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Anonymous Hacks Tear Gas Company

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Last week, hacker group Anonymous took on Syrian president Bashar al Hassad, releasing private correspondences between him and his closest aids. Among the most incriminating were strategic briefings for his interview with Barbara Walters that promised: “American psyche can easily be manipulated when they hear that there are ‘mistakes’ done and now we are ‘fixing it.’”

Continuing with their support of the Arab Spring, yesterday Anonymous took down the web site for Combined Systems Inc, a major tear gas manufacturer. The company’s products were used against Bahrainis celebrating the one-year anniversary of their first pro-democracy protests.

In the past, according to the Washington Post, protestors have reported finding tear gas canisters labeled with CSI’s name and address. Many have claimed that it is more powerful than other brands of tear gas.

In a statement taking credit for the attack, Anonymous called CSI “war profiteers” and warned the company that, if they think they can get away with selling “mad chemical weapons to militaries and cop shops” they better “think again.” The statement goes on to list a number of protests that were broken up by CSI products, and asks the company if they thought Anonymous would forget.

The website for Jamestown, PA-based CSI is still down as of this writing. Beyond taking down the website, Anonymous also released name, address and password information for dozens of employees and clients. According to their statement, the hacker group also “went the extra mile by dumping email for some of the pigs ordering anti-protestor gear.”

Hacker groups have been extremely active in support of social causes over the last few months. Last week, Foxconn -- manufacturer for companies like Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) -- was hacked over worker rights abuses. At around the same time, Anonymous attacked the CIA and released a number of Alabama court records.

For the moment, it seems like “hactivism” is not only here to stay, but is becoming a powerful force in support of popular protest movements. It goes without saying that the idea of hackers who are willing, and clearly able, to release the private info online is more than a bit scary.

Still, the hackers form an interesting, and fairly valuable, popular force. And anyways, to paraphrase the group, anyone who thinks they can stop Anonymous with tear gas and subpoenas has another thing coming.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.