The power of revealing certain agendas, for private or allies’ interests, was for a long time an exclusive, almost hidden power of journalistic corporations, news agencies and private or state media. All of them are key pieces in a culture of secrecy, a part of a system which is, above all, based on a constant war of information during which certain groups, corporations and states decide what is of public interest or not based on what is of interest to them. In the first week of last September, though, we watched a strong antagonistic tool to this system being put to test: hacktivism.
The invasion of Fib Bank’s — a company investigated by a Parliamentary commission leaded by the Senate in Brazil — website carried out by EterSec, a Brazilian cell of the Anonymous activist group, demonstrated how this practice manages to give relevance to agendas that are outside the control zone of corporations during the digital age. In this case, that kind of activim further highlighted the investigations that are taking place at the CPI (Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, Parliamentary Inquiry Commission in English), in which the attacked company is investigated for alleged participation in a possible corruption scandal involving the purchase of the Indian vaccine Covaxin.
The group used a strategy called Defacing, something similar to graffiti. Instead of graffiti, they left a bold message, declaring war on the president while using the website (or wall), of the chosen company, drawing attention to what according to them, is “a knowingly corrupt institution”.
They found several trust letters in which the company appears as guarantor in several contracts, many of them referring to public bids, in addition to the one already investigated by the Covid-19 CPI, a special commission carried out by the Brazilian Senate in order to investigate certain actions, groups or politicians. All documents acquired were made available to everyone who wanted to have access, as it should be.
Giving access to this information and demonstrating that multimillion-dollar public contracts were signed with a straw-man company, which means it has an empty corporate structure, is an example of how cyberactivism is an important democratic tool — in the real sense of the word — in this informational war we are experiencing.
The EterSec’s latest attack seemed to me a strong example of how the relationship between information and society seems increasingly relevant. It is so relevant that cyberactivists are persecuted as terrorists in several countries, just like Julian Assange was after WikiLeaks made public several illuminating — or rather, repulsive — information involving States and large corporations. We need a common-sense understanding that there is no secret that should not be revealed for the sake of society’s knowledge. Information has long ago ceased to be just a right, but rather a material object that is more than important in the dynamics of struggle for a real democracy. When this information is not given to us, it is our right to take it.