Hacker group Anonymous plans to promote an affiliated political party to attract people who share its civil liberties goals, but do not agree with its methods.
The move appears similar to those by many protest movements that floated legal organizations and parties to represent their case in political, social and legal forums. But the decentralized nature of Anonymous, which claims no central leaders or control structure, will likely make it difficult to get support from all members.
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There's some evidence of that already.
Anonymous had earlier said in a video that it will stop hacks and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, and will restructure the system from the inside. "Although these methods were effective in turning the media's attention to civil rights violations when our numbers were small, and we had limited options, we now have the numbers to make a difference legally," it said.
The video posted on July 4 on YouTube did not go down well with some group members. It also did not prevent Antisec, a movement led by Anonymous, from hacking and defacing websites in Turkey on Wednesday.
"This [party] is just another group that wants to support the goals of Anonymous. It isn't going to replace it," said Testudo Smith, a spokesman for the group behind the push to form a political party.
Smith said the group's mission at this point is to set up an advocacy group to provide Anonymous with legal channels with which it can fight for its goals of Internet freedom and civil rights. These legal channels are what Anonymous is most lacking at the moment, he added.
A website set up for the Anonymous Party of America sets out a broad agenda for a political party that is largely focused on U.S. politics, and will work towards transparency and accountability in government, individual rights, and common sense. It calls on "any Congressman or Senator that has any honor left, to resign from their corrupted parties and join our call for and end to the present system".
The group might find it difficult to gain legitimacy if other hackers, under the banner of Anonymous, continue to carry out attacks on the websites and networks of companies and organizations.
Smith admitted that getting all hackers to support his group's goals would be difficult.
"We have no control over Anonymous as a whole. There aren't any leaders, and it would be futile to attempt to control Anonymous," Smith said.
But should the political pressure group gain widespread support, the group has grander plans.
"Eventually, when we have enough support, and if we think that it is the best way to make a political impact, then we will register ourselves," Smith said. That's in the very long term though, he added.
Anonymous has been the target of police actions in some countries, including Turkey, Spain, Italy, and the U.K. It also found itself alienated from the mainstream population that supports Internet freedom and individual rights, but were not in favor of the group's methods.