Anonymous Goes Old-School, Attacks Egypt With Faxes

Anonymous is a loose organization of hacktivists best known for attacking its enemies--both corporate and governmental--via the Internet, by defacing websites or shutting them down altogether. But with most of the Internet down in Egypt, the folks at Anonymous are apparently resorting to a positively prehistoric technology: fax machines.

Members of the group are organizing to fax copies of the Egypt-related cables that WikiLeaks released today to schools in Egypt. The hope apparently is that if they can get the faxes into the hands of students, students will distribute them to other protesters. A source told Forbes the goal was to warn them that the police could not be trusted. The WikiLeaks cables, which describe human rights abuses and political arrests, "are just more proof of that," the source said.

In a chat room used for coordinating activities, the group also discussed how to get information into Egypt about a French ISP setting up free dial-up Internet access for people in Egypt.

Earlier this week, as protesters in Egypt took to the streets and the government appeared to start blocking social networks, websites belonging to the Egyptian cabinet, the Interior Ministry, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology were taken offline--presumably due to denial of service attacks launched by hactivists. But the group is apparently backing off from that tactic, in order not to tie up the few Internet pipes that are still open in the country.

Earlier today, a press release was posted to the group’s website, calling on "governments of the world to take action and show the world that you are on the side of the people and their fight for freedom and democracy." Two days ago, an Anonymous press release said the group would attack government websites. Today’s press release simply said, "We will take sides. We will support people who strive for freedom of speech, assembly and communication."

[Images: Flickr users Abhisek Sarda and Timothy Tolle]

Read more of our coverage on the protests in Egypt.

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com's Silicon Valley reporter. Follow me on Twitter, or email me.

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8 Comments

  • Edward Harris

    Andrew, I agree that it is important for other countries to stay out of Egypt. However, if the purpose of this organization is to ensure the flow of free speech to the Egyptian people, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Yes, they are perpetuating a revolution against what is currently a very corrupt government, much like our own. However, "Anonymous" is waging war with the Egyptian government; it is the Egyptian government that has been at war with the rights of it's people-- "Anonymous" is helping them fight back. I can't see how any association doing solely that, whether renegade or official, is precedent to anything but a positive outcome for the people struggling within that society.

  • Andrew Krause

    Louann has it right - it is entirely up to the Egyptian people to make their own change. Anyone who is any bit a student of history would know precisely how wrong it is to go off half-cocked and interfere with the internal politics of a foreign power, even if we really don't like the government. That otherwise imperialist attitude which justifies interference has precedent, but not a favorable one.

  • Jeff Winn

    Louann, you're being too snarky. In fact, I'd suggest Anonymous are doing a genuine service here. One I don't see anybody else doing. Look, how often do we get to see large scale revolution in our lifetimes? Every few years on average? We've seen it twice just in the last few weeks, and I think it's great. When a government declares war on its own people, we should be supporting those people as best we can. A good way of doing this is making sure they have the most accurate, up-to-date information possible. The Internet's been killed, and Al Jazeera's broadcast has been silenced thanks to it being carried on an Egyptian owned satellite. Sending news via fax is a legitimate and practical solution.

    What's with your attitude?

    Here's an idea... I think it would be an interesting homework assignment to have students in a poli-sci class each create a one page document suitable for faxing to other similar-age students in Cairo. Assuming the recipients spoke english, what would you say?

  • swannee

    Louann, they are certainly doing more than you, as you are just sitting there and pushing a few buttons to criticize people. Their work to help maintain open communication is vital. Many people are "just pushing buttons" in hopes of giving the Egyptian people a voice to the outside world thru the internet connections. So you may have just graduated, however, a degree does not wash away the fact that you are an idiot.

    Before you mouth off, try and understand how technology and those on the outside can be helpful.

  • Louann Oravec

    This is all fine and dandy, but are you actually going to go to Egypt and help these people? Or are you going to sit in your cushy lounge chair and put a few buttons and say you are helping them. They live there let them fight their own battles.

  • Deb Aubuchon

    I'm not really sure where to start with replying to this comment, I think maybe laughter would be most appropriate. First of all, what is it you're suggesting? Should we get out of our lounge chairs and help, or should we let them fight their own battles?

    Also, what sort of action is it that you believe is appropriate? These people are revolting, they haven't been hit by a natural disaster. Short of an attempt to overthrow the Egyptian government, I'm not sure what purpose a trip to Egypt would fulfill.

  • motorcyclemessiah

    i hope my legion of the dammed are running this show .we all need decent governments to reach our potential not selfish lying oafs who stunt us with their greed for things we decent people have no taste for .there is a new world order coming but its not the one the rich were betting on its the poor and powerless uniting under one god of divine justice to wipe liars from office everywhere and if they oppose the needs of the poor. We will be the divine wind that sweeps them back into the dust from whence they came.We have nothing and therefore nothing to lose .regards the motorcycle messiah bringing you global damnation for your part in doing nothing to end slavery.