How Many Countries Is Anonymous In? Here's What We Know About The Opaque Group
Anonymous! You know them, right? The high-profile (yet at the same time, somehow startlingly opaque) hacker group, performers of admirable works of activism to some, and unwelcome disruptions to others. Over the past several years, they've gained a notoriety that once seemed unthinkable, from its early days as an anti-Scientology group to its current, worldwide prominence. Which raises the question — how many countries is Anonymous in? And, of course, how do those countries feel about it?
It's a worthy question, as online activism, protest, and notions of cyber-security have become factors of everyday life over recent years. And while it's quite frankly impossible to figure out Anonymous' membership and nations of residence in a comprehensive manner — it's right there in the name, after all — there are some places we definitely know Anonymous members have lived and operated, and some places, mostly for reasons of government control, that we know they're pretty damn unwelcome.
Basically, any member of Anonymous can theoretically operate out of any country that ensures free and open internet access, so taking a look at where access is most available makes sense. In spite of the burgeoning movement to have internet access declared a human right — or maybe, because of it — there are also a number of countries that don't offer that kind of freedom. Most notably, countries like Iran, Pakistan and Syria maintain tight controls on internet access. On the other hand, North Korea (the so-called "Hermit Kingdom") bans conventional access in favor of a monitored, severely limited domestic network.
Of course, a repressive government doesn't mean Anonymous can't get involved — in fact, quite the contrary. Even though there have undoubtedly been Anonymous operations that most people would find extremely problematic, they also tend to tackle high-profile instances of oppression or societal failings, like the Egyptian revolution in 2011, and the Steubenville rape case in 2013.
Basically, as an explicitly nameless, faceless movement, the best way to figure out where they are and where they aren't is probably to look at levels of internet access writ large. And, as detailed by the Washington Post back in 2014, a recent study shines some light on this very question — 4.4 billion of the world's estimated 7+ billion people still can't get online, and the worst of the situation is in Myanmar, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bangladesh, all of which boast a 90+ percent internet-deprived citizenry. In short, with a staggering 99.5 percent of Myanmar's public unable to log on, it's a safe bet that Anonymous isn't a native phenomenon there.
Rather, it's the countries with the most available, high-speed internet access that you'd expect to set the pace. Places like South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and the UK.
Of course, if you're looking for some names of countries that Anonymous can definitively be shown to have operated in, it might not be a bad idea to check some international courtrooms — governments tend not to like these folks, to put it mildly. Back in 2012, a reported 25 people across four countries were arrested for alleged involvement with the group, in Spain, Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
Images: Getty Imageshere, not by a long shot.