Rob Ford threatens to remove Occupy Toronto; Anonymous threatens to remove Ford from the Internet
Last week Rob Ford proclaimed that it’s time for the Occupy Toronto protesters to leave St. James Park. The announcement predictably prompted a little controversy, but now it appears the mayor has pissed off the wrong nerds. This weekend, vigilante hacking group Anonymous threatened to attack Ford-affiliated websites if he doesn’t relent. Typical of the organization, the message was relayed via YouTube, using a computerized voice and closing with the Anonymous manifesto.
The video states:
The brave citizens of Toronto are peaceful and well-mannered Occupiers, and we will not let the city or the mayor who uses foul language in public get involved. You have said that by next week the Occupiers shall be removed. And we say by next week, if you do not change your mind, you shall be removed from the Internet… We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Toronto, expect us.
For the uninitiated, the organization is a leaderless collective of anonymous net denizens. As there is no formal command structure, any individual or individuals can make attacks in the name of the organization, and they typically intervene in issues of persecution or censorship—or simply for the lulz. Among many other escapades, Anonymous has shut down or taken over several government websites, including those of Egypt and Tunisia during the Arab Spring revolutions; taken down the sites of Visa and Mastercard, which had severed ties with Wikileaks; led to the conviction of Torontonian pedophile Chris Forcand; and disabled 40 child porn sites, publishing the names of 1,500 visitors.
It all sounds rather ominous, but we also remember previous efforts, such as the proposed attack on the Toronto Stock Exchange, which fell through because of a lack of support. However, last week the collective made a solid precedent: after an eviction notice was sent to the Occupiers in St. Louis, the mayor’s website was hacked to display the message, “You can remove the movement from the city, but you cannot remove the movement from your systems!” Thousands of his emails and the contact information for hundreds of his backers were also posted online.
Whether Rob Ford will be scrubbed from the Interwebs depends on whether this call to action mobilizes either the numbers or the talent within the group. And that’s directly correlated to how amused or annoyed they are. So, really, all the mayor needs to do is avoid some kind of embarrassing gaffe or offensive move. For Ford, that should be a snap. Or not.