Who Pays for Anonymous Protests?


James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Is the bar for protest really as high as “Thou shalt not inconvenience anyone”?Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      But in the case of James example, the people you are most hurting are unaware that any protest is being held, let alone what the cause is. If I were to protest a decision by our neighborhood association, I don’t know how helpful it would be to anonymously light a bag of dog feces on the porch of some random guy that lives in the neighborhood.

      Protests generally produce the results you want when they draw interest to you and your cause, give the public a face to identify with and generate empathy. I agree with James that not only doesn’t this protest help thhe cause (whatever it’s merits) it actually hurts it.Report

  2. Avatar Zach says:

    I don’t think mom and pop shops were inconvenienced or couldn’t process sales; they briefly took down some fraction of various companies’ websites, not their financial infrastructure.

    If a protest were somehow successful in shutting down the credit card processing network (maybe it’s susceptible to this sort of attack as well), the degree of hurt to a business would roughly scale with it’s size. Mom and pop shops can always take credit card imprints; the Apple Store would cease to function during the holiday rush without a bunch of folks walking around with portable credit card machines.Report

  3. Avatar John Harrold says:

    It is highly unlikely that the websites of these companies are located on the same computers which process credit card transactions. Even small operations would decentralize the different aspects of it infrastructure (separate computers for websites, email servers, corporate intranet, etc.).

    No, you’ll have to try harder to tie Anonymous to some sort of negative outcome for the common man. Here is a suggestion:

    How about the poor souls who are unable to check their credit card balances for a couple hours to determine if they are able to afford that plasma television that realistically they cannot afford.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley says:


    Who says small businesses share the same computers? It just seems to me that if Visa can’t process things because of a DDOS attack, then Joe’s Linguini Hut can’t process a credit card payment through them. Even assuming I’m wrong about how the world of credit card processing works–quite plausible, considering I’m a luddite–do you really think people engaged in anonymous give rat’s ass if they hurt third parties?

    I always find it ugly when someone rushes to defend an action like this not by showing that they are careful to avoid any harm to others but by marginalizing anyone who might possibly have been harmed. “Sure someone was inconvenienced but they’re people I smugly dislike so it’s ok.”Report

    • Avatar MadRocketScientist in reply to James Hanley says:

      The computers that do CC transactions are not the same ones that host the websites. Not even close. I don’t even know if those servers can even be targeted with a standard DDOS. In addition, I haven’t heard a thing about any large scale outage for CC transactions.

      This was the digital equivalent of chaining yourselves to a businesses front door.

      As for the initial question, when was the last time you heard of the organizers of a protest getting in trouble for impeding traffic & business? We had an immigration protest last summer that spilled into a major thoroughfare and choked up traffic for hours & forced some emergency vehicles to re-route (including ambulances transporting patients). I don’t recall anyone getting so much as a fine from that.Report

  5. Avatar Anna says:

    I may be overstating damages, but it is a false notion that harm according to size applies. Having worked in retail in a small business, I can say first hand that running purchases through credit card imprints is a risk small businesses don’t wish to make. Whenever the credit card authorization system would go down, it would appear that bad cards would come out of the woodwork. The authorization system is run by VISA, if they are down, purchases can not be verified and the business is SOL. Not only is collecting on a bad card a time consuming and costly process, the business also loses what the customer has left with. Just a couple of “bad card” purchases have a far worse impact on a small business. On line shopping keeps many businesses alive, even if your business’s web site is up, what is the point if someone is unable to make a transaction? So if VISA were universally attacked, it would not be merely a hassle and I agree with RTod, it only hurts their cause.Report

  6. Avatar Barry says:

    Seconding the ‘thou shalt not inconvenience anybody’ problem. If this standard is adhered to, protest is not allowable. Unless it’s very personal, which causes it’s own problems.Report