Like most tech-world outsiders, I rarely know how seriously to take news about hacking.
On any other week I might not pay much attention to today’s report from CNet announcing that Antisec, a group of hackers loosely affiliated with Anonymous, is targeting the biotech seed giant Monsanto. After all, the data the group made available online is from over a decade ago. And the threat they’ve published (see below) is ominous perhaps, but vague.
So why draw attention to it here? This isn’t your average week for Monsanto news.
On Monday, the class action lawsuit by a group of farmers looking, ironically, to protect themselves against lawsuits by Monsanto, was dropped in a federal court. To add insult to injury, the presiding judge called the case “a transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.”
If you’ve been following Monsanto’s strategic efforts over the years, like we have at Grist, you’ll know the judge’s decision was the best outcome the company could have asked for: A court of law has declared farmers bankrupted by lawsuits when they unknowingly infringe on what are essentially copyright laws as commonplace. And in truth, many of us in the food movement have gotten used to hearing about the 100 documented cases of farmers who have met this fate — so it’s not exactly news. But not controversial?
A moment like this might lead those of us who usually stick to a rational argument to secretly cheer on activists who, say, blockade the doors of Monsanto headquarters in Washington D.C. (like a group of Occupy D.C. protesters did on Wednesday) or publish menacing threats online.
For better or worse the hacker movement speaks from one of the darker, least-accountable corners of our collective consciousness. Even if you don’t agree with the message or the tactics, it can be cathartic to hear that voice speak out loud (or in this case, typed in red code on a website that looks like it was built in 1992). On that note, here is what Antisec’s message to Monsanto said in full:
Your continued attack on the worlds food supply, as well as the health of those who eat it, has earned you our full attention. Your crimes against humanity are too many to name on one page, you have put over 9000 small-time farmers out of business by using your enormous legal team to bury them with your malicious patent lawsuits. You have continually introduced harmful, even deadly products into our food supply without warning, without care, all for your own profit.
We are aware that posting this outdated database will do little to harm you. Rest assured, we will continue to dox your employees and executives, continue to knock down your websites, continue to fry your mail servers, continue to be in your systems, and continue to expose your bullshit.
What did I tell you? Weirdly satisfying, isn’t it?