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Anonymous Phase 2: RTI Crowdsourcing

Submitted by Karthik on 12 June, 2012 - 23:16

After the low key response to the June 9 protests, Anonymous India has labelled it only "Phase 1" of their plans and have announced "Phase 2". The second phase has been dubbed "Operation RTI" and appears to be an elaborate recce to unearth information related to Internet censorship in the country. The plan is to get "citizens of India" to file RTI applications pertaining to any communications between government officials and companies such as Google and Facebook. Anonymous goes on to further request said citizens to obtain collateral information such as alternate e-mail addresses used by officials.

Operation RTI is almost cute in its approach. One of the reasons being touted for the failure of the June 9 protests is that armchair protester headcount will not necessarily translate across into the real world. Or IOW, the majority of Tweeple and FeeBle (I might have made this word up) lack cojones and/or the initiative to go beyond clicking the Retweet or Like buttons to show their support. By moving from requiring people to physically march in protest, the barrier is being lowered significantly as protesters can now assist either through a visit to a post office or possibly from the comfort of their couches.

The "targets" of these RTIs are effectively *everybody* who matters in the relevant departments. The Anonymous announcement indicates that this is going to be an organised effort to list targets and to prevent any duplication of applications, and that information received will later be collated and released to the public. While the "collective" is infamous for its DDOS attacks, this operation is in many ways a crowdsourcing equivalent. It could potentially cause an RTI denial of service if it works with the kind of numbers that Anonymous is probably hoping for; but the incidental mention of dredging up alternate e-mail addresses is intriguing as the group has done interesting things with e-mail accounts.

One can only be even more sceptical of Phase 2 than of Phase 1's June 9 protests. Besides wondering if people care enough and want to stick their necks out at all, it is unknown if the online RTI application form actually works. [facetious]Do the kind of people involved still know how to use the post office or remember how to enter an SBI branch to make a payment?[/facetious]

There's also the transience of Internet memory to, well, keep in mind, as many people have simply moved on. At any rate, it's time for more popcorn as the show resumes.