It was already noted through Twitter that several accounts were warning as soon as the 12th of February1 that the Police was launching a fully fledged operation against Anonymous in Spain. At first Police forces would not “confirm neither deny it”2 and this was mostly thought to be because the operation was still on it’s feet and they feared that possible suspects would be able to clear their tracks or delete any compromising data.
But today the operation (dubbed “Operation Exposure”) came to an end and a press release3 has been published and mainstream media have reported on it456. This Operation, according to the press release, was coordinated at an international level with INTERPOL, EUROPOL and Technological Police Brigades were the arrests took place in Latin America. Specifically, 10 activists in Argentina, 6 in Chile and 5 in Colombia. Moreover two servers have been blocked in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. It was noted that access to the IRC server named “AnonWorld” was impossible since last week.
In the case of the Spanish detentions, the Police notes that two of the activists have been sent to prison by court order, another activist has been freed under a bail and lastly, one of the activists was under-aged and is therefore under parents’ custody. The Police claims these Spanish activists are allegedly responsible of “DDoS attacks […] web defacements […] of political parties, institutions and corporations, as well as the publication of data on the internet referring to, amongst others, presidential bodyguards and members of the GEO (Spanish acronym: Grupo Especial de Operaciones – Special Operations Group) from the National Police Force”7. These attacks were committed, according to the Police, roughly during the mid-term of last year8.
One of the activists arrested, nicknamed “Troy” is allegedly the author of “the publication of personal data of members of the National Police from the Royal House, bodyguards working for the Government President, Special Operations Group and from the leader of UPyD [Spanish opposition political party] Rosa Díez”9. The activists arrested in Spain are being accused of “illicit association, computer damage and discovery and revelation of secrets”10.
It remains unclear whether more Police operations will take place in Spain since recent Anonymous protests in Spain have been officially reported to the Police11. During the inauguration gala of Spanish cinema awards (known as the Goya Awards), Anonymous leaked a so-called “dox” on alleged supporters of the famous Ley Sinde which was recently approved. The “Ley Sinde” (or Sinde Act) grants an administrative commission unprecedented power that many critics have claimed that it essentially erodes the rule of law, apart from the blocking of websites that this commission may consider to be infringing intellectual property rights. In fact, an internet association has successfully presented an administrative appeal which has been accepted by the Supreme Court12. But Sinde Act is expected to come into force as soon as the 1st of March and no resolution is expected to be dictated by the court before then.
It was last year that Anonymous gained notoriety in Spain since they managed to undertake a peaceful protest during the night of the Goya Awards, but this year police presence managed to avoid that scenario again this year. Although the Police did avoid any sign of dissent at the Goya Awards’ gate, a protester managed to get all the way into the ceremony and was filmed by the cameras13
Finally, Anonymous is obviously not the only movement that has “stepped up it’s game” due to the recent approval of the Sinde Act. The Spanish group called “Hacktivistas”14 are undergoing a campaign of civil disobedience on the net. It consists of including a link to copyrighted material into peoples website, which is administered by the SGAE (a collecting association for artists), an association which has been openly criticized and investigated for money laundering activities15. For the time being there more than 200 websites that have voluntarily linked to such material, and it is assumed that what they wish to do is “be the first line of combat designed for and by an outdated industry”16. It would be expected that such websites will soon be reported to the administrative commission, therefore artificially inflating the amount of workload this body would have. By having some many websites denounced at the same time they wish to evidence “the dangers of this Act together with it’s inefficiencies”17.
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5“Detenidos cuatro miembros DE Anonymos en España por revelación DE secretos y ciberataques” from rtve.es, 28 Feb, 2012: http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20120228/policia-detiene-cuatro-miembros-anonymous-espana/500582.shtml
6“La Policía detiene a cuatro miembros DE Anonymous en España” from rtve.es/alacarta [video], 28 Feb, 2012: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/ciencia-y-tecnologia/policia-detiene-cuatro-miembros-anonymous-espana/1334934/
12“El Tribunal Supremo admite a trámite el recurso contra la Ley Sinde” from networkworld.es, 9 Feb, 2012: http://www.networkworld.es/El-Tribunal-Supremo-admite-a-tramite-el-recurso-co/seccion-actualidad/noticia-118455