LulzSec    Internet Heroes or Anarchists?





  • Big Blak

    It only makes since that they are doing this because everything is going digital. I for one love what they are doing, exposing corrupt people and such, and also fighting for those who have no voice. With revolutions death is sure to follow, in this case I'm not sure if people will die, but policies may be terminated and over ruled…kind of like the death of a culture or a way of thinking.

  • N8R

    It depends.

    If they stole the documents they're exposing, that's the wrong way to do it. If they used good old fashioned research… more power to them.

    Being a police officer is dangerous to begin with. They knew that when they took the oath. Now, this is the kind of stuff they are going to have to deal with. So they can step up or quit.

    • thundercracker

      i was thinking today about that shooter mcgarvey animated GIF avatar that you made, you won the internet that day, sir

      • N8R

        I still have all of those gifs.

        Some of them in twice the resolution that g4 permitted because it was easier in some cases to create them bigger and shrink them down later.

  • thundercracker

    why cant these guys go after the bankers that destroyed our economy?

    as far as illegals go, i dont think its harrasment if a cop asks you a few questions because you dont speak english and cant provide an ID.

    • bsukenyan

      it's called wikileaks, and it gets a constant barrage of negative attention from the media as well as being placed on a government watchlist visiting the site.

      To answer what N8R said above about doing good old fashioned research to find the information—that's not always possible. I don't know in this case, but I know in the case of wikileaks that information wasn't possible to obtain by means of standard investigation and research. If the people with the information are hiding it, protecting it, and classifying it so that no one can get to it or even know it exists, then it is nearly impossible to find even with the best research methods and practices. Yes it may have been illegal to obtain the documents in whatever way LulzSec did, but that should not overshadow whether it is right or not for the information to be brought to the public eye.

      I'm sure police officers who died during the prohibition but signed up before that was put into effect didn't expect what occurred to actually happen, and I'm sure plenty of officers died in that time. That is a changing of the times and part of the job, just as I would agree was the case in my example of the prohibition.

      • N8R

        I hear what you're saying and I agree, BUT… a good PI is still a valuable thing to have. That's how it was done back in the day.

        Hell, Nixon got busted long before the internet age, right?

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      They did go after banks in previous attacks. I believe Citibank was a recent target.

  • redtailman

    why dont they release information on the idiot politicians? they cause us the most problems

  • smartguy

    So if you only vote for a democrat did Ron Paul's endorsement for the end of federal prohibition of marijuana make you consider a republican?

    Honestly he should be L for libertarian but R it is.

    I like Rob Paul but sometimes I can't decide if he is just really good at politics or is trying to do the right thing.

  • Nightshade386

    As someone who lives out here in AZ, I think they're going about this the wrong way. Let me explain:

    I agree that this is a bad law. But the law doesn't say that they can just pull you over for being Hispanic. They have to have a legitimate reason to pull you over or stop you on the street. But once they have a reason to pull you over that's unrelated, they can then ask for documentation.

    The issue with this is that once they cross that line, they are entering into the realm of racial profiling because they are only asking this of the Hispanic population. just as an example, ee have a number of people from Canada who "winter" here in AZ, most of whom are white. They don't get asked for documentation.

    This law also distracts from the real immigration problem here in AZ. While there may be a number of undocumented people here, if the BUSINESSES would stop hiring them, they wouldn't come here. Also, while police officers are busy raiding McDonalds locations and asking random Hispanics for their papers, the human smugglers are the real problem. This law, (along with most of the efforts of Sheriff Joe in Mericopa County) does not address them at all.

    Now, all that being said, most of the police unions here in AZ came out AGAINST this law for many of the reasons I listed. It is mainly being pushed by the Republican politicians and Sheriffs in Mericopa and Pinal counties. So if this group punishes the officers who are being forced BY LAW to do something that they as a group have lobbied against, they are directing their efforts against the wrong people. This to me, would be akin to blaming the troops for the political decision to invade Iraq. The troops just go where they're ordered.

    Also, as I mentioned earlier, the human smugglers are the real issue. Dealing with these people is EXTREMELY dangerous, and gets our good police officers and Sheriff's deputies killed. The last thing these public servants need to look over their shoulders because some group of hackers doesn't know what they're talking about.

    • thundercracker

      well said nightshade, ty for the insight…this topic is right in your wheelhouse, huh?

      • Nightshade386

        It's local, so to speak.

  • bsukenyan

    I voted for 'whats a lulzsec?' right now only because I'm not familiar with them, and despite my agreement with what they are doing as well as what wikileaks is doing. With that being said I don't know that they should be lauded as internet hero's, or hero's at all for that matter. I think the issue goes deeper than that, they shouldn't even have to do the things they do, but we have a media that is about sensationalism and putting a spin on everything instead of presenting the information. I don't think that what is going on should be considered 'hero like' or 'out of the ordinary,' underground new rebellion—whatever you want to call it—rather, it should be the standard in news.

    • Nightshade386

      There's a huge difference between legitimate news or watchdog behavior and releasing people's home addresses, phone numbers and passwords. That's just showing a disregard for people's personal privacy and safety.

    • N8R

      The news would suck if they just gave the straight information all the time.

      When I was growing up watching Steeler games, we would always turn down the volume on the TV and listen to the radio broadcast with Myron Cope, Bill Hillgrove, and Tunch Ilkin rather than listen to the TV broadcasters. Myron Cope was a Pittsburgh legend before he died. He was an old polish guy who drank way too much all the time and was really only understandable to people who lived in Pittsburgh. This was reason 1.

      After Myron retired (a sad day indeed), We still listened to Bill Hillgrove and Tunch. I realized at that point that when the announcers were also 100% in favor of the Steelers, it made the game even more fun to watch. They were yellin' while we were yellin'.

      I use this anecdote as an example because broadcasting a football game is alot like reporting live news. I found that with certain stories, it's best to check a few news sources. Finding the local news where the news occurs is a good start. And then you will find writers you trust (like Ray).

  • smartguy

    I disagree with the lulz type of crap that they do, like invade minecraft and EVE servers for the lulz. I think something like that diminishes their message or agenda they are undertaking. If they keep it to being a watchdog of sorts then yes, I don't mind what they do one bit. What I don't like is when they run rampant into things like the Bethesda servers and tout how they have 20k or 200k user infos. That only provokes the idiots who are technologically inept sitting in congress to scare monger the mouth breathers and fellow tech-inepts to pass statutes and create agencies to stifle MY rights on the information super highway. It's a damn shame I'm afraid of my govt clamping down on me further due to some guys showing the corrupt crap they the politicos do.

    HOWEVER I do understand why they make the information public. Corporations are hacked all the time. You never hear about it since it could hurt the stock price or lower confidence in a private type of firm. So by being brazen about it they are drawing attention to the fact your information is not kept in high regards and they simply aren't blackmailing for gain.

    Carry on internet.

    • N8R

      -"If they keep it to being a watchdog of sorts then yes, I don’t mind what they do one bit."-

      That sounds like a job for iBatman to me.

      I agree with you to a point. I feel that breaking in to someones computer is similar to breaking in to someone's house. People are very attached to their data and feel it's rather personal (all of us included). So that's just immoral and wrong.

      Breaking in to a business' system, I feel is on par with breaking in to a store and stealing stuff. Once again… not cool.

      These systems though are government systems paid by tax dollars. Should we be free to information regarding our government, I believe so. Should any American be able to access our Nation's internal infrastructure and pull any info they want at any time… I don't think so.

      All that said… I get what their doing and I understand why… but I can't call it the right way to fight the man. Not to mention that this particular group already has a bad rep to begin with. All the work they put forth on it could be for nothing very easily.

      • smartguy

        @N8

        Unfortunately lobbying $$$ from huge places (Comcast, TW, insert business here) is too powerful. Our press/news has decided to choose sides in politics instead of being the public watchdogs they were given constitutional protections for. So now we have come to this. Hackers breaking in to public officials files to show us what they are doing. If the press would stop asking pre screened questions and softball questions then maybe this wouldn't be necessary.

        You and I are in agreement about the whole thing really. I just said it differently. Although, surprisingly, I'm more ok with their method than you this time. Odd. :)

        • N8R

          It is odd. Sticking it to the man is one of my favorite pastimes.

          I just think there's a right and a wrong way to do it. Woodward and Bernstein found a leak (to use the Nixon example I used earlier) found a leak and I truly believe that methods like that are still usable and valid.

          Nobody has to break into a network to find out about Monica Lewinsky (my spell check recognizes "Lewinsky", lol) or Anthony Weiner.

  • Lunias

    "We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal email correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement."

    In other words, we don't like the government, so we're screwing them over by releasing private information of govt. officials. So, yes, that is anarchy. What they are doing is wrong, even if done for the right reasons.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      The group called it quits today, but I imagine a new group will arise.

      • Lunias

        I saw that. Apparently, one of the guys that ran their servers was arrested, too.

  • smartguy

    Why aren't there more coop/multiplayer rpgs in the diablo vein? I'm having a blast playing Borderlands and now that I'm looking for the next thing there seems to be nothing worth mentioning that isn't an FPS.

    Oh well…time to install D2 again.

  • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

    Very much lost respect for the group as "hacktivists" for calling it quits after 50 days. They look like slackers now. If they really wanted to make a difference and stand for something then they would have kept at it. Instead they feed into stereotypes people have about young people being all talk, having short attention spans, etc.