Not much of a surprise, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been infiltrated. A New York-based security consultant called Thomas Ryan and a team of IT security professionals managed to access systems used by the movement.
As part of their intelligence-gathering operation, the group gained access to a listserv used by Occupy Wall Street organizers called September17discuss. On September17discuss, organizers hash out tactics and plan events, conduct post-mortems of media appearances, and trade the latest protest gossip. On Friday, Ryan leaked thousands of September17discuss emails to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is now using them to try to smear Occupy Wall Street as an anarchist conspiracy to disrupt global markets.
What may much more alarming to Occupy Wall Street organizers is that while Ryan was monitoring September17discuss, he was forwarding interesting email threads to contacts at the NYPD and FBI, including special agent Jordan T. Loyd, a member of the FBI’s New York-based cyber security team. (…) …Loyd cited Occupy Wall Street as an example of a “newly emerging threat to U.S. information systems.”
The incident highlights structural weaknesses of open collaborative platforms in social environments with detrimental perceptions and interests. A group that wants to become a mass movement doesn’t have the choice of operating and planning in secrecy. Nor does it have the means to sanction – from the perspective of the group – anti-social behaviour. At yet another frontier, Generation Openness is learning the hard way that sharing can come with costs. It’ll be interesting to observe the institutional innovations, the OWS movement will inevitably come up with.