While first amendment and privacy activists on all sides of the political spectrum may share in many of the concerns expressed by Anonymous’ actions in protest against ACTA and Google, some strongly question the role that Anonymous plays in politics. While the collective has been effective in achieving some good results on a variety of issues, such as (with The Pirate Bay) opening up internet access to the Iranian protesters during the country’s 2009 elections, and fighting child pornography, the collective has no “official” organizational structure that would maintain control of decisions on targets or the tactics used in pursuing those targets.
This has its drawbacks, which are not insignificant. Rogue elements of Anonymous have often operated in dubious ways, such as releasing the personal information of targets’ family members and associates, sometimes even getting the target or information wrong. Others have been known to release such information, and then turn to social networking sites to direct others to the details and to incite further harassment or harm. Just last week, Anonymous posted the information of various officials in Oakland, CA in response to the city’s police force blocking Occupy protesters from occupying a city convention center. Some of the information was not correct.