Anonymous Targets Neo-Nazi Sites: Anti-Hate Groups Condemn Action

A new website launched by the hacker collective known as Anonymous is targeting the neo-Nazi movement in Germany.

The new site, Nazi-leaks.net, contains names and other personal information Anonymous claims to have captured from a variety of extreme right wing websites, including Thor Steiner, which used to be a popular apparel shop with modern goosesteppers, and the Junge Freiheit newspaper, which has filed a lawsuit against the site's operators.

Launch of the website is just the latest move in Anonymous' campaign against neo-Nazism in Germany. Called Operation Blitzkrieg, the initiative was unwrapped several weeks ago but remained largely under the radar until this week.

Does Bad Behavior Justify Anonymous' Attacks?

Recent publicity about the operation has been less about its stance on neo-Nazism than about the hactivist collective's methods in fighting it. Even Nazi haters have criticized the tactics of Anonymous, according to Deutsche Welle. Referring to Anonymous attacks that have taken some extreme right wing sites offline, Simone Rafael, from the anti-Nazi website Netz-Gegen-Nazis, told the new outlet that it was good "to remove the [Nazi] filth from the Net for a few days" but not to publish personal data on the Internet without its owner's permission.

"If some extreme right-winger were to do this, we'd be furious, too," she added.

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

As is often the case with actions by Anonymous, there's always one faction of the group ready to knock what another faction does. In this case, members of the group in Hamburg called the website a "bad" idea. "The best way to handle people like Nazis is with ridicule and education," they wrote to Deutsche Welle in an email.

Without a doubt, treatment of Nazism has been a controversial subject in the tech world for years. Yahoo had a run in with France at the turn of the century over auctions selling Nazi memorabilia and as recently as last year Microsoft blocked the appearance of swastikas in Xbox Live.

While Anonymous may think that the righteousness of what it has done trumps the privacy rights of a few neo-Nazis, would they feel the same way about their personal information being published to the Web by a group with an equally righteous attitude toward the privacy of Anonymous members? We think not.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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