Yesterday was a very big day for WikiLeaks. It just released 500 million internal documents stolen from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, allegedly obtained by hacktivist collective Anonymous in December. This is huge; it’s the first time Anonymous has ever cooperated with an aboveground entity, lending an unprecedented amount of political legitimacy to the often inscrutable group. But why? What do these strange bedfellows have to gain from collaboration? With this new collaboration, Anonymous has obtained new credibility, and WikiLeaks has obtained a hugely valuable new source. This potentially powerful alliance could point to the future of the leak economy, and this awkward symbiosis provides each party with exactly what they need to move forward. A new age of transparency activism may have just begun.
In the past, Julian Assange and other spokespeople at WikiLeaks have subtly distanced themselves from Anonymous as though it were an annoying little brother. WikiLeaks at least tries to operate within various global laws and seems to want nothing to do with a brand of hacktivism that’s also responsible for flooding Facebook with violent hardcore pornography, among other unsavory activities.