"Transparency," explains the computer-altered voice belonging to the face hidden behind the mustachioed, comic-book smirk mask, "is of the utmost importance."
Irony, it would appear, is lost on Anonymous, the self-anointed Secret Santa sheriffs of the Internet netherworld.
Late last week, Anonymous Maritimes, an apparent branch plant of the leader-less worldwide network of you-are-one-if-you-say-you-are Internet "hacktivists" -- which began in 2008 with an attempt to "take down" the Church of Scientology, which appears, unfortunately, to be still standing -- issued its latest YouTube manifesto.
"Greetings, citizens of Nova Scotia," the three-minute-and-25-second message began after a suitably news-flashy opening featuring a spinning globe, ominous music and the ubiquitous headless suited man. "We are Anonymous."
The issue that has Anonymous's knickers in a knot this week is one that exercises many of us: electricity rates. They're too high. Most of Anonymous's so-called demands -- "reasonable and balanced" rates, no disconnecting power just because people can't afford to pay, basing rates on actual rather than estimated usage, a wage freeze and end to excessive executive bonuses -- resonate. But they are garden variety frustrations you can hear in any Tim Hortons any morning anywhere in our city… from people who are more than happy to put their names to their complaints.
So why does Anonymous need to be… well, anonymous.
"We have information that will confirm there is corruption and more coming to us every day (sic)," Faceless Disembodied Voice declares.
Anonymous seems to be threatening to release this evidence -- "We intend to make an example of you" -- if Nova Scotia Power and "Mr. Stephen McNeil" don't bow to its blackmail.
Forget for the moment that power rates are complicated. Fossil fuels, carbon, climate change…
Why wait, Anon? If the corruption is serious enough to make politicians and corporate executives cower -- effectively forcing them into changing policies and reducing power rates (Earth to Anonymous: heard of the Utility and Review Board, which regulates power rates?) -- then surely we should all know exactly what Anonymous has uncovered.
If Anonymous actually released evidence of corruption at Nova Scotia Power, its members might be able to justify hiding behind their cutesy masks and voice-altering software.
But they aren't. For now, they're just blusterers. Hiding their faces. And playing their games.
This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.
Photo: Mattia Notari/flickr
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