As government and industry collude, the interests of the powerful trample the rights of the multitude. Technology has granted invasive new eyes and ears to government agencies, spurning the right to privacy. Felicitously, the individual has also been empowered with two new tools to check the corporate state: hacktivism and leaks. The press has been captured by a handful of news corporations that are generally uncritical of government and fail to expose corporate injustice. The techno-libertarian culture has birthed the do-it-yourself fourth estate—usurping the illegitimate media and furnishing a viable alternative to the cartelized press. Two entities, Wikileaks and Anonymous, have emerged under this banner. This inquiry seeks to understand their history, methods, and to ascertain whether use of the discrete figurehead is efficacious.
Regardless of whether Anonymous and Wikileaks survive in the face of the opposition, both of these crowd-sourced models have already been reproduced. The cat is out of the bag—Openleaks, Ruleaks (Russia) and Lulzsec are examples of such copycats. The fluid, spontaneous and international participatory political relations of the web are effectively digitizing the public sphere. This anarchistic structure is emblematic of the age, one of disillusionment with disingenuous representatives and figureheads.