TORONTO – Online activists are expected to rally in over 400 cities across the world Wednesday to support the global “hacktivist” group Anonymous in a day of action.
Anonymous members will take to the streets during the “Million Mask March,” which aims to “shed light on corrupt government in order to set people free from oppression,” according to the group.
The hashtag #FifthofNovember is being widely used to show support for the movement that takes place on Guy Fawkes Night each year. But what exactly is the event all about?
What is Anonymous?
Anonymous, founded in 2003, operates as a leaderless hacktivist group – made of up of “anons” from all corners of the world. Without any leadership or ranking within the association, anyone can join Anonymous if they wish to support its causes.
Members of the group never publicly identify themselves – instead they wear Guy Fawkes masks and use voice manipulators when speaking in videos.
In 2008, the group established itself on the global hacktivism stage after declaring war on the Church of Scientology. The group went on to launch several denial-of-service attacks on Visa, MasterCard and PayPal in anti-piracy protests.
Most recently the group came under fire after releasing the name of a man they believed to be the officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this August; the group turned out to be wrong.
Why Guy Fawkes?
Guy Fawkes has become somewhat of an unofficial mascot for the group, which describes itself as a “truth movement” and aims to “shed light on corrupt government in order to set people free from oppression.”
Guy Fawkes was a member of the Gunpowder Plot, a group that plotted to blow up the House of Lords in London, England in order to assassinate King James I.
The plot was supposed to take place on November 5, 1605 during the State Opening of England’s Parliament; however authorities learned of the plot through an anonymous letter and arrested its members, including Fawkes.
The main character in the comic book series V for Vendetta wore a Guy Fawkes mask. The 2006 movie adaptation of the comic made the mask a pop culture icon.
The character is often associated with protests against authority – which makes it a perfect fit for Anonymous. The group now uses Guy Fawkes Night – widely recognized in the U.K. – as a day of action.
What is the Million Mask March?
Every year, Anonymous holds the “Million Mask March” on Guy Fawkes Night to bring attention to its causes.
According to the group’s website, the event has earned the title of the world’s largest protest for the last two years.
Because Anonymous has no leadership, members organize rallies in their own cities. This year members in 481 cities plan to hold rallies.
Events are being held in 18 Canadian cities including Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.
More than 500 people have RSVP’d to the event in Toronto on Facebook. The rally will take place in front of the Ontario legislation building at 5 p.m. According to the Facebook page, members will rally the government to appoint a citizen-run oversight committee that ensures Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) respect the privacy of Canadians, amongst other things.
“Peaceful march to meet and greet like-minded individuals. Absolutely no violence will be tolerated,” reads the page.
Anonymous has released a map showing all of the global events taking place Wednesday. Many of the larger protests will also have live streams, according to the group’s Facebook page.