Disguised Member of "Anonymous" Defends Action Against BART's Anti-Protest Censorship
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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."
AMY GOODMAN: As we talk about what happened at the BART stations in San Francisco and then take this global, we are turning to a closer look at a shadowy hacker activist group known as Anonymous. The group made headlines again this weekend when it hacked into the BART website mybart.org and leaked the names, phone numbers and passwords of passengers in retaliation for BART’s decision to shut down cell phone service at the four stations last week. Anonymous dubbed the campaign OpBART. This is a part of the message posted on YouTube about the operation.
ANONYMOUS OPBART MESSAGE: Today, we’ve seen America come alive. In the Bay Area, we’ve seen people gagged. And once more, Anonymous will attempt to show those engaging in censorship what it feels like to be silenced. Operation BART is an operation geared toward balance, toward learning. You do not censor people because they wish to speak out against the wrongful occurrences around them. The Bay Area Rapid Transit has made the conscious decision of ordering various cell phone companies to terminate services for the downtown area, inhibiting those in the area from using cell phones, even in the case of an emergency. To BART, we will not tolerate censorship. We will do everything in our power to parallel the actions of censorship that you have chosen to engage in. We are a legion. We will be free to speak out against you when you try to cover up crimes.
AMY GOODMAN: A video message posted online by hacktivist group Anonymous.
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 countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Syria.
In recent months, law enforcement agencies across the world have begun cracking down on the hackers. In July, 16 suspected members of Anonymous were arrested across the United States. Police in the Netherlands, Britain, Australia, Spain and Turkey have also made arrests over the past year.
We are going to first go to an anonymous member of Anonymous, who joins us now. He’s calling himself X. He was at the BART protest last night, has been up for two days working on the collective’s response to BART’s action shutting down the internet and phone system at four stations.
Welcome to Democracy Now! I understand that it’s not going to be easy to understand you, because your voice is kind of encrypted, disguised for security reasons, but tell us what it is that you did in response to BART’s action.
X: Well, I think the video summed it up. We gave them a little taste of their own medicine. We began with a campaign that we call a black fax and an email bomb, and that’s basically—we took every inbox at the BART—I don’t know—organization, whatever, several hundred inboxes, both email and fax, and we filled them with thousands and thousands of copies of our message of indignation at their act.