Before WikiLeaks, Operation Payback's initial target was America's recording industry, chosen for its prosecutions of music file downloaders. From those humble origins, Payback's anti-censorship, anti-copyright, freedom of speech manifesto would go viral, last week pitting an amorphous army of online hackers against the US government and some of the biggest corporations in the world.
The battle now centres on Washington's fierce attempts to close down WikiLeaks and shut off the supply of confidential US government cables. By Thursday, the hacktivists were routinely attacking those who had targeted WikiLeaks, among them icons of the corporate world, credit card firms and some of the largest online companies. It seemed to be thefirst sustained clash between the established order and the organic, grass roots culture of the net.
At the heart of the conflict is the WikiLeaks founder, the enigmatic figure of Julian Assange,
lionised by many as the Ned Kelly of the digital age for hiscontinued defiance of a superpower, condemned by his US detractors as a threat to national security.
Today, Assange sits in solitary confinement in a British jail, and he does not have access to the Internet. But progressive forces worldwide and an army of free-speech computer hackers are now one in their support for Julian Assange, our Ned Kelly of the digital age.
To view the London Observer's article, click here.