India’s Own Wikileaks: Legion
Chirag Thakkar | On 16, Dec 2016
Leaks and hacks have become a legitimate process by which truth becomes known to the people, thanks to WikiLeaks and the role it played in the US Presidential elections. Now, after a bunch of high profile Indians find their Twitter accounts hacked, we profile Legion, the group that claims to have done it.
With the global population exhibiting the least confidence in mainstream media in decades, lots of alternative media sources have begun to take the place of TV channels. And of all these media types, the ‘leak’ has taken central place. WikiLeaks is perhaps the most famous example of this, what with its important role in the recently concluded US General elections, when swathes of Hillary Clinton emails were leaked to the general public.
Now, India seems to have its own version of WikiLeaks. They call themselves ‘Legion’, and they’ve already wreaked some havoc by hacking into the Twitter accounts of Vijay Mallya, Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar.
In Vijay Mallya’s case, the group put out a tweet listing all his email accounts and passwords. In Barkha Dutt’s case, a ‘partial dump’ of 1.2 GB’s worth of emails have been leaked, and in an interview, a person claiming to be the ‘poster boy’ for the group has confirmed that there is a lot to dig in Barkha Dutt’s past that people will not like to see.
However, whatever little has come out of Legion has not been the ‘I take my job seriously’ tone of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’s founder. Interviews that have claimed to be from Legion feature transcripts of chat messages recorded on a secure server, so it is difficult to tell whether they’re who they claim to be.
For instance, they claim to have enough money to buy out ‘any corporation in the world’, they claim to be ‘lovers of LSD and other drugs’, they claim that they ‘don’t use Twitter’, and they make a list of outrageous claims that make it difficult for the discerning reader to take them seriously.
The tone of their conversation is also juvenile, immature and eager to please. While they say they’re located somewhere in Eastern Europe, the language they use is peculiarly ‘desi’, and it is almost certain that they’re of Indian origin. Because they speak only out of secure servers, their physical location can be anywhere.
It is perhaps fitting that a country that prides itself on shadow industries like hawala and black money gets its own hacking group that insists on staying in shadow, not like WikiLeaks that has its own official, verified Twitter page among other things.
While ‘Legion’ is bound to begin the debate on cyber security in India – especially with the push of the Digital India campaign – it has to go a long way before it can be taken seriously. Maybe after a few more high profile hacks and leaks of politicians, Bollywood stars with links to the mafia, and of journalists who are part of the state-press nexus, their standing will improve among people.
And yes, they also need to be more adult in their interviews and not come across as a bunch of juvenile teenagers out to have some fun. As they themselves admit in their interview, they might just need a ‘media groupie chick’.