Why Anonymous's Spokesman Is Quitting the Hacker Group

Barrett Brown tells Ars Technica why he left and what his plans are for the future

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One of the best-known spokespersons for Anonymous has parted ways with the hacker group to form his own collective aimed at more noble global causes. Barrett Brown, who's spoken on behalf of the group on NBC Nightly News during its cyber wars with credit card companies, told Ars Technica about his plans for future "hacktivist" pursuits and why he left Anonymous.

Brown seems put off by the group's latest priorities--including attacking videogame maker Sony for suing a customer who modified his PlayStation. The mission, codenamed OpSony, pales in comparison to previous efforts, according to Brown, which include assisting revolutionaries in North Africa to topple corrupt regimes.  "As things like OpSony arise, you attract a lot of people whose interest is in fucking with video game companies--which is not to say that there aren't legitimate reasons for OpSony," he says. "But to the extent that someone sits things out when we're working to promote liberty and fight dictatorships but then hops on board when we start going after an electronics firm that's perpetrated far lesser villainy, one has to question those peoples' priorities."

Brown tells Ars he's going to shed the Anonymous banner and start working "with people who are themselves still very much associated with Anonymous and AnonOps in particular."  That decision comes on the heels of a rash of infighting at Anonymous following a rogue member's decision to hijack an Internet Relay Chat channel, which is the primary means with which Anonymous members communicate with one another.

On Monday, Brown told Threatpost he'd grown weary of the infighting. "I'm tired of drama," he said. "You've got kids fighting for control of an IRC channel. I'm a researcher. I'm into revolutionary stuff. But there are other people for whom its about exerting power." He said he recruited about two dozen Anonymous members to expose corporate and government bias in the media and root out "criminality and corruption" in the U.S. The Threatpost article labels Anonymous "leaderless" at a time when it's preoccupied with denying a very serious allegation by Sony that it hacked into its system, compromising the private information of up to 100 million customers. But Barrett tells Ars there's no looking back. After his involvement in the Arab Spring uprisings, he's committed to continuing pro-democracy, anti-corruption activities. "What I saw and did... convinced me that these sorts of efforts can and should be used to channel dissatisfaction with injustice into concrete action." Beyond that, Ars reports that he's scored writing gigs with The Guardian, Vanity Fair and is working on "pieces" for Al-Jazeera.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.