Week in Review: November 26, 2015

by Muira McCammon

Anonymous: Hacktivists Embrace Controversial, New Tactics to Combat ISIS

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, the collective Anonymous has claimed to have shut down as many as 20,000 Twitter accounts tied to ISIS. A Twitter spokesperson, in an interview with The Daily Dot criticized Anonymous' approach and said, “We don't review [A]nonymous lists posted online, but third party reviews have found them to be wildly inaccurate and full of academics and journalists.” Anonymous has also released the three following guides encouraging others to take part in an online operation they have called #OpParis: the Noob Guide, a Reporter Guide, and a Searcher Guide. The Noob Guide gives some tips on how netizens can learn HTML and some Python programming language; it is aimed "at everyone who wants to get started in the world of hacking." The Reporter Guide explains how to set up Twitter bots, and the Searcher Guide summarizes how to find ISIS-affiliated websites.

Austria: Country's Supreme Court Expected to Rule on Facebook Privacy Case in 2016

Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems filed a lawsuit against Facebook in 2014, alleging that the company's handling of user data violated European privacy laws. The Austrian Supreme Court has announced that it will rule on the case sometime in early 2016. His case had been previously rejected by Austria's local court, which claimed it didn't have the jurisdiction to rule on a class action of such great scale. In the interim, more than 25,000 people have so far signed on to join Schrems’ complaint against Facebook.  In a previous statement, Arndt Eversberg, CEO of Roland ProzessFinanz, the company that is paying for Schrems’ case against Facebook, said, “If the Austrian Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice allows the lawsuit, Mr. Schrems may write a bit of legal history in the privacy field for the second time — after the ‘Safe Harbor’ decision.”

Bangladesh: Government Blocks Many Social Media Websites

After the highest court in Bangladesh upheld death penalties for two influential politicians, the government blocked Facebook, Facebook, Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Line and Tango [FR]. Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid were convicted of war crimes committed during the 1971 independence conflict with Pakistan. Chowdhury was formerly a minister and member of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party; Mujahid was the secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist political party in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has not announced any plans to restore access to the aforementioned social media websites. However, a number of Facebook users have found loopholes in the ban. Arif Rahman, a Bangladeshi man, wrote that he had used a Proxy server to use his Facebook account.

Facebook: Username Hoax Revealed by Australian Man 

An Australian man made international headlines this week after revealing that his name was not Phuc Dat Bich. Netizens had rallied around his case, after he had complained of being kicked off of Facebook many times due to his controversial but allegedly real name. In a Facebook post signed "Joe Carr," he reflected, “Facebook needs to understand that it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be pranksters and tricksters [...]I want to acknowledge the supportive individuals who have encouraged those with truly interesting and idiosyncratic names that populate in different cultures. Hate and discrimination will remain if we continue to be so closed minded." The Facebook user had originally posted a picture of his passport showing his name; he expressed frustration that his account had been "shut down multiple times." His story and hoax gained international attention [VI], [DE], [FR].