On Thursday, April 7 at City Hall in New York City, a coalition of groups, organized in part by journalist Barrett Brown, something of a spokesperson for the recently ubiquitous hacker group Anonymous, will gather in support of WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange and U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who has been held in torturous conditions for nearly a year on allegations that he leaked government secrets to Assange’s pro-transparency group. This afternoon, Brown told Runnin’ Scared that in the months since the rally was planned, the HBGary saga, in which a computer security firm worked with the government to identify members of Anonymous, only to get hacked themselves, made more urgent the need to recognize the “widespread practice of governments and companies collecting data” on its citizens. The rally, Brown said, hopes to “counter the forces against WikiLeaks” and other anti-secrecy individuals and organizations.
“It’s an uphill battle,” Brown said, because of “the inability of people to grasp and accept what’s going on. Everything that has happened in the past six months [with Manning, WikiLeaks and HBGary] seemed like bad science fiction,” he said. “Scrappy hackers fighting back against a shadowy corporation, it sounds like a bad movie. But when it sounds like a bad movie, that’s when people have to start paying attention.”
“When the characters are that two-dimensional, and they’re that bad,” said Brown, “that’s when we have to take notice.”
“It’s hard to trust any of these governments to use secrecy for legitimate ends,” he added, referring to not only domestic issues, but to the unrest in the Middle East.
The rally will bring together Brown and other internet activists like Gregg Housh, also Anonymous-affiliated, in addition to journalists, professors and lawyers, including John Penley, a U.S. veteran, photojournalist and anti-war protester, and Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive bar association.
Each speaker will talk for about 5 minutes, with a series of meetings surrounding the even throughout the week. Dubbed the Rally for Information Freedom, the simultaneous information campaign is being led by Anonymous, in addition to Brown’s own think-tank Project PM. The press conference and rally kicks off at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow at City Hall.
For more information, check the press release.