Last week, the hacker collective known as Anonymous posted online what they claim are semi-nude photos of BART spokesman Linton Johnson. In light of this very personal attack, we discuss the ethics of hacking. Will public officials now have to live in fear of angering individuals with sophisticated knowledge of computers and technology?

Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit group devoted to protecting civil liberties online
Peter Fein, "hacktivist" who worked with Anonymous as an organizer for Operation BART

  • erictremont

    Hacking for confidential data is totally illegal and immoral, so as far as I am concerned this is not even a worthy topic for discussion as it deflects attention from the core issue, i.e., was the BART police officer justified in using deadly force?  The infantile and petulant Left in the Bay Area don’t want to discuss the core issue because they know the majority of citizens do not accept their premise that BART police are out of control, so we get distracted by collateral issues like who has the right to curtail cell phone use or hack into private databases.  Trust me, if a crazed mob attempted to disrupt, say, the annual S.F. Gay Pride parade to protest gay marriage, nobody would be discussing hacking or control over cell phones.    

  • Elehfemme

    At a minimum someone “reposted” what Linton Johnson had posted. If Linton didn’t want people to see his “Johnson”, he would of never posted it in a publicly accessable website.

  • Ken Jaffee

    Anonymous is a terrorist organization. By hacking the MYBART site and publishing e-mails and phone numbers of people entering contests it has resulted in my friend getting obscene phone calls for the last 3 weeks explaining her as collateral damage. The damage outweighs any good. She is not a public figure.

  • Sam

    Two people have died in dubious circumstances on BART. If people in BART administration have the ability to reform the police and they aren’t, then civil disobedience is necessary. It’s only when civil disobedience is used that anybody notices the protests.

  • Cwilliams

    Bart’s Management is totally inept, if Anonymous has to resort to this type of behavior to expose the corruption in Bart ranging from illegal contributions from contractors to Bart’s Board Members, the lack of training and skill of Bart police, and the mismanagement of the system so be it. They have captured the attention if the whole world and just maybe some beneficial changes will come about and force the Bart transparent and accountable.

  • Stephanie

    This guy, and “anonymous” are completely full of it, and have mangled even the most liberal interpretation of “free speech”. Protest, say or shout what you will, hold your signs, but do it somewhere and somehow in which you’re not interfering or obstructing every other deserving American’s RIGHTS to freedom and liberty in the course of their day. 

    Your first Amendment rights end where anothers’ begins.You could have been an underground superhero for change and civic engagement, but you’ve shown you’re a vindictive bully with no clear motive or purpose other than disruption.

    • Socalknitwit

      Bart is closing the stations, not the protesters.  

      • Gabe

        As result of the protests…

        • Elehfemme

          as a result of too many police, reporters and protestors. Not all protestors operate under the banner of anonymous, in fact very few do…however anonymous does publicize protest events very effectively

    • ericthefool

       No, sir.  The MEDIA is what makes them out to be vindictive bullies and you go along with it…..BAHhhhhhhhhh!

  • David L

    I couldn’t agree more with the current caller. Anonymous is disreputable and their actions are largely self-serving and non-supportable. I would not like to trust to their judgement as to the extreme to which they would consider “disruptive” behavior acceptable. 

  • Anonymous

    We don’t have to LIKE that people posted photos (that were publicly accessible) to support their right to free speech. 

  • Haight11

    So sick of Anonymous!  Make them go away.  If taking away their posters, and protest rights away at BART and if that turns SF into a police state than please make it happen.  They are little malcontents that care nothing of their fellow man/woman or society, they are selfish, inconsiderate, losers and I cannot stand them.  Just listening to the whining, sniveling voice of the guy on the radio is enough to make me want to reach across the lines and choke him.  They are so righteous about something they should be ashamed of.  I hope they all go to jail and the full force of the law is used againist them! 

    • ericthefool

      GJ Amerikan fascist! Hitler would be proud!

  • Lee Thé

    Outing someone who’s already out is both gay-bashing and idiotic, but it certainly highlights how out of touch the BART protestors are.

    BART has no right to try to stop peaceful protests on public land. On the other hand, it has not just a right but an obligation to protect its customers from service disruptions on space that’s under its legal control. Just as it’s obligated to protect customers from citizen brutality like the thug flashmobs in the UK that used texting to avoid cops and steal more.

    As for the precipitating incident, anyone with the IQ of a carrot would realize that the BART cop thought he was tazing the guy–not shooting him in the back in cold blood in front of dozens of witnesses.

    So this whole protest stems from misplaced animus towards all cops by people whose grandparents were brutalized by cops–mostly in the deep South.

    Ordinary BART customers have rights too. Who’s protesting on their behalf?

    • Sam

      there was a second BART shooting and if the first BART shooting was really a confusion between the taser and the gun as mesherle said then someone at BART was making a serious mistake in putting half-trained public transit cops on the beat with guns. So either way BART protests are justified.

      • Socalknitwit

        Further, had it actually been his taser, it would STILL have been brutal, excessive force against a subdued and handcuffed suspect.  

  • Chrisco

    It is only a comment but perfectly illustrates the debasement and meaninglessness of the word “terrorist”. A writer says that Anonymous is a terrorist organization because they did something and now his or her friend gets prank phone calls. The prank phone call terrorist network! Maybe they are puppet terrorist crank callers.

    • Joe

      You know what is real terrorism?  The big banks that manipulate the commodities market to drive up the price of gasoline for the average American.  How come there’s a public outcry because a group of online chums pointed out how ridiculous BART is acting, but nothing about how we’re getting screwed over by banks.  

      I suppose one is much easier to understand, so let’s just ignore the other one. 

  • Chrisco

    Anonymous is selfish and all about themselves. They made my commute 5 minutes longer!

  • Chrisco

    Can we hear some Linton Kwesi Johnson on the radio. Turn up the bass.

  • Bunco

    Michael and his guests are saying that Anonymous’ motivations in posting the photos cannot be pinpointed. However, they’ve made it pretty explicit:

    “Linton Johnson we have fourteen embarrassing photos of you. You have 24 hours to step down.”

    It sounds like the photos were obtained without hacking. That doesn’t change the fact that the Anons posting them clearly indicated an intent not just to embarrass or harrass, but to blackmail.

    • Elehfemme

      So wait a minute. Linton posted them and is was not embarrasing, but when the same pictures were reposted…suddenly it became embarrasing? How does that make any sense. If you have watched the way things played out, it was Linton’s Partner and Bart that was embarassed about the reposting….not Linton.

  • Joe

    I’d much rather believe that everyone is competent and not corruptible because it makes me feel better.  Shame on anonymous for making me think outside of my white picket fence, everyone smiling, no problems anywhere world.

    Wake up.  Anonymous is revealing ignorance.  

  • aguynamedben

    Krasny: You got trolled: and even though I don’t agree with Anonymous’ tactics, it was hilarious to hear a well-known internet joke played out on NPR. You should do a show on trolling (see ), memes, and internet creativity, and their impact on media outlets and unknowing bystanders.

    More references…

    The cultural intricacies of internet-based humor and vast differences in how people perceive jokes originating on the internet is much more interesting than the specific “is Anonymous bad” debate.

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