The US claims to have conducted a huge raiding operation, resulting in the arrest of 16 suspects related to the hacking collective Anonymous.
According to the Wall Street Journal, British and Dutch police have also arrested five people, together. The charges relate to attacks on PayPal last year, responding to its decision to block Wikileaks donations.
Arresting the involved parties may or may not have an impact on the group’s operations. The FBI will want the arrests to serve as serious warning to other hacktivists who are planning to join the fray. However, the nature of Anonymous, or at least the image it maintains, is that – as with Big Content leaning heavily on piracy websites – others will replace the arrested. The banner under which the hackers work give away its most vital strength: it aims to be anonymous.
The majority of the 16 arrested were men in their early 20s and 30s. According to the Wall Street Journal, the online aliases include Toxic, Absolem and Reaper.
Internationally co-ordinated arrests in defence of an American company raises some eyebrows. Wikileaks leaked cables revealed that the US forced Sweden’s hand on its reluctance to crack down on the Pirate Bay and other pirates. Similarly, critics say lobbying is rife in the Big Content industry to influence policy and have the US bully governments which do not agree with its views.
Rather than running scared, Anonymous will probably be reassured that it is doing something right. If Paypal and corporate America was not feeling unstable or worried, it wouldn’t be dedicating resources to coordinating large operations like this in the first place.