Anonymous Distances Itself from a Chamber of Commerce Data Dump

The "hackitivist" group is defending itself against a dubious leak

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On Friday evening, someone using the Twitter handle Septscelles put up a link to a 1.2-gigabyte torrent of documents--Word files, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, and so forth. Septscelles says these documents come from the Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinac Center, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The leak was initially reported as having come from the "hacktivist" group Anonymous, but member and sometime spokesman Barrett Brown says that Septscelles is unaffiliated with the group. In an interview with The Tech Herald, Brown describes Septscelles as "someone I'd never heard of," and at the Anonymous forum AnonNews, Brown writes that "I had nothing to do with this and immediately raised suspicions about it."

Suspicions? Well, yes--Brown has reason to believe the new cache of documents isn't totally on the level. Recall that when Anonymous released a bunch of documents from the cyberintelligence group Team Themis, those files described various strategies for discrediting watchdog groups--including creating "false documents" and "fake insider personas." So Septscelles may be a concerned citizen who values transparency, or, as another posting at AnonNews puts it, he or she may be trying to "discredit Anonymous through a campaign of misinformation."

Having said that, it doesn't seem like Septscelles's torrent contains much that's earth-shattering. According to the AnonNews posting, "early research has thus far shown that this information is publicly available through a simple Google search." Muskegon Critic at Daily Kos agrees, characterizing it as "all publicly available info, just all conveniently packaged into one file. Lots of court docs. A massive collection of union contracts. Screenshots of University websites that speak positively about unions."

We'll keep an eye on this story and let you know if more develops, or if it is in fact, as a commenter at The Agonist puts it, "a big nothing-burger."

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