The Guy Fawkes Mask and Anonymous

A Lesson in History

Anonymous is an organization of hackers that formed in 2003 on the website 4chan (a website where people can post comments and images “anonymously”). The Hacktivist group has no central singular representation and has been described as an “internet gathering” by most and are distinguished by the wearing of the infamous Guy Fawkes mask.

The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylized representation of the infamous Guy Fawkes who was involved in the gunpowder plot. The Gunpowder plot of 1605, was a failed endeavor to assassinate King James I of England and IV of Scotland by blowing up the House of Lords in London on the 5th of November, in order to restore a Catholic Head of State. Information on the plot was disclosed to the authorities in anonymous letter on the 26th of October and during a search, Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators was caught guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar of the House of Lords.

Similarly Anonymous attacks people and organizations that are unjust to the public. They believe in the freedom of speech and promote unimpeded access to information and transparency in government and corporate activities. Anonymous member, a.k.a Anons don the Guy Fawkes mask that was designed to be a symbol of protest against tyranny in a graphic novel that was produced by David Lloyd and Alan Moore called V for Vendetta. Today, the mask has become the face of post-modern protest.

 

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– One of the first attacks that made worldwide news was the groups attack on Scientology. The group attacked Scientology websites and released secret documents on the church because they believed the Church was spreading misinformation about Scientology using internet censorship.

– In 2010, Anonymous also attacked PayPal because they suspended the WikiLeaks’ account so the anti-secrecy site could no longer receive online donations. This attack brought down the PayPal website for an hour on December 8th and for another brief period on the 9th which cost the company around 5.5 million.

– The other widely known attack was “Operation Darknet”, where they took down 40 child pornography websites in 2011 and posted account details on all its users.

– Anonymous also took down the Sony Playstation Network in April 2011 and personal details on approximately 77 million users were stolen forcing Sony to turn off PSN.  The group declared war on Sony after it claimed that the current Sony vs George Hotz lawsuit is an attack on free speech and that Sony is abusing customer’s rights through its relentless legal assault on the PS3 jailbreaker.

Anonymous has been gaining reputation ever since the attack on Scientology in 2008. They have gained a lot of supporters since, for they act in public interest.  The Guy Fawkes mask works well with their popularity, for you can’t kill an idea.
 

References:

B Kelley. Michael, (2013) Here’s A Factory Where Those Iconic Guy Fawkes Masks That So Many Protesters Wear Are Manufactured. [Online] Available from:  http://www.businessinsider.com/where-guy-fawkes-masks-come-from-2013-7. [Accessed: 1/04/2016]

Ough. Tom, (2015) Anonymous: How the Guy Fawkes mask became an icon of the protest movement. [Online] Available from: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/anonymous-how-the-guy-fawkes-mask-became-an-icon-of-the-protest-movement-a6720831.html’. [Accessed: 1/04/2016]
O’Brien. Mike, (2015) How Guy Fawkes, the man who tried to murder a king and a government became a symbol of anti-capitalist protesters across the globe. [Online] Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058020/How-Guy-Fawkes-masks-symbol-anti-greed-protests-globe.html. [Accessed: 1/04/2016]

 

 

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