Battles in cyberspace: Anonymous vs Scientology

William Gibson, considered by many to be the father of cyperpunk, has written recent novels in the present time as we’re almost in a cyberpunk world alreadyWhen the first cyberpunk writers picked up their pens in the eighties and wrote about conflict acted out over computer networks, it seemed like a lifetime away. In recent years we’ve seen internet attacks on Estonia and on power infrastructure. Countless griefers, hackers and virus-creators have found a way to virtually attack others.

Now it seems there’s something akin to a war on in one corner of the internet. A number of individuals calling themselves ‘Anonymous’ have posted a series of videos on Youtube decrying the Church/Cult of Scientology and what they call its manipulation of its followers. In related moves, a number of high profile Scientology websites were attacked by hackers and taken down. The Anonymous group seems to be using many of the techniques used by Alternate Reality Games like World Without Oil or Perplex City to create a campaign against elements of the real world.

It’s very reminiscent of the blending between virtuality and reality seen in Charles Stross’ Halting State. You can find Anonymous’s original message to Scientology video here and their reply to the media interest here on Warren Ellis’ blog. A new video was released yesterday explaining some more of the group’s message, in particular making it clear they are not just a group of hackers. It also warns of protests against Scientology on the 10th February. Whoever is doing it and for what reason, it’s a fascinating example of just how different our world(s) are now compared to even a few years ago.

[via Elizabeth Bear, image via Wikipedia’s page on William Gibson’s Spook Country]

16 thoughts on “Battles in cyberspace: Anonymous vs Scientology”

  1. And they picked the wrong church/cult to go after. I imagine with scientology’s funds and zealous supporters, the battle will only get more intense. They’d probably have better luck against the Catholic Church.

  2. I don’t know, Jeremy – the Catholic Church has the legitimacy that its history provides, if nothing else. Scientology doesn’t have many allies yet – and indeed organisations like the Catholics would probably rather support Anonymous. “The enemy of my enemy …”, right?

    But I agree with Tomas – this is the sort of sf plot that I read as a younger man and was blown away by. Now every time I open a web connection it’s playing out in front of me. And while I doubt that Anonymous are the nicest and most balanced people on Earth, they couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of scumbags*.

    (*At least, not a more deserving bunch they stood any chance against, that is.)

  3. This is the combination of the ideally dispersed attacker versus the spectacularly easy-to-despise money machine cult. Anon has the resources there will almost more anons and volunteers to hack away at xenuism, whereas scientology has access to unswervingly dedicated drones, money and a slick predatorial organisation. The public will regard either as unsympthatetic (anonymous hackers versus a spooky cult) but in the end this will be an atrition war that may very quickly turn really sour.

    Anon should simply keep on exposing scientology secrets, posting interviews, barraging relentlessly, dragging open the cesspool. There are enough skeletons in the Scientology closets to cause a serious stink. The best strategy for scientology is in the legal system. It may even try to portray Anon as a terrorist cell – but that may backfire really bad.

    For the time being I stocked up on popcorn. I will enjoy watching this unfold.

  4. Scientology’s got a surplus of crazed, ultra-wealthy backers. I mean, yeah there’s Opus Dei, but they can’t even keep Tom Hanks in tweed from ruining their plans.

  5. Jeremy, Anonymous is targeting Scientology and not the Catholic church for some simple reasons.

    1. Scientology claims to be a religion and uses laws to avoid taxes. They also claim to be a business and use copyright and patent laws to shut down websites, sue people, and to keep anyone from saying anything about them.

    2. They commit grievous human rights violations including but not limited to mind control, torture, imprisonment, and more of their members.

    3. They compare psychology and psychologists to torturers, Nazis, and criminals. They use lies, mistruths, and anything they can to reinforce this view.

    4. They are a cult not a religion, they obey no authority but their own and are damaging to society.

    But putting aside the reasons for a moment. Anon is not just a group of hackers. They are also normal men and women. There are no leaders, no cells, no central point. Each and every person has a separate moral compass and in this instance they all point the same direction. We act in our own way asking permission from none, there is no hierarchy, no organization, all are equal.

    While some commit illegal acts there are many more who do things legally and within the law.

    On February tenth there will be Real World instances of Anons war against this cult.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. We are legion. Signed, Anonymous

  6. Now, we need to support anonymous to the fullest extent, they are contending against a very powerful organization which posses numerous resources. Support the little man, and give scientology the back-hand!

  7. For anyone who saw the The “Anonymous vs. the Catholic Church” videos on YouTube – these do not reflect the opinions or planned actions of “Anonymous.” Our focus is on the “Church” of Scientology. A post on Anonymous’s “Enturbulation” forum was made by someone who spotted this video to make the rest of us aware of it. The video has been flagged and will hopefully be removed soon.

    The person that made the fake video is most likely either someone out to stir up trouble, or one of the Scientologists themselves attempting to spread their black propaganda. Regardless of which one is the case, as the user who posted the video is screening comments, none of the true Anonymous are able to speak out for themselves – and if you look at any of Anonymous’s other videos you WILL notice Anonymous rallying either for a cause (i.e. “EPIC WIN”) or against it (i.e. “Fail video is fail,” “Not your personal army”), making this video even more suspect.

    There will be no protest on March 23 or 28 against Catholicism. The Anonymous anti-Co$ protests will take place worldwide on March 15. Not about beliefs, but about child labour, ‘disconnection’ from families, civil and human rights abuses, mysterious deaths and suicides, mental and physical abuse, enforced abortions, the pyramid selling scheme… The protest is about the corrupt core of Scientology, not the beliefs of its followers.

  8. There is further evidence that Scientologists are behind vandalizm of a Jewish Community Center, which was attempted to “frame” Anonymous. The pictures are also here at THIS LINK

  9. There is no reason for Anonymous to be classified as a hategroup. Look what Westboro Baptist Ministries is saying about them AT THIS LINK it is a shame. Do not let them ruin Anonymous for you!


  10. Scientology assigns sea org members, who often live at Scientology sites and are paid slave wages, to patrol the internet and spread disinformation. Any discussion concerning Scientology or Scientologists will eventually be invaded by these poor, brain-washed cult members. Anonymous is not interested in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not a cult. Anonymous’ sole objective is to oppose Scientology and free it’s members from their tyranny. More and more upper level Scientologists are defecting. Scientologys numbers are shrinking. We are winning and we will never stop fighting until Scientology’s tax free status is revoked and they are regulated, like any business, by the government.

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