Ai sat behind the glass and faced the reporter on the other side. Behind him was a cameraman. The reporter sat in front of her, a notepad and a pencil in hand. Ai had agreed star in a documentary about Anonymous, the legendary hacker group that started on 4chan. Ai, was one of the key members of the group, joining in on almost every major hack that they did.
“Ms. Fox, when did you join Anonymous?”
“July 2005, two years after they were created.”
“Is there any particular reason why you joined?”
Ai shrugged, “I wanted to be part of a community, I wanted to feel connected to other people of the hacking world. I was inspired that by joining this group I could make a difference in the world”
The reporter quickly jotted some notes down on the pad before asking his next question. “What was your first hack Ms. Fox?”
“Hal Turner, I assume your news station reported on it?”
“Of course we did, it was a pretty big story. Tell me, how did you feel afterwards?”
They succeeded, they had just hacked Hal Turner a right wing, and white supremacist. The secret texting app Anonymous created was flooded with ‘woohooos’ and emojis. Best of all they made it onto the news again, their reputation was growing. The star of it all was Ai, the amateur hacker who seemed to be cyber god when it came hacking. Along with the cheers came texts of support from her friends as well. Ai felt proud of herself it was a big accomplishment. This was her first ever hack, not some simulation made by online websites; even better her success gave her a name in Anon. Starting from virtually an unknown when she decided to join, to becoming a name talked about among the group.
“I was proud of myself. It was a success and I was a main member in the hack.”
“But Ms. Fox, what about the victim. Do you not feel bad for making a man pay over a thousand dollars in bandwidth bills for hitting his website offline?”
“Why should I? He was a white supremacist that wanted to shoot down illegal immigrants on the street.” The reporter again scribbled her quote down on the pad for a later article on her for his news station.
“Ms. Fox, there are a lot of people out there who think Anonymous was a threat to society and that they were doing more harm than good. What do you have to say to them?”
“Simple, the ones who say we’re a threat have something to hide. I’ve never heard of an honest person fearing a hero.”
After the Hal Turner story made headlines government officials rushed to the TV stations. Dozens of them droned on major networks criticizing the group's efforts. Ai scoffed at them, knowing the true reason why they hated Anon. They were afraid the group would bring their skeletons in the closet to light as well. All those politicians painted Anon as a threat to society when it was only a threat to their reputations and reelection. Anonymous was a hacktivist group on the side of the people, who were willing to show the monsters behind the masked government officials.
“That leads me to my next question, do you consider yourself a hero?”
“Of course I am. Look back at the 2007 attack we did of Chris Forcand. He was a pedophile who was luring children. Anonymous were the ones that tracked and reported him to the police, ultimately leading him to be arrested. We were not going to stand by and let a man like that continue to roam the streets. If that is not what a hero is then I don’t know what is.”
“In 2012, seven years after you joined Anonymous, you and a few other major hackers in the group were arrested. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“According to the FBI report what led to your downfall was an informant Hector Monsegur, or Sabu as he was known in Anon.”
It was early in the morning when Ai heard banging on her door. She had just started college a few weeks ago and was living in an off campus apartment. Ai was going to school to be a lawyer, something she had always dreamed of being. With a large yawn Ai opened the door, expecting it to be Marcy who frequently crashed at her place after parties. To her surprise it was not the usual disheveled teenager she was used to seeing, instead it was a team of officers armed with guns and bullet proof vests. As soon as the door opened they rushed in. One officer pinned her to the floor while the others searched the apartment. The next few hours after that was a blur, all Ai knew was that she found herself sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial. It would be a few days later when she learned that Sabu had ratted her and several other hackers out to the FBI to save his neck. Sabu had records to all their conversations, leaving no possibility of pleading innocent. The most her lawyer could do was get a reduced sentence for her.
Ai was handed a ten year sentence by the judge. The dreams of a graduating college, becoming a lawyer,and becoming a successful member of society were gone. Within a few moments, years of future accomplishments were taken from her. As she walked out of the courtroom though; Ai held her head high. She had just made a hero’s sacrifice today, she had given up herself for the good of others. They had aided the Iranians against rigged elections, prevented the government from censoring the internet to civilians, and supported the freedom of information for all. So when she went to prison she would keep her head high. During her time in Anon she had already decided that when this time came, she would have no regrets.
“Let me ask you Ai, do you regret joining Anonymous. If you could, would you take everything back?”
Ai laughed at the reporter. “Of course not! Why would I take back the power I had to make a difference this world? Me, a simple teenager with the help of a few others managed to make international news and change the course of events. No, I regret nothing, during my time in Anon I knew exactly what I was getting into. That’s why even now you see me leading my life proudly rather than wallowing in regret. In fact, if I could go back in time, I would do it all again without a moment’s hesitation.”
“Final question, what is your hope for the community of hackers in the future?“
“My hope is for them to use their powers for good. Us hackers are the new face of the free world. So, I ask them to use their powers to liberate the people from the hands of the government, the hands of the corrupt, the hands of evil. My wish is to see people like me rise up again to the challenge and fight until the very end.”
“You can stop filming, we’re done. Have a good day Ms.Fox” The reporter stood up stuffing the pen and notepad into his breast pocket. Together the pair left Ai sitting alone on the other side of the glass, watching them walk back into society. Ai watched them go, hoping that someone out there too would don the cloak of a hero.