Anonymous picks up garbage to protest Japanese download laws

Anonymous is known for hacking websites, as part of a political protest or for a cause. That doesn't mean, however, that the group is unable to get its message out in other ways, such as removing garbage from the streets.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

As expected, the hacktivist group Anonymous has suddenly become a proponent of litter removal in Tokyo, Japan. Yes, it's a publicity stunt, but at least it's a passive one: on Saturday morning, approximately 80 masked men and women participated in Operation Anonymous Cleaning Service. The goal of the PR move was simple: to protest Japan's recently-revised laws for illegal downloading.

This is the first event that Anonymous Japan has ever hosted. Changes to the country's copyright law, made on June 20, have brought some of the group's members out of their homes and into the streets, garbage bags in hand.

The updated legislation means Japanese ISPs have to begin monitoring Internet traffic for suspicious activity. Furthermore, illegal downloads of copyrighted music and movies are punishable by up to two years in prison. Anonymous argues the revised law will send many innocent people to jail for "just one click," a concept which is driving Japan's youth to seek ways of fighting back.

The AFP video above contains a few statements from some of the protestors, and here are some of their transcriptions, also by the AFP:

"We prefer constructive and productive solutions," the group said in a statement. "We want to make our fellow citizens aware of the problem with a productive message."
"In IRC (Internet relay chat), somebody proposed cleaning as a means of protest as we didn't want to follow the style of mass anti-nuclear rallies which are getting too much," said a spokesman for the assembly.
"I guess this is the first time that a Japanese-led Anonymous group stages an outside operation," said the man who said he works as an engineer in the computer industry.
"The cleaning service has amused overseas Anonymous allies as something unique to the Japanese," said another spokesman. "We want to continue stating our case on the net."

The Japanese protesters wore the infamous Guy Fawkes mask, which represents one member of a group who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up the Parliament House in London. While the icon first entered pop culture in the graphic novel V for Vendetta, it has since been re-appropriated by Anonymous.

The cleanup initiative follows a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) last month on the websites of Japanese government organizations. The campaign is a first for the Asian country: although Japanese companies have been targeted before, Anonymous has largely left the Japanese government alone, until now.

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