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Anonymous issues call to arms for global protest

Infamous on-line hacking group Anonymous has apparently issued a call to arms to the denizens of the Internet, in order to kickstart a series protest in defence of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

Because of the very nature of the leaderless movement, it's impossible to confirm the veracity of the appeal - which comes complete with a rallying YouTube video and a brief explanation of the group's mission and methodology.

"Since its inception, the internet has provided new ways for people all over the world to exercise the rights of free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly," says the unattributed blog posting. "These rights are not simply the benefits of a free society - they are the very means of preserving that society's freedom. The recent increase in government interference with these freedoms coincides with the failure of the corporate media to fulfil their vital role in checking the abuse of authority. Censorship and journalistic abdication have left citizens unaware and unable to hold their governments accountable."

Anonymous has recently conducted a highly visible campaign against private companies who have tried to make things difficult for WikiLeaks and its enigmatic frontman Julian Assange, carrying out DDoS attacks on the likes of Mastercard and Paypal which both bowed to political pressure to cut off the organisation's funding.

And now it seems that WikiLeaks has become the collective's cause célèbre, with other activities, including a protracted campaign against the Church of Scientology, taking a back seat.

"WikiLeaks has moved to fill the void left by traditional news media, providing the necessary information for citizens to hold their governments to account," the statement continues.

"Yet it has not been granted the legal protections generally afforded to journalists. Instead, the organization has been vilified and monetary support has been blocked by governments and private corporations. The vitriol aimed at WikiLeaks demonstrates an unsettling disregard for the fundamental freedom to exchange information and express ideas. Members of a free society must not allow information to be suppressed simply because it inconveniences those in power. We share the responsibility to defend vital liberties."

Despite some members of the collective being unearthed and arrested by the police, Anonymous says it will be stepping up its action in support of WikiLeaks.

"We are now prepared to take the fight to the world stage. Join us on January 15th for the first in a series of global protests in defense of WikiLeaks and freedom of expression. Stand with us to defend your freedoms."

No firm details on the nature of the protest have been offered but past attacks have involved bombarding the web sites of targeted institutions using the so called Low-Orbit Ion Cannon, a freely available distributed denial of service (DDosS) tool which overloads Internet servers with garbage traffic.

Anyone thinking of joining the protest should be aware that, if you don't know what you're doing, the Feds can trace you.

What is more likely, judging from the video, is that Anonymous will be asking its supporters to gather in major cities all over the world to protest about the erosion of free speech increasingly imposed by Governments in the name of national security and at the behest of corporate concerns.

We might see if we can lay our hands on a couple of cases of V for Vendetta Guy-style Fawkes masks. Could be worth a bob or two on the day.