Will Arrests Impact Anonymous?

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February 29, 2012; Source: Slate

More shots have been fired in the ongoing battle between the loosely organized group of hackers known as Anonymous and international law enforcement. Shortly after Interpol cheered the arrest of 25 suspected Anonymous hackers from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain in what it termed “Operation Unmask,” the hackers apparently responded with a cyber-attack that took down Interpol’s website. The arrests were made by assorted law enforcement agents around the world with the assistance of the France-based Interpol, which doesn’t have the authority to make arrests but helps countries work together on international crime. Slate put together a brief video that summarizes what happened:

Spanish police have reportedly claimed that one of the arrested suspects, who allegedly went by the nicknames “Thunder” and “Pacotron,” is accused of running servers located in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria that Anonymous used to carry out attacks in Spain and Latin America.

The question now is what impact, if any, the arrests will have on Anonymous’ operations. While Interpol’s acting director of police services hopes that the arrests will show “crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved,” the group’s lack of hierarchical structure doesn’t lend itself to any sort of collapse in the wake of such crackdowns. As reported by the Associated Press, a Twitter message from a user who claimed affiliation with Anonymous stated, “Interpol, you can’t take Anonymous. It’s an idea.” –Mike Keefe-Feldman