This past Sunday, after reporting on Anonymous' hack of BART's Web site and leak of user information from mybart.org, I started receiving messages on Twitter and elsewhere from sources purporting to be tied to Anonymous. They were all critical of the leak of personal info from mybart.org--pointing to dissent on Twitter and Anonymous IRC channels. "Just wanted you to know not all of Anon approves..." read one of the messages. Then today, it seems to have all become too much for one former Anonymous hacker.
Until now, he's gone by the handle "SparkyBlaze"--and he's not one of the people that contacted me earlier this week--but today he outed himself as a Manchester, U.K., resident named Matthew who has had enough.
"Over The Past Few Months Things Inside Anon Have Changed. I Am Mostly Talking About AntiSec And LulzSec. They Both Go Against What I Stand For (And What Anonymous Says They Stand For)," he writes in a Pastebin posting. "AntiSec Has Released Gig After Gig Of Innocent Peoples Information. For What? What Did They Do? Does Anon Have The Right To Remove The Anonymity Of Innocent People? They Are Always Talking About Peoples Right To Remain Anonymous So Why Are They Removing That Right?"
He goes on to say that "higher-up" Anons have thrown other members of the collective "to the lions," claiming that Anonymous' campaigns and leadership have been ineffective and prey on "kids" to do their dirty work and risk arrest.
SparkyBlaze does give some credit to Anonymous in a brief postscript:
I Am Not Saying Everything Anon Has Done Is Pointless Things Like Getting Internet To People When Governments Cut It Off I Support. I Am Just Saying Most Of It Isn't Helping Anyone And Is Just Getting Kids Arrested.
CNET contacted SparkyBlaze and asked if the BART operation was the last straw for him. He says "That was one factor, mainly it was because I was just fed up with anon putting peoples data on-line and then claiming to be the big heroes."
He adds that he did find it hypocritical that Anonymous claimed to be fighting for the BART users by putting their data online.
Matthew/SparkyBlaze's defection has made at least minor waves within Anonymous. A post by Commander X, purported to have led a number of recent hacks, including Sunday's BART operation, suggests SparkyBlaze should be considered persona non grata:
SparkyBlaze tells CNET that posting was in response to his calling Commander X an "idiot for exposing peoples data and supporting it" coupled with his Pastebin.
With regard to his own involvement with Anonymous, Matthew/SparkyBlaze says he supported a number of operations, "and some un-ethical ones that I am not proud of... but, I never exposed peoples data. I want to be clear on that."
When pressed for examples, he says he was proud to be involved in attacks on sites run by Iran's government, but not so proud to have been involved in the Sony hack.
"If I get arrested I will have to deal with it. I don't care about what anon do now and I just want to say. Not all anon's are bad only some... Some do want change, They are just going about it in the wrong way..."