'Anonymous' WikiLeaks Backers Targeted In U.S. Probe

Lecturer M. Ryan Calo speaks with Business Week's Michael Riley about the idea of using hacking as a form of civil disobedience:

Evidence collected by the FBI about Anonymous, which attacked websites of four companies to punish them for blocking contributions to WikiLeaks, will be considered this week by a U.S. grand jury, according to court papers and an informal spokesman for the group of activist hackers.

The federal grand jury in San Jose, California, will begin reviewing evidence tomorrow that includes computers and mobile phones seized from suspected leaders as prosecutors probe the coordinated so-called denial-of-service attacks in December, according to a federal subpoena and the spokesman, Barrett Brown. Anonymous directed activists to target payment processors MasterCard Inc., Visa Inc., EBay Inc.’s PayPal, and U.K.-based Moneybookers.com in public chat rooms.


“Civil disobedience is historically more effective when the state intervenes in a heavy-handed way,” said Ryan Calo, an expert in cyber crime at Stanford University in Stanford, California. “It is not just the act but also all the follow-up -- the subpoenas, arrests, a trial. That’s all part of the act of civil disobedience.”