Anonymous claims Pastebin censorship, creates alternative

Anonymous claims Pastebin censorship, creates alternative

Summary: The hacktivist group Anonymous has gotten so pissed off at Pastebin and its "censorship" plans that it has created its own alternative: AnonPaste. It's currently in alpha though, so don't expect much.

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Earlier this month, the hacktivist group Anonymous complained that Pastebin's plans to monitor the site's content for "sensitive information" was censorship. Now Anonymous has put its money where its mouth is, teaming up with the People's Liberation Front (PLF), and launching AnonPaste.

AnonPaste features the basic functionality you'd expect, including the ability to expire a paste after 10 minutes, one hour, one day, one month, one year, or never. There's one big problem though: the pastes are hosted on PLF's website.

While you can paste your content on anonpaste.tk, you get redirected to peoplesliberationfront.net when you hit the Send button. For example, here's a paste I made: peoplesliberationfront.net/anonpaste/index.php?308913c82f300cd3#aweRz3sHi72hC0s/VsyXCncwQ3Epg7BTaq9KvMr+FWs=.

That's a ridiculously long URL. There's a "Shorten URL" button, but it just redirects you to snipurl.com. This is a pain. The good news is that this is "AnonPaste Alpha 0.11" so maybe the two groups will eventually host everything on the anonpaste.tk domain.

Pastebin, which has over 200,000 members and 17 million unique visitors per month, has been the de facto choice for hackers who want to publicly post data they have stolen from their targets. Hacker pastes ranges from something simple, like a list of sites that have been hacked, to very detailed information, including administrator credentials for website servers, credit card numbers, phone numbers, e-mail addresses with corresponding passwords, and even home addresses.

Here's how the two groups announced the new site, on AnonPaste of course:

As many might be aware, PasteBin has been in the news lately for making some rather shady claims as to what they are willing to censor, and when they are willing to give up IP addresses to the authorities. And as a recent leak of private E-Mails show clearly, PasteBin is not only willing to give up IP addresses to governments - but apparently has already given many IPs to at least one private security firm. And these leaked E-Mail's also revealed a distinct animosity towards Anonymous. And so the PLF and Anonymous have teamed up to offer a paste service truly free of all such nonsense.

AnonPaste is built using open source software called ZeroBin, a "minimalist online pastebin where the server has zero knowledge of pasted data," according to the two groups. To improve on it, they are asking for donations via BitCoins or WePay.

The duo wants to emphasize the following five AnonPaste features:

  • No connection logs, period.
  • All pastes are encrypted BY THE BROWSER using 256 bit AES encryption. This means there is no usable paste data stored on the server for the authorities or anyone else to seize.
  • No moderation or censorship. Because the data on our servers is unreadable by us (or anyone), the responsibility for the legality or appropriateness of any paste lies solely with the person posting. So there will be no need for us to police this service, and in fact we don't even have the ability of deleting any particular paste.
  • No advertisements. This service will be totally user supported through donations. Links for this are available on the web site.
  • Built in URL shortener for the convenience of people posting.

That middle point could cause problems later down the road. Without the option to delete content, authorities might argue the site breaks privacy laws. Free speech is one thing, but being able to remove hate speech and other illegal content is quite another.

When Pastebin first announced it wanted to hire more staff to remove pastes, many speculated hacktivist groups were specifically being targeted. With AnonPaste, groups like Anonymous and LulzSec no longer have to worry:

Paste services have become very popular, and many people want to post controversial material. This is especially so for those involved in Information Activism. We feel that it is essential that everyone, and especially those in the movement - have a safe and secure paste service that they can trust with their valuable and often politically sensitive material. As always, we believe in the radical notion that information should be free.

We'll have to wait and see if the various offshoots of Anonymous choose to use AnonPaste. When I wrote about the Anonymous China hacks earlier this month, Pastebin was used multiple times for multiple leaks. A week later, after the Pastebin announcement, the group was still hacking away, but had already switched to Pastebay.

Regardless of whether it's AnonPaste or Pastebay, I think we'll be seeing a lot less of Pastebin when it comes to anything ranging from script kiddies to hackers.

See also:

Topics: Servers, Browser, Collaboration, Security, Software Development

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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5 comments
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  • "...we don't even have the ability of deleting any particular paste."

    If it's in a database, just delete the record or table.
    If it's in a folder in the server file tree, just delete it.

    How many other ways can you store it that would make it "undeletable"? Not storing a pointer to it in memory? ... which reminds me ...
    Vapur9
  • justice no more

    anonymous no longer represents the cause of justice. Those members have since retired. The new "I want it therefore it's a right" crowd have stepped in to the fray
    rogerxy
  • rogerxy PLEASE BACKUP YOUR COMMENT WITH FACTS?

    If you are right then i'm sure it will not be hard for you to tell us why.
    johnpall@...
  • fighting fire with fire

    we must all be vigilant in recognizing wolves in sheep's clothing.

    i think anonymous has a point and i support their efforts.
    databaseben
  • "This means there is no usable paste data stored on the server"

    In this particular sentence - "All pastes are encrypted BY THE BROWSER using 256 bit AES encryption. This means there is no usable paste data stored on the server for the authorities or anyone else to seize."
    This doesn't mean there is no usable paste date "stored" on the server. Browser encryption only ensures that nobody can snoop on the connection and recover the pasted data using tools like Wireshark etc. unless they can break AES-256 (which is REALLY complex to do - see http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/07/another_new_aes.html).

    I don't mean to be pedantic, but this is FYI for the author.
    nipungupta87