This comic references WikiLeaks, a site to which classified data can be sent for publication, while nobody would know who leaked the data. Many people dislike WikiLeaks, but proponents claim that, since government is supposed to work for the people, all government information should be available to anyone who wants to see it. WikiLeaks' actions are illegal in most countries, and the people maintaining WikiLeaks stay anonymous, with the notable exception of Julian Assange, the spokesperson. Among the supporters of Wikileaks are the 4chan-based activism/hacker group Anonymous, who, for the week or so prior to this comic's release, used DDoS attacks to take down servers for companies that aided the governments of the world in taking down Wikileaks and its CEO, Julian Assange. Amazon, PayPal and MasterCard were all targets of Anonymous. The claim 'We are legion' is a reference to Mark chapter 5 in the Bible, in which Jesus throws out a group of demons that call themselves Legion, "for we are many."
The comic imagines an ironic scenario in which WikiLeaks, the organization Anonymous fought to protect, stays true to their mission of releasing secrets to the public, and publishes the personal information of Anonymous members. The joke in the comic notes a contradiction in Anonymous's position, relying on strict secrecy of its members' private information while supporting an anti-secrecy organization like WikiLeaks. This may be a reference to an incident in 2009 when WikiLeaks published a leaked list of some of their anonymous donors, following their then-policy of complete impartiality regarding leaks.
In theory, Anonymous consists of everyone who takes steps to remain anonymous, not merely the hackers and criminals. In practice, Julian would merely have to post a list of Wikileaks contributors.
The title text appears to be a news wire from during the Vietnam War when Lyndon B. Johnson was President in the United States. The students were calling to protest the War, in what xkcd implicates as the first DDoS attack. A DDoS attack is a Distributed Denial of Service attack, one of Anonymous' favorite tactics, in which the attackers send vast quantities of traffic from many different points to take down a web server, or, in the case of the title text, a phone network. Taken as a whole, the title text satirizes news reports in which a DDoS attack is confused with an actual hack, as only in the latter does the attacker gain (partial) access to the system itself.
- [A black formal suit with no head is talking.]
- Suit: We are Anonymous.
- We are legion.
- We are no one
- and everyone.
- And we are here to fight for WikiLeaks.
- [The panel is presented as the front page of WikiLeaks, in a browser.]
- New Leak:
- Names, addresses, IPs, and phone numbers of everyone in Anonymous.
- Download Now
- Suit: ...Dammit, Julian.
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