Anonymous Shifts Battlefield in Mexican Drug Cartel Fight
|Would Pancho Villa have supported Anonymous? Image composite by SecurityNewsDaily|
Despite media reports that the Anonymous hacking collective had called off its planned mission to expose the Zetas, a notorious Mexican drug cartel, the effort will proceed, an unofficial Anonymous spokesman said in a YouTube video.
Barrett Brown, who often acts as the public, unmasked face of the hacking group, said that following an online group discussion and vote, members of Anonymous had decided to press on with OpCartel , its coordinated campaign against the Zetas.
The operation is rooted in securing the release of a Mexican Anonymous member whom the hacking group says was kidnapped by the Zetas.
Brown told SecurityNewsDaily that he is participating in the operation, and said Anonymous was currently carefully working through documents to ensure the group identifies the correct people when it discloses their names and other relevant information.
Even though the lives of Anonymous hacktivists, and anyone who aids them, might be at risk if their identities were somehow exposed to the cartel, Brown said backing off from the challenge does not fall in line with Anonymous' guiding principles.
"The idea that one should not even criticize or bring attention to oneself in the face of some organization is worrisome to me; I don't think it's the right kind of thinking in general," Brown said in the video.
Anonymous announced OpCartel in early October. In a Spanish-language YouTube video, a masked Anonymous representative promised to release the names, photos and addresses of the cartel's members, as well as of the police, politicians and journalists who support them.
In an interview with Gawker, Brown said Anonymous was in possession of 25,000 emails stolen from the Mexican government, which the group will use to expose the cartel's members on Nov. 5.
Anonymous recognizes the weight of such an operation, Brown said, and was taking steps to ensure the security of its members and any supporters in Mexico who wish to give out information about cartel activities, but who don't want to go to the local authorities many of whom, Anonymous contends, are in league with the Zetas.
On its blog, Anonymous Iberoamerica unveiled a new widget that will allow people to submit "completely anonymous complaints relating to acts of crime or news of corrupt officials in your community, which we will investigate."
Brown told SecurityNewsDaily that Anonymous is still working out the details of how it will investigate complaints.
Anonymous Iberoamerica urged supporters to connect to the widget using Web-anonymizing services such as TOR and I2p. Anonymous also told supporters to use a new email accounts and to refrain from giving personal data that might help someone identify them.
"THIS IS NOT A GAME," the group wrote. "Your life and [those of] others may be at risk. Be very careful what you send."
The end goal of OpCartel, Brown told SecurityNewsDaily, is to obtain the release of the kidnapped Anonymous member and to see the Mexican people "arm themselves and rise up against the cartels and their government," although he believes that will not happen soon "no matter what we do."