Tuesday, August 16, 2011
2011-08-15 Anonymous - "OpBART"
2011-08-16 "Scenes from #opBART: video of the Civic Center protests" by Shawn Gaynor from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper
Protesters shut down afternoon rush hour BART operations on Aug. 15 as part of a campaign by international hacker group Anonymous in response to the transit agency's unprecedented move to shut off cell service to prevent a protest. Here's footage from underground at Civic Center Station, and on the street as stranded commuters sought a way home [Video by Shawn Gaynor]:
This is the Civil-Rights movement!!!
And this movement of the people is never popular in that it takes risks to bring to light todays social inequities. None of you who prosper from the mad game of capitalism will ever understand what it is to see your own brother shot coldly by the police in front of your eyes for no criminal reason. Activists who are not engaged in civil-disobedience are still being violently targeted by the police for nothing more than engaging in research about police brutality: Guy Jarreau's mother in Vallejo, for example... Fly Benzo in San Francisco's Bay View... if nobody stands up to protect our neighbors, then this country doesn't stand a chance at upholding our freedom against Tyranny!
2011-08-15 "Anonymous BART Protest Shuts Down Several Underground Stations" by Damon Poeter
Supporters of Anonymous took to the streets and subways Monday to rally against BART's suspension of cell phone service during a previous protest, forcing police to shut down several BART and Muni underground stations in San Francisco.
"I'm here to fight censorship and shutting down people's right to protest with cellphone usage," said one Anonymous supporter wearing the global activist and hacking collective's trademark Guy Fawkes mask to protect his identity.
Gathering at about 5pm PT at the UN Plaza near the Civic Center BART and Muni station, the protestors began marching northeast on Market Street towards Powell station at about 5:25pm, right around the time that SFPD and BART police officers emerged from Civic Center station to inform that public that the station was being shut down for safety reasons.
Later, as the protestors descended upon Powell station about three blocks away, that station was also shut down. Several more stations on Market street were reportedly shut down temporarily, but all had been reopened as of Monday evening.
Cell phone service on BART remained active during Monday's protest.
Last week, Bay Area transit authorities shut down underground cell phone service on BART trains and platforms during a protest over the shootings of two men by BART police. BART authorities said they shut down cell service last Thursday from 4-7pm in an attempt to prevent protest organizers from communicating and organizing via mobile devices.
They have maintained their right to conduct such actions to protect public safety.
But protestors like the several hundred or so that Anonymous rallied Monday in just about 24 hours say hindering people's ability to communicate while organizing protests amounts to a violation of free speech.
While dozens of protestors at the San Francisco event wore masks of some sort, many more of the people on hand wore no masks. And while the event was ostensibly organized by Anonymous to protest the cell phone shutdown, chants yelled by the crowd as it marched down Market Street were clearly aimed at BART police for a series of incidents in recent years that have left suspects injured and dead.
Anonymous on Sunday hacked the mybart.org website, defacing some Web pages and also publishing user emails, phone numbers, addresses, and login credentials. Critics of the hacktivist group say the data dump shows that Anonymous has little regard for innocents caught in the cross-fire of its various battles.
Justin Minnich, an Anonymous supporter at the San Francisco protest, defended Anonymous' tactics.
"There always is [collateral damage] but that's like any battle you take, if you stand up against anything, if you believe in something, if you fight a fight, there's going to be collateral damage," Minnich said.
"There's collateral damage on their side," he added, pointing to several BART police and SFPD officers at Civic Center station about 15 minutes before they shut it down, along with Powell station on Market Street.
"They consider what they're doing is right, protecting people, serving the community. Well obviously there's collateral damage on their side, there's people getting shot."
A counter-protestor at Civic Center station who identified himself only as Robert carried a sign claiming that Anonymous "used to be cool." He said hacking websites was "teenage stuff" and that Anonymous, which he claimed to have once been a part of, should be focused on more serious targets.
"I've done things with Anonymous in the past and this strikes me as scraping the bottom of the barrel," Robert said of the BART protest. "Anonymous seems to be going through some teething problems right now, it's got this newfound freedom, from anonymity on the Internet, and it's using it for picking on targets that really shouldn't be taking up their time.
"I think the hacking of websites and the release of private information is ridiculous and we shouldn't be wasting our time on those things. We should be dealing with the perpetrators of the biggest problems we have to deal with right now, the financial crisis, militarism, all these other things that are valid targets."
Photographs by Anna Vignet.
2011-08-15 "Waves of protest pound at BART, shutting down stations" by Shawn Gaynor from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper
The latest battle between BART and its growing group of grassroots foes played out during today’s (Mon/15) afternoon rush hour, shutting down some San Francisco stations.
What started as a fizzled anti-police brutality protest at BART's Civic Center station has spiraled into a San Francisco moment with echoes of the Arab Spring and V For Vendetta. Following an unprecedented decision by BART officials to preemptively cut off cell phone service on August 11, in a bid to disrupt a protest that never developed, public outrage led to further protest today and a hacking attack on MyBart.org by the notorious international hacker group Anonymous over the weekend.
BART stated that it cut cell service to several of its stations during the evening commute on August 11 as a matter of public safety, fearing what officials characterized as a civil disturbance. BART did not return our call for comment, but it was apparently worried about a repeat of the July 11 protest that flooded Civic Center BART station at rush hour, preventing trains from leaving the station platform. At issue in that protest and the one that never materialized on August 11 was the fatal shooting of Charles Hill by BART police on July 3, on the Civic Center BART station train platform [http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/07/07/rally-planned-protest-latest-bart-shooting] [http://www.sfbg.com/2011/07/27/anger-erupts-over-police-shootings].
Today’s protests to disrupt rush hour BART service threatened by Anonymous materialized out of the rush hour crowd. Protestors, some in Guy Faulks masks, some with bloody shirts, spoke into cell phones repeating, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” over and over and over.
Upset by what they characterized as BART's record of police brutality, and the recent disruption of cell phone service, they poured into the station as the platform swelled to capacity.
One protestor stood silently with a shirt that read, “Dear BART, you can't take away our ability to call 911 while also making it a habit to shoot your riders.”
“It's incredibly ironic to squelch free speech in San Francisco, which has long been a bastion of civil liberties,” said Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation who was on hand for the protest.
Others sat on the platform floor, making messages on little red hearts decrying the shooting of Hill. A yellow handbill from #ObBART, the Anonymous name for the protest, even decried BART's record and free speech.
Some began to block trains from exiting the platforms, promoting riot police to move in and clear people away. After a half-hour, BART Police Sgt. Coosndz ordered the protestors to clear the platform.
Protesters peaceably complied, spreading out through the Market Street corridor and causing closures at other nearby stations.
“No arrests were made on the platform and the protesters have peaceably dispersed,” Sgt. Macaulay of the BART police told the Guardian later.
BART officials said they did not shut down in-station cell service during the protest, which hardly seemed relevant as the stations were closed. On the street, amidst the stranded rush hour commuters it was difficult to tell who was protesting, with small groups of protesters gathering vocally but briefly and then melding back into the crowd.
Though inconvenient, the protest took the form of perhaps the most civil of civil disturbances the city has seen surrounding the police brutality issue – a stark contrast to some of the recent tense stand-offs between police and protesters.
One BART official struggled to keep up with a stream of people on the corner of Market and Montgomery trying to find another way home. “People have been very understanding,” he said while catching his breath for a minute.
As of press time, well beyond the normal evening commute hours, BART stations throughout the city’s downtown remained closed.
According to the ACLU of Northern California, “BART is the first known government agency in the United States to block cell service in order to disrupt a political protest.”
As often happens in unprecedented cases, the legality of BART's cell service disruption has been widely debated. BART asserts that it was with its rights to disrupt phone service.
“Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions,” the agency said in an official statement.
Some have said that view constitutes prior restraint, and a breach of Federal Communications Commission cell service regulations, while others have suggested that BART may have been within its rights.
“Cell phone service has not always been available in BART stations. The advent of reliable service inside of stations is relatively recent,” acknowledged Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for free speech in the realm of electronic communication. “But once BART made the service available, cutting it off in order to prevent the organization of a protest constitutes prior restrain on the free speech rights of every person in the station, whether they’re a protestor or a commuter.”
Michael Rifher, staff attorney ACLU of Northern California, was less sure BART's actions crossed the line of legality. “BART contracts for phone service likely allow for this,” he said. “But from a policy point of view our government should never shut down the free flow of information. It's dangerous to our democracy to react to protest by silencing them.”
While the legality of BART's phone service shutdown seems unclear, the reaction of free speech advocates has not been.
Galperin characterized the action of BART officials as shameful. “BART officials are showing themselves to be of a mind with the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, who ordered the shutdown of cell phone service in Tahrir Square in response to peaceful, democratic protests earlier this year.”
Rifher echoed the same sentiments when asked about the ethics of BART's decision. “All over the world oppressive regimes shut down basic communications to silence dissent, and we rightly condemn them. Now we are seeing similar acts here. Do we really want a system where police can call up a cell phone provider to cut service to an area over a demonstration? I think no. Demonstrations and communication are upheld by the first amendment.”
Outraged by BART's actions, San Francisco state Senator Leland Yee called on the BART Board of Directors to take immediate action to prevent a repeat incident in the future. Yee also plans to contact the Federal Communications Commission to request an investigation on the constitutionality of the decision.
“I am shocked that BART thinks they can use authoritarian control tactics,” said Yee. “BART’s decision was not only a gross violation of free speech rights; it was irresponsible and compromised public safety.”
In a statement released by BART on August 14, the agency acknowledged its MyBART.org site was attacked in response to the disruption of cell service. The MyBART.org website was hacked using the logo of Anonymous and to add a link to its Twitter account. About 2,200 user identifications, emails and passwords were also stolen from the site and publicized.
"Today myBART.org account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into the myBART system. In response to this intrusion, we have temporarily shut down the myBART.org website, and have notified law enforcement authorities."
The attack, claimed by Anonymous, had been threatened the day before. “The data was stored and easily obtainable via basic SQLi. Any 8-year-old with an Internet connection could have done what we did to find it. On top of that none of the info, including the passwords, was encrypted,” read a statement included with the released data.
In a separate statement Anonymous claimed the attack saying, “Anonymous will attempt to show those engaging in the censorship what it feels like to be silenced.”
WHO IS ANONYMOUS?
“We are Anonymous. We are legion. We never forgive. We never forget. Expect us.” Thus read an August 12 release by the group announcing in advance the BART.org hack, and Civic Center station protest. But who is Anonymous?
Heroes to some, loathed by others, Anonymous has caused a worldwide stir in recent years as the group has become associated internationally with championing issues involving Internet censorship.
Anonymous has become an increasing presence, some would say nuisance, in cyberspace as the group's notoriety has rocketed after hacking attacks against major credit card companies and Paypal, in the wake of an extra judicial financial embargo of Wikileaks by major credit card companies.
In January, the federal authorities issued more than 40 search warrants and made more than 20 arrests in a nation wide sweep against Anonymous attacks on companies that illegally withheld donations to Wikileaks.
BART Police have come under increasing public scrutiny starting with the New Year's Eve 2009 shooting of a restrained Oscar Grant. The force has been involved in three fatal shooting in the past 18 months, as many incidents as the previous 30 years of operations. The death of Charles Hill in July was the most recent of these incidents.
2011-08-17 "Anonymous hackers not in sync on San Francisco BART protests" by Ari Burack from "San Francisco Examiner"
The hacker collective Anonymous, which accessed BART’s website Sunday and published passwords and personal data belonging to more than 2,400 riders, is not of one mind about how best to challenge the powers that be.
In response to news stories describing that incident, some people claiming to be affiliated with the group have expressed concern about the action and how Anonymous is portrayed.
“The group that conducted the hacking, people need to know that it was NOT part of the plan, was/is NOT condoned by the majority of Anonymous, and was done IN SECRET,” said 19-year-old Michela Marsh, who said she’s been associated with the group for six years.
A student at New York University who said she is in contact with the “major players” behind this and other operations, Marsh claimed in an email that a group of six “Anons” planned the BART hack Friday night. She said when she and other people argued against the action in an online chat, “they made the chat private.”
Marsh described a rift between older Anons, who favor more extreme methods, and newer ones, who prefer more peaceful actions.
Monday’s BART protesters did not all appear to be members of Anonymous, even though self-proclaimed group members purportedly scheduled the event. Other protesters, angry at perceived BART police abuses, were more actively involved in trying to disrupt BART operations.
Some defended the so-called OpBART hack. “OpBART was an amazing op,” the self-identified Anon “Freedom Forever” told The San Francisco Examiner via Twitter. “It shows BART that they cannot censor the peoples of this world and that they can not take away freedom.”
Anon “Alba and Omegle,” who said he was not involved in the hacking, directed his criticism at the “technocratic desk jockey fail” that provoked the hack — BART’s decision last week to shut down wireless service in response to a planned protest at the Civic Center station.
“Coming up with sound policies is hard work and should not be as easy as flicking a switch,” Alba and Omegle wrote to The Examiner.
Nonetheless, he tweeted, Anonymous could have done a better job of responding to the transit agency’s action. He said the personal information released could have been scrambled so innocent people’s names were not matched with their passwords.
“I support illegal methods if [they] cause less collateral damage than legal,” he wrote.
Evolution of Monday’s protest
July 3: Fatal shooting by BART police of an armed man at Civic Center station prompts a commute-delaying July 11 protest; BART officials promise to crack down on future protests.
Thursday: When BART shuts down cellphone service in stations for three hours as a counter-measure against protesters, a planned protest fails to materialize.
Sunday: Responding to the cellphone shutdown, Anonymous hacks into myBART.org website and releases personal information of more than 2,000 people.
2011-08-19 "Anonymous hacker quits, burns bridges on way out" by Eric Mack from "C-Net" news
This past Sunday, after reporting on Anonymous' hack of BART's Web site and leak of user information from mybart.org [http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20092221-93/anonymous-defaces-bart-site-leaks-user-data/], I started receiving messages on Twitter and elsewhere from sources purporting to be tied to Anonymous. They were all critical of the leak of personal info from mybart.org--pointing to dissent on Twitter and Anonymous IRC channels. "Just wanted you to know not all of Anon approves..." read one of the messages. Then today, it seems to have all become too much for one former Anonymous hacker.
Until now, he's gone by the handle "SparkyBlaze"--and he's not one of the people that contacted me earlier this week--but today he outed himself as a Manchester, U.K., resident named Matthew who has had enough.
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET)
"Over The Past Few Months Things Inside Anon Have Changed. I Am Mostly Talking About AntiSec And LulzSec. They Both Go Against What I Stand For (And What Anonymous Says They Stand For)," he writes in a Pastebin posting [http://pastebin.com/WYJS303d]. "AntiSec Has Released Gig After Gig Of Innocent Peoples Information. For What? What Did They Do? Does Anon Have The Right To Remove The Anonymity Of Innocent People? They Are Always Talking About Peoples Right To Remain Anonymous So Why Are They Removing That Right?"
He goes on to say that "higher-up" Anons have thrown other members of the collective "to the lions," claiming that Anonymous' campaigns and leadership have been ineffective and prey on "kids" to do their dirty work and risk arrest.
SparkyBlaze does give some credit to Anonymous in a brief postscript:
"I Am Not Saying Everything Anon Has Done Is Pointless Things Like Getting Internet To People When Governments Cut It Off I Support. I Am Just Saying Most Of It Isn't Helping Anyone And Is Just Getting Kids Arrested."
CNET contacted SparkyBlaze and asked if the BART operation was the last straw for him. He says "That was one factor, mainly it was because I was just fed up with anon putting peoples data on-line and then claiming to be the big heroes."
He adds that he did find it hypocritical that Anonymous claimed to be fighting for the BART users by putting their data online.
Matthew/SparkyBlaze's defection has made at least minor waves within Anonymous. A post by Commander X, purported to have led a number of recent hacks, including Sunday's BART operation, suggests SparkyBlaze should be considered persona non grata:
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET)
SparkyBlaze tells CNET that posting was in response to his calling Commander X an "idiot for exposing peoples data and supporting it" coupled with his Pastebin.
With regard to his own involvement with Anonymous, Matthew/SparkyBlaze says he supported a number of operations, "and some un-ethical ones that I am not proud of... but, I never exposed peoples data. I want to be clear on that."
When pressed for examples, he says he was proud to be involved in attacks on sites run by Iran's government, but not so proud to have been involved in the Sony hack.
"If I get arrested I will have to deal with it. I don't care about what anon do now and I just want to say. Not all anon's are bad only some... Some do want change, They are just going about it in the wrong way..."
Posted by Northbay Uprising Radio at 12:55 AM