A Screen-Shot to Remember

I’m posting this because I think in the future it will be considered valuable – like the menus aboard the Titanic or an original poster promoting Woodstock – as a slice of reality from a historic moment. I’m posting it the same reason I kept my press pass for the 2009 Iranian elections, during which, by the way, I often saw screens just like it, as the regime there realised how dangerous the net could be.

We have seen another cyber-war, again against fact, being waged over the last few days. I do not have the knowledge or technical understanding to try and detail that war, but I hope someone who does has already started their research.

I do know that Wiki-leaks came down, then re-appeared at a changed address. The data was, by that stage, replicated on hundreds mirror sites that had sprung up like spot-fires all over the Internet.

Some Bolivia-related documents are even available on the homepage of Vice president of Bolivia, along with the quote “La verdad os hará libres -Juan 8,32”. This translates to; “The truth shall set you free” (John 8.32) .

The hacker group Anon have declared war on business such as Amazon and Paypal which cut of services to Wikileaks, and are said to be bombarding their sites with fake traffic, raising hosting costs. They have even managed to take down the website of the Swiss bank that froze one of the organisations accounts.

Online flier distributed

Anon Declare War

We have seen what looks like co-operation between twitter and wikileaks’s enemies to keep #wikileaks and other tags such as #iamwikileaks out of officil lists of “trending topics” despite the fact that’s exactly what they are.

There is a growing sense that, as journalist and blogger Tad Tietze (@Dr_Tad) tweeted “This is a Dubya-9/11 moment in reverse: You’re either with #Wikileaks or you’re with the state terrorists.”

More significantly, however, than such online tribalism, will be the continuous flow of information that it seems even the worlds most powerful nations cannot bring to a halt. It is this information that shall lay bare, among other things, the conduct of US foreign policy over the preceding decades.  This, I dearly hope, is a case where you cannot observe something without it being affected. That said, the level of effect this information has is entirely up to us as a global public. What are we going to do with it?

Equally important as the content of this information, however, is the threat of future leaks on this scale, hanging like a sword of Damocles over the heads of governments. It might make them a little more cautious about plotting behind their publics’ backs. Perhaps, if the moment is properly seized, this could be the beginning of a real change to our political culture. Again, that depends on what happens now – on what we do.

A good start would be attend one of these rallies or one like it wherever you are. If one isn’t organised, you could take the lead.

Feels to me like the Twenty-First Century just kicked into gear.





*Note, this post has been edited twice. Once on November 9 to include the Anon flier, and once on the  11th to remove the word “Australian” from the sentence “Australian hacker group Anon”. My bad. Anon are of the internets.


About Austin G. Mackell

I am a freelance journalist who has worked for a variety of corporate and community outlets from my hometown of Sydney and from the Middle East, including from Lebanon during Israels 2006 invasion and from Iran during the tumultuous presidential elections there in 2009. I have recently moved to Cairo to watch the revolutions in Arab world unfold.
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