aaron barr, defcon, and anonymity

Really excellent article on ThreatPost from Aaron Barr: “Five Questions About Aaron Barr’s DEFCON (by Aaron Barr).” I must say, it is very well-written and he’s definitely got a brain in his head, but it’s nice to see him in and amongst people of the sort that attend Defcon (not that we’re that much different these days than any other group) and hear him talk to and learn more about the more greyish side of Anonymous and security and people in general, rather than just Washington boy clubs. His tentative behavior at Defcon is a bit amusing.

As many commentors pick up on, I don’t necessarily agree with his views in question 4 about anonymity, but I think he does a great job in illustrating the two sides of the problem: freedom vs criminal intent. While I may disagree, that doesn’t mean I have a better answer or argument to spit out. I think he and I would simply differ on our acceptable middle ground; where he’d prefer less anonymity, I’d prefer more, despite wide agreement on discussion points.

I like some points in #5 as well, as I really don’t think it is possible to have a better Anonymous. Wouldn’t that like asking for a better 4chan? The very concept steals away what they are, which is unfortunate. It is quite possible that Anonymous is a great idea, but is actually corrupted by that very anonymity and decentralized leadership. On the other hand, I do think we need the sort of greyish societal function that Anonymous fills. The function is important, even if the group itself fades into childishness. It’s kind of like making a statement through graffiti, but eventually losing sight of the point and instead just throwing graffiti everywhere no matter how dangerous (Stop signs?) or silly, just because you can.

Then again, I wonder how many activist groups like this ever *don’t* fall into that problem of slope-slipping? It’s probably more pronounced when you talk about less personal accountability… Still, this does happen with protests where sheer numbers help promote anonymity, or masks/hoods, or something.

The one item I thought Barr would bring up in point 5, but doesn’t, though, was how the efforts of Anonymous to poke at poor security may in fact give fuel to world/national leaders to reduce internet anonymity. Sort of like a child protesting his being grounded…ends up being grounded for longer with even worse punishments.