In recent years, the radical online community known as Anonymous has been associated with attacks or “raids” on hundreds of targets. Angered by issues as diverse as copyright abuse and police brutality, they’ve taken on child pornographers, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and even forced a standoff with Mexican drug cartels. They’ve hit corporate targets like Sony, cyber-security firms like HBGary Federal and would-be web controllers like the Church of Scientology.
They shut down Mastercard, Visa and Paypal after those groups froze financial transactions to Wikileaks. Along with other hacktivist groups like Telecomix, they’ve launched cyber attacks against foreign governments in support of the Arab Spring. They served as tech support for the Occupy movement and have put their mark on countless uprisings around the world. One participant described their protests as “ultra coordinated motherfuckery.”
So who is Anonymous?
They’ve been called criminals, “hackers on steroids” and even terrorists. But the vast majority of those who identify as Anonymous don’t break the law. They see themselves as activists and protectors of free speech, and tend to rise up most powerfully when they perceive a threat to internet freedom or personal privacy. Whether you are a soccer mom or a member of Congress, you live in an electronic landscape that has exploded with largely unchecked intrusion and surveillance. You are tracked by government databases while corporate advertisers are looking to buy your personal data for pennies. In this landscape, the existence of the collective internet culture called Anonymous makes the case for anonymity.
Using tools of disruption and spectacle, they have also become the face of dissent for a variety of human rights and information freedom groups around the globe. They are a legion of loud but largely masked geeks, hackers, pranksters and outraged citizens who have unwittingly redefined civil disobedience for the digital age, and found themselves in the middle of one of the most important battles of our time.
WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists, takes us inside the complex culture and history of Anonymous. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, and then moves to Anonymous’ own raucous and unruly beginnings on the website 4Chan.
Through interviews with current members – some recently returned from prison, others still awaiting trial – as well as writers, academics and major players in various “raids,” WE ARE LEGION traces the collective’s breathtaking evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown, global movement, one armed with new weapons of civil disobedience for an online world.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER (Director/Writer/Producer)
Director, Writer, Producer Brian Knappenberger has created numerous documentaries, commercials and feature films for the Sundance Channel, PBS FRONTLINE/World, The Travel Channel, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. He is also Executive Producer of the 23 part Bloomberg Television documentary series “Bloomberg Game Changers” which chronicles luminary figures like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and the Twitter and Google co-founders. His films have explored the changing politics and tensions in post 9/11 southern Afghanistan in “Life After War” along with abuses of power and freedom of speech issues with the killing of a journalist in Ukraine for “A Murder in Kyiv.” Other documentary work has ranged from tracking the changing climate conditions in the Arctic, to how advanced technology is changing our physical bodies in his film “Into The Body.” His work often centers on technology, its possibilities and the transformative effect it has on our lives, communication and culture.
ANDY ROBERTSON (Editor)
Andy developed a keen interest in filmmaking after his 4th grade art teacher assigned a Super-8mm film as a class project. His career highlights include editing the feature documentaries RHYME & REASON and the documentary television series AMERICAN HIGH and 30 DAYS. He received two Emmy Nominations for PROJECT RUNWAY, the first reality show to win a Peabody Award.
JOHN DRAGONETTI (Composer)
ToneTiger is the moniker of John Dragonetti, a music composer and producer living in Los Angeles, California. In the past few years John has the scored the music for several award-winning TV shows which have aired on HBO, Showtime, Sundance Channel, NBC and E!. He also composed the music for Doug Pray’s documentary film, Surfwise as well as the Broken Lizard produced comedy feature, Freeloaders.
John is also a founding member, along with Blake Hazard, of the band The Submarines. The group has released three critically acclaimed albums and continues to record and tour internationally.
As a record producer he started with the Boston based pop group, Jack Drag, recording five albums, the last of which was co-produced by Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Public Enemy, Weezer). Dragonetti collaborated with mixer, John O’Mahony (Metric, Cold Play) on the latest Submarines album. He has also just completed producing and mixing Simmerkane-II the solo project of Dispatch and State Radio singer, Chadwick Stokes. John had done authorized remixes for Josh, Ritter, Avril Lavigne, Leigh Nash and others.