Calls for peaceful protests from volunteers, including wearing the iconic Guy Fawkes masks

A day before its proposed street protests in 18 cities nationwide protesting “Internet censorship,” Anonymous India, the local group pledging allegiance to the infamous international network of hackers, held hectic parleys online to garner support.

Through the day, several volunteers pledged support on Facebook pages set up by the group for its ‘OpIndia' protests. The admins of the group also tweeted through the day through two prominent twitter handles — @op_indiarevenge and @anonDDoS — announcing last-minute change of plans with respect to venues and exhorted the volunteers to try and live stream the event through their mobile devices and pledge support ahead of the protests by posting photos of themselves wearing the iconic Guy Fawkes masks.

Anonymous was also forthcoming in interacting with media persons through an internet relay chat on its official blog — opindia.posterous.com. During the course of a chat earlier on Friday with this correspondent, Anonymous India members dismissed the possibility that authorities might identify the protesters who turn up on Saturday to be the hackers who launch the DDoS (Distributed denial of Service) attacks that bring down websites. “To be honest, there have been very few who have actually done a security breach,” one of the members said. (A pre-condition was laid out for the interview that the aliases should not be exposed while reporting.)

The hackers who participate in DDoS usually coordinate their attacks on target websites by running denial of service (DoS) applications simultaneously across several computers. “We never make people attack without their consent. We know how to cover our tracks.”

There was also a brief moment during the chat when one of the Anonymous members said: “Since DDoSing is not a crime nor a hack many people who are going will be safe.” However, another admin pointed out that it was in fact a cyber crime under the amendments to the I.T. Act of India (2008).

Apart from several youngsters signing up for protests, the Free Software Movement of India (www.fsmi.in) has pledged its support. Alagunambi Welkin, an executive committee member of Free Software Foundation (Tamil Nadu), who has pledged to participate in the protest on the Elliots Beach in Chennai on Saturday evening, said the support was purely issue-based and he, like most others in his group, had difference of opinion over the methods used by Anonymous.

“We are here to fight for the democracy of the Web. The freedom to share is a very critical component. But we don't believe in having to hide our identity for that. We are also against bringing down websites as a form of protest.”

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