Hacker group Anonymous has threatened to expose the identity of members and supporters of a Mexican drug cartel by November 5, in retaliation for the kidnapping of a group member, and has already hacked the website of a former state official, alleging that he has associations with the Zetas drug cartel.
The move does not however have the support of all Anonymous members with some of them worrying about retaliation from the drug cartel. At one point yesterday, some members tried to call off the action. But key Anonymous members continue to back it.
A video in Spanish posted on YouTube on October 6, by a person calling himself "MrAnonymousguyfawkes", threatened that Anonymous will publish the names, photos, and addresses of police officials, journalists, and taxi drivers that collaborate with the drug cartel, hoping the government will arrest them.
"You made a huge mistake by taking one of us. Release him. And if anything happens to him, you (expletive) will always remember this upcoming November 5th," said a masked person in the video, according to a translation provided by another user of YouTube.
Guy Fawkes is symbolic for Anonymous since they use the Guy Fawkes mask, popularised in the movie V for Vendetta, as a logo. Anonymous claimed yesterday to have defaced the website of a former official in the Mexican state of Tabasco. On Monday, the website bore a message in Spanish by Anonymous Mexico stating that he was a part of Zetas, the group considered by the US Drugs Enforcement Administration as Mexico's most violent.
"We all know who they are and where they are," said the speaker in the video. Anonymous did not however claim that its hacking skills gave it special access to information on the cartel. Nor are its traditional tactics such as DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks on websites likely to be of use against armed gangs, according to various analysts.
The drug cartel has killed people who have criticised them on blogs and other social media, according to reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York reported in September the murder of a journalist in direct retaliation for information posted on social media.
As newspapers are censored by fear, Mexican citizens, and many journalists, are turning to social media and online forums to share news and inform each other, said Sara Rafsky, a research associate in CPJ's Americas programme. "So it should be no shock that drug cartels are turning their attention to the internet".
"Realise that consequences are death. Participation is limited to willing anons. Anonymous is not unanimous," said an Anonymous member in a Twitter message, after a number of people on Twitter warned Anonymous of the consequences of taking on the drug cartel.