Last night Conservative MP Lousie Mensch claims that she was sent an email from Anonymous or Lulzsec threatening her kids. Mrs Mensch, a high-profile backbencher and member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, disclosed the alleged threats to her more than 37,000 Twitter followers on Sunday night. Over a series of tweets the former music PR industry insider said
Had some morons from Anonymous /Lulzsec threaten my children via email. As I'm in the States, be good to have somebody from the UK police advise me where I should forward the email. To those who sent it; get stuffed, losers.
Oh and I'm posting it on Twitter because they threatened me telling me to get off Twitter. Hi kids! ::waves::
I've contacted the police via the House of Commons and the email is with them now. I don't bully easily, kids. Or in fact at all.
Having a bit of a history of smearing and bullshit, one can understand calls for Mensch, a prominent and regular twitter user, to post a screen grab of the email. Several twitter accounts that are associated with Anonymous have already dismissed the claims.
The network and consciously cloaked nature of Anonymous make it pretty easy for people to claim to be associated with it.
Just to be clear, I dont condone or support threatening kids (or adults) with violence. And neither, as far as i can tell, have any threats ever been carried out under a sanctioned Anonymous call sign.
So this is odd for a few reasons which i’ll just mention briefly
Anonymous are not a media shy network. The entire modus operandi is the encouragment of involvement alongside very public acknowledgment of successful hack etc. Given that this MP was the first in the UK to call for the police forces to be given the power to shut down communication tools such as twitter, facebook and blackberry messaging, and is likely to be fronting such calls in the future, its pretty clear that she has the attention of digital activists and anti censorship groups around the globe.
It therefore is entirely plausible that someone sent hate emails and trying to give the appearance of being in an Anonymous or Lulzsec action
Whats implausible is that a network of people who revel in making pretty public statements, and using De Bord style spectatcles – as well as very hands on work against state and police brutality from North Africa, North and South America and Europe would for some reason resort to sending a threatening email. It doesnt stack up really.
What i would expect to see, if Mrs Mensch and others continue to push to give polices forces the power to stop people communicating freely with each other is some of those ‘spectaculars’. If Anonymous and AntiSec have been able to find routes around FBI, multi agency web servers and government security subcontractors such as drone airplane builders over the last few months, as well as big corporations such as PayPal, Sony, its unlikely that the private emails of MP’s will be safe either.
And heres the rub. As someone with a bit of an interest in how British securocrat culture operates, Id always be wary of the smoke and mirrors of British intelligence. Having run murder squads in the north of Ireland for decades, and with the uncovering of at least 6 long term police secret agents in the anti captalist/anarchist movement in the last 12 months, its clear that the political policing operates under its own rules. The deaths of over 300 people in UK police custody snce 1989 and no charges brough against anyone suggest that the same rule work for ‘ordinary’ policing. And whilst revisionists will try to remove the context, it was the shooting dead of a young black man in London that was the spark the set off a wave of riots and civil unrest across many cities in England earlier this month.
So what has this got to do with Louise Mensch and Anonymous??
Its also pretty clear that both the UK police and MP fear what social media tools can offer as mediaisation and organising tools. There is an awareness that this is a new front that is both unregulated and legally ill defined. Even now when there is little consensus on the realities versus the hype of social media tools role in encouraging and supporting social activism and movements for change, there is little doubt that when used consciously and critically they are useful tools. And underlying anarchist tendencies associated with a lot of the the discourse of anti copyright, anti enclosure and digital commons, demands for complete transparency from those who seek to (and do) exercise power over our lives has a lot of resonance with politicos and no politicos alike.
So if you want to shut those tools down, your gonna need a bad guy, because for better or worse, lots of people see these things as positives even if they are unsure why. A narrative needs to be created to justify communication censorship, and what better way to try to do that than target a group known for hacking. The high profile arrests and cases brought against of alleged members of Anonymous bring into sharp relief that resources are been thrown at people organising and facilitating DDoS and more high level security breeches.
But passing power to instutionally corrupt cops isnt an abstract technical future event, or something associated with dictators cling to power. Only last week cops in the US “pulled a Mubarak” and cut off mobile services on the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) system, effectively rendering useless peoples mobile phones. Why did they do this. What crime where they tackling. Well none actually, this was a pre emptive strike against a protest called in response to several murders of passengers of the BART by BART police officers. The most infamous of these was the shooting dead of Oscar Grant as he lay face down, arms restrained behind his back. It was new communication tools, the ability to record video on mobile phones, that caught a police officers draw his pistol while standing over Oscar and shoot him repeatedly in the back
Social justice activists and Anonymous where quick to react to the police actions of shutting down mobile phone networks, amid a growing concern that the BART police are a low unto themselves.
So we’ll she how this pans out, but id expect more denials from Anonymous media posts, little clarification from the police,and more shrill noises from those with a right wing agenda with a desire to criminalise the ability of people to communicate.
If it comes down to a choice between believing and supporting Conservative MP’s and a Police force thats rotten to its core, or believing and supporting people acting to hold power to account, and shine lights on hypocrisy its a pretty easy call.