Anon on the run
December 11, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Doyon admitted he was shutting down free speech in the name of free speech, but he defended the tactic as “no different than taking up seats at the Woolworths lunch counter.” Christopher Doyon, also known as "Commander X", arrested for activities variously described as civil disobedience or cybercrime, flees the law and grizzly bears. (SLAT)
posted by kengraham (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
"the USA has become so tyrannical that a human rights/information activist would feel compelled to flee into exile and seek sanctuary in another country.”

Well, you know, that and the vandalism.
posted by Artw at 6:29 PM on December 11, 2012


"I believe we burned a couple [of buildings] to the ground. They weren’t mink farms that we burned… the fuck did we burn? I think it was a lumberyard, or… fuck. I can’t remember now. There were a couple places that we set fires."
posted by Flunkie at 6:47 PM on December 11, 2012


This punk would last all of 2 seconds under an actual tyranny.
posted by gsh at 6:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't get why they are out committing these federal crimes in the name of social justice yet they do something as ineffectual as DDOSing a county website for a few hours. Man if you're going to bring that kind of heat you should be like firebombing senators' offices or something, I dunno. Something that might actually make it past local news?
posted by Scientist at 7:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought a "die-in" by the terminally ill would be remarkably effective.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This punk would last all of 2 seconds under an actual tyranny.

We are.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:05 PM on December 11, 2012


So.... a somewhat paranoid narcissist? The world revolves around him (and all international events happen only because he makes them happen) plus the world is out to get him, a panhandler with a laptop (he paid for those how?) and a vandal who is demanding 'political aslyum'?

Riiiight. I just wish he could say one sentence without 'fuck' in it --- it'd help him come off as less of an overaged spoiled brat, for one thing.
posted by easily confused at 7:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It should be clear to any rational person that Doyen isn't a leader, since Anonymous is shockingly good at achieving their goals without being caught, and so it follows logically that their leaders must be pretty smart, whereas Doyen's practice of blurting his name and crimes to anybody with a camera is sort of incredibly dumb. If I had to guess his actual rank, it would be more along the lines of "cannon fodder." Which actually would make him pretty useful to them, though not in the way he'd like to think.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


He seems like a loose cannon and someone I would want to be associates with.

But you can count on Metafilter to complain about people who are actively challenging the status quo.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:09 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This punk would last all of 2 seconds under an actual tyranny.

If I had to guess his actual rank, it would be more along the lines of "cannon fodder."

Yep. He seems to have a really poorly developed sense of threat-recognition, and very badly misplaced priorities. "Grizzly bears you say? Largest predator on the land? No big deal!"

Gotta love the understated language used by the U.S.National Parks Service, quoted in the article ...

There have been cases where bear spray apparently repelled aggressive or attacking bears and accounts where it has not worked as well as expected.

Up here, in the Frozen North, we're more blunt.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:12 PM on December 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


I understand working to improve the world, dunkadunc, but this dude is not doing that --- he is, as you say, a loose cannon: someone dumb enough to apparently think that somehow grizzly bears will back off and what? Respect him? But noooooo..... HE is *DOYON*, master of all he surveys, and no stupid Park Ranger is gonna make him carry bear spray!

Kinda says it all about this guy right there.
posted by easily confused at 7:15 PM on December 11, 2012


Well, it sounds like he made up the bear spray thing anyway. The employee from the Kootenai national forest sounds 100% accurate, based on everything I know about bear spray and national forests. Bear spray isn't $150, it isn't the size of a fire extinguisher, national forests in Idaho don't have staffed entrances or official stores, and nobody will keep you out of a park for not having bear spray.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:26 PM on December 11, 2012


We are.

What, an actual tyranny? The only way one could make that claim with a straight face is to have a remarkable lack of historical insight. Governments can have real problems, even serious ones, without being a tyranny.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


His use of a Mac sets off the bulkshit detector more than anything else.
posted by humanfont at 7:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


But you can count on Metafilter to complain about people who are actively challenging the status quo.

This guy is challenging the status quo in much the same way the place I used to work for's security policies made the place more secure.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:56 PM on December 11, 2012


Of course it does.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2012


Justinian: "What, an actual tyranny? The only way one could make that claim with a straight face is to have a remarkable lack of historical insight. Governments can have real problems, even serious ones, without being a tyranny."

Presidents having lists of people to kill with flying robots, some of whom are citizens, but are denied right to legal appeal?

Domestic spying more pervasive than East Germany's? Spying and infiltrating dissident groups? It's not North Korea, but it's bad if you do anything to challenge power.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Except for the whole voting new people into office in mostly free and mostly fair elections, and so on.
posted by Justinian at 8:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


His use of a Mac sets off the bulkshit detector more than anything else.

Mine has a spellchecker that works.
posted by Wolof at 8:09 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Justinian: "Except for the whole voting new people into office in mostly free and mostly fair elections, and so on."

I consider the US election system to be neither free nor fair. Maybe how the votes are counted, but not how certain people are given far more time in the media spotlight, how servile the media is to power, et cetera.

The two major parties, as far as I'm concerned, are two factions within the official state Capitalist Party.

Anyway, derail.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:12 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe you could, like, tag some street signs or something in hope of bringing Anwar al-Aulaqi back from the dead.
posted by Artw at 8:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, that's what Commander X would suggest.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:25 PM on December 11, 2012


dunkadunc is a bit right and a bit wrong.

Presidents having lists of people to kill with flying robots, some of whom are citizens, but are denied right to legal appeal?

In a military action against a paramilitary or terrorist insurgency, it's probably ethical to kill US citizens running around if they are doing so hand-in-hand with known black hats. It's situational and context-dependant.

Assuming the particular long war in question is ethical.

Domestic spying more pervasive than East Germany's? Spying and infiltrating dissident groups? It's not North Korea, but it's bad if you do anything to challenge power.

Sort of, not really. My cell phone probably could do a better job of spying on me than a landlord or co-worker, but I can run around with a picket sign or organize a non-Dem, non-Rep, group and not get imprisoned. (Now that we stopped using free-speech-zones, I think.)

Anyway, derail.

It's a fair point to discuss, there's not a lot we can do here besides roll our eyes and talk about the kid's tradecraft and judgement. I mean, he can't send a command to an irc channel through a daisy chain of 5 ssh connections rather than mooching free wifi?
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:28 PM on December 11, 2012


Whenever I read stories about people like this I cannot believe it took the authorities that long to catch them. Don't people worried about security and revealing their crimes wipe incriminating stuff from their computers when they're coming into public space? Or is that too..gauche? I just can't think why you'd keep it all up and right there on the computer if you were worried about being caught and indulging in risky behaviour. It's not like you couldn't back the stuff up to an encrypted hard drive, bury it somewhere, and go back to it once you'd had your latte.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2012


(The question is a genuine one, BTW. Why wouldn't you have more security precautions if you're a hacker? And would the authorities really need to go and check the router physically to get the data you need?)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2012


Well, my (admittedly fairly distant) understanding is that most of the people who consider themselves part of Anonymous are not hackers in the sense that you are thinking. There are very few people out there who are really mastermind hackers and my (hazy) understanding is that they generally work for organized crime or for governments, not for grass-roots direct-action social-justice campaigns. Anonymous are mostly just a bunch of script kiddies who are using pre-made tools to execute very simple (and fairly pointless) attacks. The level of skill is very low compared to their self-image, which is why this Doyon guy comes off as a huge tool in the article.

Short answer: they don't take better precautions because they are complete amateurs who think of what they are doing as more of a game than anything.
posted by Scientist at 8:50 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The question is a genuine one, BTW. Why wouldn't you have more security precautions if you're a hacker? And would the authorities really need to go and check the router physically to get the data you need?

Because he's an obvious attention-whore and on some level he wanted people to know, lesbiassparrow. It's like that guy who walks into a bar dressed in tweed and conspicuously starts reading a Sylvia Plath book turned at an angle such that everybody can see the title. Like I said, cannon fodder.

Short answer: they don't take better precautions because they are complete amateurs who think of what they are doing as more of a game than anything.

Scientist, I have to respectfully disagree with you there. I'm sure that there are a lot of posers like Doyen in Anonymous, but the group as a whole has pissed off some substantially powerful people who have the capability to bring a lot of resources to bear on them, and yet they're still managing to accomplish their goals consistently. That alone speaks for their resourcefulness, if nothing else.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


LOL at "goals".
posted by Artw at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2012


I can run around with a picket sign

The statement that Doyon made, and for which others have argued at greater length, is that DDoS protests like the one described in the article, or like those affecting certain government (and I think like RIAA?) sites after the Megaupload raid, are more analogous, in terms of actual disruption caused, to running around with picket signs than to vandalism, and yet obviously folks get in serious shit for DDoS protests (and for running around with picket signs, often).

Also, while the beginning of this article may or may not apply to Doyon's case, since botnets (and thus, necessarily, illicit security-breaking or malware propagation) may have been involved, DDoSes themselves are illegal (not just propagating malware or breaking security), and there seems to be an argument that this is equivalent to legislating against the type of running around with picket signs that inconveniences -- but does not harm -- anyone.
posted by kengraham at 9:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


... more security precautions ...

The key word here seems to be 'more' in that it implies any at all. If the line “They got the computer running.” is true, it's indicative of a complete unawareness of security at all. Using a tool like the HOIC is also telling; IIRC it was developed as a crude form of load testing software that makes no attempt to disguise the origin of the requests it initiates.

Beyond that, even if there were some form of encryption involved, having all of the stuff the article mentions plainly available on the computer hints to me that an encryption key of any sort would be in a text file named "Secret" or something along those lines.

As said by Scientist, this looks like an amateur playing at a pretty risky game.
posted by timfinnie at 9:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


since Anonymous is shockingly good at achieving their goals without being caught, and so it follows logically that their leaders must be pretty smart

Anonymous isn't General Electric or the Army; it's not really a single organization with goals at all, let alone one where leaders exercise significant strategic or operational control. Flocks of geese are shockingly good at flying south for the winter, but it doesn't logically follow that they're well-lead, it's simply an emergent property of all of the behaviors of the individuals.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if some park ranger saw this guy, kinda figured out that he was probably going across the border to avoid some kind of trouble he'd gotten himself into, then came up the idea: he picked up a fire extinguisher, stopped him and gave him the speech about needing to spend $150 on this giant can of bear spray before being allowed in the park.

Probably not, but who knows? If Doyon's story is true then it makes as much sense as anything else.
posted by eye of newt at 9:16 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The statement that Doyon made, and for which others have argued at greater length, is that DDoS protests like the one described in the article, or like those affecting certain government (and I think like RIAA?) sites after the Megaupload raid, are more analogous, in terms of actual disruption caused, to running around with picket signs than to vandalism, and yet obviously folks get in serious shit for DDoS protests (and for running around with picket signs, often).

For the sake of argument, if I were to DDOS Planned Parenthood's site for a week, people wouldn't be find local clinics, physician's phone numbers, or use web appointment systems for a week.

If I were to DDOS it for six hours, people wouldn't be find local clinics, physician's phone numbers, or use web appointment systems for six hours.

So, how long is an acceptable period of time for some random misogynist to shut down Planned Parenthood on a whim?


--------------------------------------------

The key word here seems to be 'more' in that it implies any at all. If the line “They got the computer running.” is true, it's indicative of a complete unawareness of security at all.


I skimmed the article. Perhaps he was using some disk encryption? (And would have to be legally coerced to give up a password?)

If he had done free-wifi -> ssh -> rooted box -> ssh -> rooted box -> ssh -> rooted box -> irc channel, they wouldn't have caught him.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:16 PM on December 11, 2012


Flocks of geese are shockingly good at flying south for the winter, but it doesn't logically follow that they're well-lead, it's simply an emergent property of all of the behaviors of the individuals.

Well, I'm just saying that whatever the methodology, it seems to yield results. As a former programmer who still works in the managed IT field (for some rather influential clients that have been the subject of previous metafilter posts), I have a healthy respect for them (although not this Doyen guy, obviously).
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding the legitemacy of the article story... I don't know why anyone would rent 50 servers, run "hundreds" of VM instances on each one, and in each VM run LOIC.

I mean, the guest OS takes up huge amounts of resources. That would make it hard to max out the network bandwidth available. Why not just bind hundreds of IPs to each server and run one instance of LOIC per/IP?
posted by sbutler at 9:18 PM on December 11, 2012


for some rather influential clients that have been the subject of previous metafilter posts

Just to clarify, Hunter Moore was NOT one of those clients - I don't want anybody to misunderstand my comment and think I'm affiliated with him in any way. My link was simply intended to exemplify how quickly Anonymous gets results.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:26 PM on December 11, 2012


So, how long is an acceptable period of time for some random misogynist to shut down Planned Parenthood on a whim?

Just one random misogynist and his or her (unethically recruited) zombie botnet hordes, or lots of random misogynists, each accessing the site individually (albeit in bad faith)? Ambulances sometimes use public roads; which actions taken against protesters blocking traffic are thereby justified? If the protesters are not actually protesters, but have been kidnapped and forced to block traffic, why is the ambulance justification needed to condemn the orchestrator? Xe has already kidnapped people, which is much worse!

A DDoS-attack-as-protest is an interesting type of protest in that the version of it that is not already bad (and already illegal) for some other reason requires a large amount of support for the protest. If one believes that a protest undertaken by large numbers of people is more legitimate, or more accurately reflects the public will, than a protest undertaken by few (I don't necessarily believe this), then one can imagine "legitimate" DAAPs, in which a very large number of people all organize to attempt to crash a site by simultaneously accessing it.

A "legitimate" DDoS is just like what happens when MetaFilter users crash some FPPed site that's not able to deal with the spike in traffic, except that it's planned. Therefore, the distinction between a "legitimate" (everyone involved is a willing participant) DDoS and a DDoS that's already illegal and unethical for other reasons (it relies on illegal and unethical techniques) also distinguishes between protests that have demonstrated large public support and protests that don't.

I don't think this is that relevant to Doyon's case, though, since it seems that "virtual sit-in" is a bad metaphor for what he was apparently involved with, at minimum because of the mention of botnets.
posted by kengraham at 9:50 PM on December 11, 2012


A "legitimate" DDoS is just like what happens when MetaFilter users crash some FPPed site that's not able to deal with the spike in traffic

Nope. Because when MeFi users slashdot a site, they're not pointing a browser at a server in bad faith. The writer's free speech on the server is honored.

When a bunch of humans or bots DDOS a site, they're doing it in bad faith, and trying to shut down the free speech of the writer.

When a huge group of people march on the town square, with a march permit or not, they're putting some skin in the game - sacrificing their time and possibly their safety.

With botnets, etc. etc.

------------------------

One rule of thumb is "how bad would it be if everyone did this?"
Random activists shutting down websites -> bad.
Random people picketing and marching -> good.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:05 PM on December 11, 2012


"Anonymous is shockingly good at achieving their goals without being caught."

Ikes, I'm not sure that would be a fair thing to say. So very many of folks associated with anonymous have been caught, so very many (the day he got caught he was one of 40 busts). Not only tools that were conned into using DDOS tools from their home, but organizers and conspirators.

Although great job DDOSing Scientology's legal attack dogs!
posted by el io at 10:40 PM on December 11, 2012


“If I could have kept the pace up, I don’t think they ever would have caught me and would eventually have given up,” Doyon says of the FBI,

I'm not sure he understands how they work. They are not a puppy dog that gets bored, and goes off to chase something else. His lawyer must be crying upon reading interviews like this where all sorts of law-breaking is admitted to.

Before he admits to crimes to reporters he should visualize these stories read into evidence.
posted by el io at 11:00 PM on December 11, 2012


"He returned to his mountain camp and “smoked some fucking weed” before considering his options."

As twerpy and narcissistic as this guy seems to be, the way the reporter keeps taking underhanded little digs at him throughout the article is kind of irritating. You don't quote someone like that unless you really, really want them to sound stupid.

Makes for some pretty funny pullquotes, though.
posted by ostro at 11:04 PM on December 11, 2012


"Random people picketing and marching -> good."

Unless you are a business that's negatively affected by the picketing (and potentially just happen to be the a business at the wrong physical location with no dog in the fight).

And occasionally I've seen 'pro-life' protesters with some gruesome pictures that' I'd rather not be confronted by when I'm passing by.

And while there are many that will argue that the Phelps should have freedom of speech (myself included), not many will argue that they are doing right.

In summary, there are plenty of physical non-violent protests that can have problematic aspects.

Personally I see not having access to a local county government website for a couple of hours less of a pain in the ass than having an extra 20 minutes added to my commute due to some physical protest.
posted by el io at 11:05 PM on December 11, 2012


In summary, there are plenty of physical non-violent protests that can have problematic aspects.

Uh-huh, and free speech is good, but I'm not keen on slander, libel, calling out fire in crowded theaters, etc.

So there are situational and context-dependent issues, often well but not perfectly addressed by the legal system.

Personally I see not having access to a local county government website for a couple of hours less of a pain in the ass than having an extra 20 minutes added to my commute due to some physical protest.

Oh, you would have been a lot of fun during the civil rights marches.

Back to websites, where do we draw the line? Bringing Planned Parenthood down for 5 minutes is ok, but 2 days isn't?

Or, it's ok to bring down a local county government website, but not Planned Parenthood?

Or, it's ok to bring down a random website of which you disapprove, as long as you're rubbish at it, so that it only goes down for a short while?


In summary, there are plenty of physical non-violent protests that can have problematic aspects.


I think it's useful to distinguish between protests that deny others the right to speak, and protests which don't infringe on peoples' right to speak.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:55 AM on December 12, 2012


His use of a Mac sets off the bulkshit detector more than anything else.

Mine has a spellchecker that works.


That's very nice. It also has some very robust capabilities allowing Apple to find your laptop where ever you happen to be using it.
posted by humanfont at 2:00 AM on December 12, 2012


Re: people protesting with signs -> good:

By way of counterpoint I would like to bring up Christopher Tolhurst, the lone Planned Parenthood anti-abortion picketer of Grants Pass, OR. Who, among other things, was picketing a PP where abortions do not actually happen.

(This isn't even getting into the altercation in which he stabbed a dude).
posted by Archelaus at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2012


Bears > The Man

"who has a reflexive dislike of all things police and calls the US government “one of the world's worst tyrannies,” admits he was handled well. No body tackles were used to subdue him, no tasers or pepper spray. (Reynolds did not respond to questions about the details of Doyon's arrest.) “I would almost go so far as to say they were gentle with me,” he admitted.

Just like the Stasi.

There's a difference between protesting violations of social contract and consensual polity and fair application of the law and attacking authority for the sake of attacking authority.

Lenny Bruce has a great bit on this. People marching and yelling Gestapo at people in uniforms.
"Gestapo? You asshole, I'm the mailman." (starts 7:14)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2012


That's very nice. It also has some very robust capabilities allowing Apple to find your laptop where ever you happen to be using it.

If you turn it on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2012


Find My Mac is seperate from Apple's ability to find you. Many apps dial home to the mothership as give away all kinds of info such as: Software Updates, App Store, iTunes, iPhoto, error reporting, the clock, Facetime, iChat, etc.
posted by humanfont at 11:24 AM on December 12, 2012


You could say the same thing about ad companies that use web cookies to track your location and browsing habits. Which can affect Windows and Linux users who browse the web, as it happens, as much as Apple users.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on December 12, 2012


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