It is a double edged sword - Hackers Anonymous. It is somewhat akin to Occupy Wall Street (not the other occupy ripoffs) - voices for justice. They have many of the attributes of comic book superheroes - they use their powers (skill set) to protect the vulnerable and fight against the evil in the world. But they act too as judge and jury. Vengeance is theirs. Anarchy looms in the shadows.
There seems to be more reasons for the growth and appearances of these voices for justice. Of immediate interest is Hackers Anonymous's interest in righting the wrong that seems most certainly to have had played a part in the suicide of Aaron Swartz.
A good primer on the Aaron Swartz case is the Rolling Stones article Why Did the Justice System Target Aaron Swartz? Hackers Anonymous has helped focus attention on the injustice by what has been modestly described as "over zealous" federal prosecutors. To keep the matter before the public Hackers take over gov't website to avenge Swartz:
"Citizens of the world,
Anonymous has observed for some time now the trajectory of justice in the United States with growing concern. We have marked the departure of this system from the noble ideals in which it was born and enshrined. We have seen the erosion of due process, the dilution of constitutional rights, the usurpation of the rightful authority of courts by the "discretion" or prosecutors. We have seen how the law is wielded less and less to uphold justice, and more and more to exercise control, authority and power in the interests of oppression or personal gain."
Frankly this expression of cause finds a certain resonance in many, especially among the young. It has almost a Declaration of Independence ring about it. But do we want them to determine what constitutes "the erosion of due process, the dilution of constitutional rights, the usurpation of the rightful authority of courts by the "discretion" or prosecutors?"
But it is troublesome that this group felt the need to take action, apparently assuming (and rightfully so) that the injustice by federal prosecutors (apparently aided by MIT) would not be recognized.
And it is troublesome that a group has the skill set to wreak havoc at will in cyberspace. And what if they lose their way? But it may be even more troublesome should the government gain the ability to shut them down.
Democracy seems to be slipping away much like the erosion of a beach. It is a slow process whose effect can't be seen except in a retrospective analysis. Too late.