Chernobyl HeartSo who is Anonymous? They've been called criminals, "hackers on steroids" and even terrorists. But the vast majority of those who identify as Anonymous don't break the law.

They see themselves as activists and protectors of free speech, and tend to rise up most powerfully when they perceive a threat to internet freedom or personal privacy. Whether you are a soccer mom or a member of Congress, you live in an electronic landscape that has exploded with largely unchecked intrusion and surveillance.

You are tracked by government databases while corporate advertisers are looking to buy your personal data for pennies. In this landscape, the existence of the collective internet culture called Anonymous makes the case for anonymity.

Using tools of disruption and spectacle, they have also become the face of dissent for a variety of human rights and information freedom groups around the globe.

They are a legion of loud but largely masked geeks, hackers, pranksters and outraged citizens who have unwittingly redefined civil disobedience for the digital age, and found themselves in the middle of one of the most important battles of our time.

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