Update: Justice finds Anonymous
Last year I posted about Freedom in the Time of 4Chan and 4Chan’s attack on Scientology under the name of “Anonymous”:
On 10 February 2008, thousands of 4chanians all over the world showed up outside churches in masks claiming the religion to be a cult. The protests in London, the USA, Canada and Australia were large enough to make the news. Many found the protests entertaining, particularly since several incorporated 4Chan memes. But what humour cannot hide is the fact that the protest was a strategically planned, coordinated attack that spanned the Internet-faring globe.
But could charges be brought against “Anonymous” for the attack? “Would limiting of freedom of speech in that case be justified?” I asked, “Our South African constitution says “Yes”. It excludes hate speech from that freedom.” Secondly I asked, “would it be possible? The outcry of 4Chan still echoing around the Internet says, “No”… Aside from anonymity, the update rate of the site is so fast that posts become unavailable before they can be reported, let alone traced to an IP.”
Today I was surprised to read that one of the members of “Anonymous” has been jailed.
According to the Associated Press: “Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, of Grand Island, Neb., was also ordered Monday to pay $20,000 in restitution and serve a year on supervised release after he gets out of prison.”
Says The Register:
“As part of an earlier plea bargaining agreement, Mettenbrink admitted using custom software from a message board run by Anonymous to throw useless traffic at Church of Scientology websites. Some sites became intermittently unavailable in January 2008 as a result of the efforts of Mettenbrink and many others.”
The judge justified the sentence by calling the attack a “Hate Crime”.
If it is possible to jail a man despite the anonymity provided by 4Chan, perhaps we will begin to see justice served for others who have fallen prey to the message board.