CyberWars: The On-line Empire Strikes Back

When is the last time you saw a group of liberal activists join hands with conservatives? In the real world, partisanship is a commodity that pays high dividends. In the cybersphere however, the highest dividends are paid when ideologies melt away and activists join hands to defeat a a common enemy. Recently the U.S. Government has been designated the biggest enemy. 

In 2012 hundreds of thousands of Internet activists coalesced to form a global resistance to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The act was hailed by politicians as a way to fight piracy, but the regulations and punishments for something as inconsequential as downloading a song were so severe and so draconian it led many to believe its passage would destroy the free Internet. The on-line resistance to SOPA was so intense the bill was shelved as was it’s sister, PIPA, also a regulation heavy bill. The success of the anti-SOPA/PIPA movement had never been seen  before and opened the door for a new wave of activism.

After SOPA’s defeat it was thought to be unlikely  a similar cause would ever rise again. Then came the Snowden revelations. Terabytes of information exposing the United State’s mass surveillance programs set the cybersphere afire. Edward Snowden’s “David & Goliath” style story, combined with the near daily scream worthy revelations were a perfect combination for a new cyber rebellion. The chance was not wasted. 

February 11th, 2014 was titled “The Day we Fight Back.” The date was chosen to commemorate the suicide of prolific down-loader Aaron Swartz. The goal of the 2/11/14 action to was two-fold; show the U.S. government that the Internet will no longer support mass surveillance and two, encourage people to support to the “USA FREEDOM ACT.” The USFA is hailed as a codified curtailing of the NSA and mass surveillance. As the day wore on, rumors of fight back operations spread through the Internet. Several on-line services displayed a unique banner (like the one above) indicating their support for fight back. Within the cyber rumorsphere there were whispers of DDOS attacks and phone re-routing although at this point they remain rumors.

It will take several weeks and possibly months to know the full impact of fight back. It is likely businesses and/or government offices will refuse to release DDOS information until several weeks have passed. Either way, the sheer amount of participants will give supporters enough leeway to pronounce the day a success. In any case, the rise of on-line activism continues and the crescendo shows no sign of slowing.