Anons of Anonymous

Anons of Anonymous…

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, you’re likely aware it’s a leaderless group. It’s basically an open-source corporation, completely with PR, IT, and legal defense. If you’re only aware of Anons who have been imprisoned, know that there are plenty who continue working against the machines under the Anonymous banner. Let’s look behind the masks at a few notable Anons of Anonymous to get you started in your journey into the hive…

Gabriella Coleman (Scholar)

Biella Coleman is an anthropologist who is fascinated by Anonymous and the idea of the hive-mind. She’s an author, and has written numerous pieces on hacker culture.Coleman’s TED Talk on Anonymous is a great introduction to the hive, and she documents any and all notable happenings as research material for her books on the subject. While Biella isn’t known publicly as an Anon, one would need to be insane to think Jane Goodall is living with the chimps without mimicking their behavior.

Cordell Cameron (DBCoopa)

Infamous computer hacker DBCoopa is one of the Anon hackers you don’t often hear about. That’s because after turning the Dallas, TX Dept of Corrections servers into his personal playground in the early 2000s, Dell Cameron went straight and joined the media. Now a struggling investigative journalist for the Daily Dot, Cameron is the current head of YourAnonNews, a popular Anonymous news brand. Dell Cameron is one of Anonymous’ earlier hacktivist members.

Jay Leiderman (Lawyer)

Originally getting involved with Anonymous during several of their high-profile criminal cases, loud-mouthed lawyer Jay Leiderman is a prominent member of Anon. Leiderman regularly meets with Anon inner-circles and helps guide followers in the right direction of breaking laws. By defending several high-profile Anons (although not very successfully, considering all his clients are in prison), Jay Leiderman has propelled himself from an ambulance chaser promoting on the back of a phone book to Sean Penn status inCarlito’s Way.

Christopher Banks (Jackal Anon)

An anarchist in the mountains of Colorado, Christopher Banks is known online as Jackal Anon, a Twitter user who branded many large Anonymous accounts, including YourAnonNews, an activist new aggregation service, and SexyFawkes, an Anonymous pinup blog filled with nudes, most notably frequented by his girlfriend, and soon to be wife for legal purposes, Amelia Cohen.


In spring 2013, Banks ran an IndieGoGo campaign to fund a YourAnonNews websitepromised to launch this summer, but, over $54k in public donations later, the site still hasn’t materialized. The group released public statements attributing the failed project to Christopher Banks’ child support (since proven false), a Time Warner injunction against the usage of the Guy Fawkes logo, and rumors of the YAN team borrowing the money Harry & Lloyd style (Dumb and Dumber).

Amber Lyon (Journalist)

Originally an investigative journalist, Amber Lyon blew the whistle on the media and forged her own path through the media, using the connections she made in her career to catapult herself to internet fame. Lyon joined Anonymous through Dell Cameron, whose company she hired to build her Muckraker site. Amber contributes her insight and experiences to YourAnonNews and the Anon reporter while helping promote the Anonymous brand.

Brian Penny versability whistleblower silver tie aviatorsBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance consultant, and troll. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Huffington Post, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company.


YourAnonNews or OurAnonNews?

Over the summer, Anonymous began to heat up the media with rumors of a YourAnonNews site launching, based on the popular Twitter/Tumblr account that has become a leading source of activism news. A crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGoGo contributed over $50k to the project, and all signs pointed to a late summer launch.

We’re in the final quarter of 2013, and there’s still no YAN site to show for all the money donated. Activists, hackers, and Anons worldwide are beginning to get antsy and look for answers. T-shirts and cups promised for donations have yet to be delivered. The hive has been stirred up, and everybody’s pointing fingers.

So what happened? 

There’s only three possible scenarios I see, and it’s up to each of us to fully examine both the situation and the people involved to work toward a resolution. As the debate is starting to heat up (with the ninjas in the #UnicormCr3w getting riled up and ready to start kicking ass and taking names), now’s a good time to familiarize yourselves with the epicenter of the finger-pointing debate.

Can Anarchists Manage a Project…?

Anyone familiar with YourAnonNews is aware the project was started by a couple of Anonymous anarchists in Colorado: @JackalAnon and @EisMC2. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to the two of them on several occasions over the years. When I first blew the whistle, Emmi (along with her sister) and Jackal were among the first people to reach out to me and provide support. Learning they were in charge of launching the website gave me confidence it would turn out ok.

On August 16, 2013, Emmi released a pastebin PR statement detailing what work had been done on the site. The next day, JoePie91, a fervent opponent of YourAnonNews, wrote a response blog, breaking down inconsistencies in Emmi’s statement. Jackal has gone silent (posting only about the large quantities of drugs he has access to), and Emmi appears to have her hands full handling critics.

Now, with an initial failure under their belt, the pressure is building on Emmi & Jackal to produce results. With critics popping up from every corner, both within Anonymous and externally, the current method isn’t working, and something needs to be done. The issues appear to be attributed more to the inexperience of the project managers than any bad intentions. However it happened, though, it seems to have isolated these two dedicated Anons, and, if the project is ever to materialize, it’ll take a lot of elbow grease that they likely won’t be capable of providing without help…but that’s only half the story…

The Journalist with a Cause…

While Jackal and Emmi were working on the technical and promotional aspects of YAN, they weren’t doing anything on the content side. When I was initially contacted about contributing to the project, it wasn’t by Jackal and Emmi, who know exactly where to find me; it was by Dell Cameron, a new-media journo who was working on both YourAnonNews and CNN whistleblower Amber Lyon’s Muckracker news sites.

Dell was out making initial contacts to various journalists and writers, looking for contributions to #YAN – the problem is he never followed up, and I never received any answers as to why. For every finger pointed in the direction of Jackal and Emmi, there’s another one pointed squarely at Cameron. Was YourAnonNews nothing more than a way for Dell Cameron and Amber Lyon to promote themselves? Or has Dell just been pulled in too many directions? Burnout is real, even for those of us who work from home.

Rumors like these have already spread on Twitter about both sides to this story:

YourAnonNews or OurAnonNews…?

Regardless of what happened, decisions need to be made. With SecureDrop, uStream, and Wikileaks already established, leakers, whistleblowers, and citizen journalists have options for reporting the news. Citizen journalism has already gone gonzo, and everyone has an equal opportunity to gain traction for their story. If a working and staffed site doesn’t go up soon, #YAN may just end up falling victim to its own success.

At the end of the day, YourAnonNews is a very ambitious project, but it appears not to have panned out. I’m certain those who donated to the project will be out for vengeance, but it’s vital that we don’t lose focus on the actual intent of the project: YourAnonNews was supposed to provide an open-sourced news platform, but ended up becoming a vanity project (although whose vanity it fanned is currently up for debate).

I say we scrap the entire thing and start again from scratch, transforming YourAnonNews, an elitest project with a small minority controlling the information flow of millions, into OurAnonNews, a truly open-sourced news aggregation service in which all news is submitted, and the hive-mind decides what’s popular via a voting system. If a story catches fire, it was meant to be. The only back-end involvement should be similar to that of Wikipedia (a non-profit that handles high-volume traffic with few issues).

That’s my 2 cents on the story, but what do you think of YourAnonNews and the future of #Anonymous?

Brian Penny Versability Anon Now Anon LaterBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance consultant, and troll. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company, Huffington PostMainstreetLifehack, and HardcoreDroid.