back to article Scientology seeks to squash anonymity

A little local controversy involving the Church of Scientology and its critics could lead to curbs on the right to anonymity of anyone using the web. The argument is currently raging in Australia, following the launch last November by the Australian Human Rights Commission (HREOC) of a report entitled Freedom of Religion and …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right to offend

    The right to offend is more important than the right not to be offended.

    Frankly I agree with that. Anon for obvious reasons of common sense

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Problem ...

    If they recognized this stupid moneygrubbing, brainwashing cult/sect as religion then they've only got themselves to blame.

    Scientology is not a religion, it is a poorly-disguised attempt by its creator to get rich on a tax-exempt status.

    Posted Anonymous, for obvious and suitably fitting reasons :) (And I'd encourage everyone who also comments to do same)

  3. Oliver Mayes

    Are they a religion?

    Is Scientology classed as a religion in Australia? In France I believe it's recognised as a cult by the government, and Germany classes it as a business.

    They might want to souble check that if they seek to "make it illegal to incite hatred against religious groups"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    The boot is on the other foot...

    "The organisation claims that since January 2008, they have been subjected to a continuing campaign of violence and abuse from a hate group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’. It adds: "In the last 13 months they have also (ie as well as their internet based assaults) committed acts of harassment and criminal offences 'in real life' against the Church, its members and Church property.""

    Hmmm... so basically they're not happy to be treated in exactly the same way that they as an organisation have institutionaly treated both it's own 'members' and outsiders for years..?

    While I struggle to justify anon's tactic of 'playing by the same (non) rules' as Scientology, I can't help but feel a little inner satisfaction at Scientology getting a somewhat well deserved kicking.

  5. Dick Emery
    Stop

    Well there's the rub

    Is Scientology a cult or a religion?

    Prove it either way and you have your answer to the problem.

  6. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    FAIL

    Huh?

    "They are looking for the law to be tightened to make it illegal to incite hatred against religious groups: and they are also looking for government to strip away anonymity from anyone behind such activity online."

    Not a problem. Scientology isn't a religion, it's a business empire fronted by a cult. So all that has to happen is to accept this proviso, and everyone follows Germany in refusing to recognise Scientology as anything other than the scam* that it is, and we can all go on our merry little ways.

    Scientology=FAIL

    *I would normally use more forceful language on this subject, but I'm feeling incredibly mellow today...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    When will people learn...

    Scientology is not a religion. It's a crap sci-fi story with a larger money making franchise than the Star Wars has!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in time

    "They are looking for the law to be tightened to make it illegal to incite hatred against religious groups"

    This basically says "Say anything against a religion, and you're SOL", and if that'll be a law, well, it catapults Australia back to medieval times, back when heretics were burned, hung, or otherwise removed. "Nice times", eh?

    And no, scientology is anything but a religion. Never understand how they can be recognized as one...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's the problem...

    Scientology are neither a religion or a belief system; end of story. They are therefore not protected by anything and are not entitled to any.

    They do not have a deity that they beleive in, and nor do they offer any prayers to such. The "science" also stands up to no scrutiny whatsoever and is therefore invalid to be caleld a science.

    Scientology HAS no belief structure to protect. End of story.

  10. EdwardP
    Flame

    "They cite"

    "As evidence, it cites "bomb threats, arson threats..."

    Wow this shit never gets old.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Freakout

  11. Spleen

    Not the problem

    Scientology's status as a religion is not the problem here - the problem is the religious hate law itself. Scientology IS different from mainstream religions for various reasons, but one of the things it shares is a willingness to co-opt the law to suppress criticism of their lunatic beliefs, their perverse morality and their vile practices.

    If you go out and beat up a priest, or host a rally and shout "Death to Christians", you can already be arrested under secular laws. Religious hate laws should be shot down on sight, not because they're proposed by Scientologists, but because they're inherently inimical to human liberty. It's usually people that need to be protected from religion, not the other way around.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    How to get revenge

    Ring the cult from a payphone expressing an interest.

    Give contact details of the one who has wronged you.

    They will ring up your "friend" every day trying to make him/her join.

    No matter what response they receive they will carry on forever.

    This is because the poor suckers at the bottom of the pyramid have to rope in new blood to pay for their "courses" in enlightenment.

    Every day a new one will try cold calling any number on their database.

    My old boss used to get the calls, every day we told a new lie like "he's on the space shuttle" and yet they carried on ringing up.

    Enjoy non-violent retribution :) BOFH should be told!!

  13. Mike Cardwell

    Pointless

    One countries legislation about anonymity on the Internet is irrelevant. From a technical perspective, it is as good as impossible to prevent somebody who wants anonymity on the Internet, from having it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cult? Religion?

    What's the difference, really?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new...

    Scientology is not a religion, it's a scam based on fraud and lies, and interested in nothing but extracting money from the gullible. Proven beyond doubt again and again and again.

    So what part of that is it that so many people continually fail to grasp?

  16. P.Nutt
    Grenade

    I'm not aftaid of them.....

    <This post has been removed pending legal action by the church of scientology>

    Dang!!!!!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Churh of Wankerology

    Oh the poor loves. They spent all that time and effort brow beating the vulnerable out of their money, avoiding taxes and trying to persuade people that they're not just a self-serving cult. Together with their Fair Game Policy why are they surprised that no one likes them.

    What goes around comes around.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC Cult or religion?

    "What's the difference, really?"

    Make a mistake typing "cult" and your email will get caught in the filters?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Is that a misquote??

    "According to the Church of Scientology, these attacks have reached the point where some members have been physically threatened, and slanderous attacks have been made online"

    yes, we know what CoS were doing, but what were Anonymous up to?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward - Cult? Religion?

    "What's the difference, really?"

    Touche!

    I suppose I just defined religion there didn't I? Except I forgot to include social control.

    As Spleen said, it's people who need protecting from religion, not the other way around. But somehow people just never, never learn...

  21. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    They're kidding, right?

    "Due to Scientology's Fair Game policy....."

    ROFLMAO!

    I guess they've forgotten that for a game to be fair both sides should play by the rules, the rules shouldn't be a closely guarded secret held by one side and *neither* side should be allowed to use loaded dice.....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um...

    I again will point out the irony that they pretty much lay down their own acknowledged tactics as terrible things that they have to put up with...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Crazy CoS, stoopid Aussie goverment

    I myself have been on the receiving end of the CoS' "fair game" policy due to some obvious JOKES I posted at the CoS' expense in the CoS usenet group. It involved a CoS-hired PI pretending to be a law enforcement officer getting my university (at the time) to provide my personal information (home address, phone number, even SSN!) to this PI and it involved a visit from the campus police and the threat of FBI involvement.

    In the end I won because I was able to pinpoint and identify the source of the attack as a PI rather than a law enforcement officer (he claimed to be working as a member of a Joint Terror Task Force) and got the FBI to question HIM because of his falsely identifying himself as law enforcement.

    Long story short, I INSIST on anonymity now. I have the absolute right to criticize the criminal syndicate that is the CoS AND to do so anonymously, and thus protected from their bizarre and illegal actions in the name of their "fair game" policy. You can have my anonymity when you pry it from my cold, dead, fingers (on my keyboard).

  24. Paul Hates Handles
    WTF?

    They're a CULT and not a religion

    And, as can be witnessed by how they harass and try and sneak themselves in everywhere, they're a social organisation and not a religion.

    Either that or they believe in the sci-fi blatherings of L Ron Hubbard (who started the religion to make money) and they're fucking nuts.

    They're free to be nuts. Just like we're free to call them nuts.

    But people will need their anonymity as long as scientology has the power and the money to hunt their detractors down and ruin their lives.

  25. Pat 11

    Is it possible to be anonymous?

    Could a governement actually legislate for this? If someone wanted to post anonymously in such a way that no amount of subpoenas could get to their identity, could they do so? If so how? It may be technically possible, but if it were very difficult, the impact of such legislation could be far reaching.

  26. Scott 19
    Pint

    Money Maker

    Hey its my idea so i want 50% of the profits but could some clever person make a hand held law machine, you simply enter information of what activaty you ar about to do and it tells you the

    law and what sentances you will get for breaking the law ie:

    Animal sex: - making love to an Animal, band from keeping the and a fine.

    - Watching animal love with humans, locked up in jail and a criminal record

    Photography - must be under 6 feet in Kent or may get arrested by offices shorter than 5 feet.

    - must not take pictures of police officers, especially if in uniform and breaking the law.

    You get teh idea, well i think its a money maker.

  27. James O'Brien

    @Problem ...

    Why post anon about these morons? Im not scared.

  28. Dave Bell

    Anonymous?

    Way back in the dark ages of the internet, there was anon.penet.fi, which allowed a person to be anonymous, but traceable. It was believed that the secrecy of the link between anonymous account and real user was protected by Finnish law. but if you could convince a court in Finland that you had sufficient reason to know the link--perhaps a criminal investigation--you could get the info.

    Was it the Scientologists who wrecked that, or somebody else? I don't recall, but somebody out-lawyered the site operatorand seemed to blow away the protection. The place shut down, and now there are all sorts of different ways of being anonymous, all designed to make it hard for anyone to discover who is who.

    These days, I'd wonder which intelligence service was behind such a scheme. Who do you trust with your secrets? But almost all the supposed problems of anonymity could be countered by a controlled capacity to trace the links.

  29. Richard 120
    Alien

    Hatred

    Hmmm, nobody has incited me to hate religious (or cultist) morons other than religious/cultist morons themselves, does that mean I can bring a civil suit against them?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Re: Back in time

    "it catapults Australia back to medieval times"

    Just considering what Australia must have been like back in medieval times and how you put everything back the way it was...

    "OK, convicts: everybody get back on the boat!"

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    IQ test

    Scientology is to religion as

    Microsoft is to operating systems

    IT link

  32. david wilson

    @Michelle Knight

    >>"Scientology HAS no belief structure to protect. End of story."

    Well, it might argue that it has some copyrighted bollocks that's supposedly too dangerous to explain to anyone not yet suitably brainwashed*.

    It's debatable whether any of the people in charge of the business are actually daft or nutty enough to believe in the bollocks, or whether they just pretend to believe for reasons of personal profit and power.

    However, to be fair, it's also debatable whether that criticism might not apply to *some* extent to some people running 'real' religions as well.

    (*for fear that they might die laughing)

  33. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    @Is that a misquote??

    Damn you, Sir, I wanted to post that one...! ;-)

  34. Rod MacLean
    Welcome

    L Ron Hubbard

    I have frequently heard the tale that L Ron had a bet with a fellow Sci-Fi author that he could create a wacky sci-fi tale that people would believe in so strongly that they would hand money over to him for more tales.

    The story goes that when the other author heard about the CoS, he immediately contacted L Ron to cough up the cash. L Ron then claimed ignorance of the bet and refused the cash. (Probably because the CoS was far more lucrative than the piddling amount he would get for winning the bet).

    The whole thing isn't just based upon an obvious lie, it's interwoven with such skulduggery that no-one in their right mind would want to join. Which is why they now brainwash you first...

    I for one welcome the actions of Anonymous and hope that they keep them up until the day that the last Scientologist shuffles his mortal coil and goes to join Xenu in a volcano (or whatever).

  35. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    Religious Hate

    Personally I'd just ban complaining, far simpler and much fairer.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    The problem with "anonymous bomb threats,etc"

    Is that it's rule #1 in "revolutionary" circles to create those "attacks" yourself in order to paint yourself as a victim. it would not surprise anyone if Scientology were doing this to create a pretext for their complaint. This is basically the flip side of the "agent provocateur" coin.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Oliver Mayes

    And in Canada, Scientology was held by the courts to be a single cohesive entity, notwithstanding its use of multiple shell corporations to pretend otherwise, and that this single cohesive entity is a CRIMINALLY CONVICTED ORGANIZATION.

    The Scienos do their best to ignore this in the hopes that others will too.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Hatred is allowed

    Why can I not hate religious groups? Thought-crime does not exist yet (Should not anyway!), as long as I do not discriminate or threaten or hurt people I am free to hate all I like. I should by extension be able to incite hatred as long as I do not incite acts of hatred... I'm fairly irreligious but on the whole am too lazy to hate Scientologists, but I should be able to if I want to.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    @John 186

    "Scientology is not a religion, it's a scam based on fraud and lies, and interested in nothing but extracting money from the gullible. Proven beyond doubt again and again and again.

    So what part of that is it that so many people continually fail to grasp?"

    What you really meant to say was:

    "Scientology is like any other religion, it's a scam based on fraud and lies, and interested in nothing but extracting money from the gullible. Proven beyond doubt again and again and again.

    So what part of that is it that so many people continually fail to grasp?"

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freedem *from* religion and beliefs in the 21st century

    Why can't all religions be sent back to the middle ages?

  41. Lupus
    Grenade

    @TeeCee

    I'm not sure you quite grasp what they mean by Fair Game. Don't think tabletop, think Safari.

  42. AnonymousNow
    Stop

    One step closer to tyranny

    According to the COS, "attacks have reached the point where some members have been physically threatened."

    Of course, physically threatening someone with violence is already against the law. Thus, the COS's position is nonesense. What they are clearly concerned about are the truthful news reports coming from the St. Petersburg Times that inform that the COS is run like Goodfellows, with regular barbaric beatins of staff members by the leader, David Miscavige. They know that Anonymous will propogate this information, and similar information, even when the Australian press is too afraid to.

    Thus, this is simply an attempt at censorship in its purest form-- an attempt by the powerful to silence its truthful critics. We will see whether the Australian government will take one large step closer to tyranny or whether they will reinforce basic freedoms.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Religious Freedom

    Religious freedom isn't a one-way street. The freedom to follow a religion must also be the freedom to reject it. The freedom to promote a religion (evangelism, for example,) must also be the freedom to publicly oppose it. The freedom to seek to win converts must also be the freedom to seek to win perverts (as in the opposite of converts - but am I using that word correctly?). The freedom to preach that unbelievers are evil sinners who will burn in hell must also be the freedom to preach that a particular religion is an evil, dangerous cancer that enslaves people and destroys their lives.

    When Nick Griffin expressed the view that Islam is a "vicious, wicked faith", he himself was exercising religious freedom. And I'm exercising a similar kind of freedom when I express my view that Nick Griffin and the BNP are some of the most despicable scum of the earth.

    Anyway, why bother with all these special case laws? Laws against racial hatred, homophobic hatred, sex discrimination, religious hatred... Why not, you know, generalise, treat everyone equally, and have blanket laws to cover all these cases and more? Why not, you know, make use of the laws we already had anyway?

    Perhaps Anonymous will "get religion", and style itself as a pseudo-religious cult styling itself as a religion. That would be most fitting!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Comment

    Scientology isn't a religion, it's a religion.

  45. Kit-Fox
    Grenade

    and remember kids

    I'm not racist/xenophobic/religious biased/'please fill in your PC word of choice here'

    I hate everyone equally

    :P

  46. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Bomb threats?

    Would these be the same threats that the FBI publicly stated never happened then?

    Assaults? So far as I'm aware, not a single Scientologist has been assaulted by a member of Anonymous. The reverse however, is not true - Youtube has some wonderful footage of "the most ethical people on earth" attacking protesters in broad daylight.

    Fail, because Scientology is full of it.

  47. Jack_Paulson

    Rudd and Conroy are anti-Democracy

    It's not even about porn. Wikileaks was one of the sites on the blacklist, as well as a bunch of political ones. They're only using "protect our children" as rational for eventually having China-level censorship of political and subversive websites. This was never even about porn. If it was, it wouldn't have gone past giving the public a voluntarilly downloaded filter, as opposed to a mandatory nationwide censorship campaign. It's fundamentally anti-democratic to the core.

    Tyranny will not listen to the public or reason, and Anonymous has my full support.

  48. Big-nosed Pengie
    Alien

    @AC 14:28

    "Scientology is to religion as Microsoft is to operating systems".

    +1

  49. Adrian Esdaile
    FAIL

    We don't need no steekin' catapults

    " it catapults Australia back to medieval times"

    We're quite capable of getting there all by ourselves, thanks very much.

    If you really want to use one, a table-top Lego trebuchet would be all you'd need, I think we're back to about 1504 already.

    Australia - the worlds first true Idiocracy - Making America/UK/China Look Smart!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    @Kit-Fox

    ....Xenu-phobic ?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    On for the love of no gods at all....

    .. Just get to it and outlaw all religion and cults and be done with the stupidity. No reasonable sane human (both of them) could really believe in any deity of any kind. its bollocks that used to have a purpose in making people behave civilised. Those days are over. Ban religion its outdated and very very dangerous.

    (Ano because it dosen´t matter who the fuck I am)

  52. elderlybloke
    Big Brother

    In Iran and Saudi Arabia

    and a few other places , it would not be good for your health to tell the local religious zealots that you believe religion is bollocks.

    Peace be with you , with or without religion .

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meh for oz

    It's time for CLAMBAKE!

  54. Winkypop Silver badge
    Stop

    Scientology, spelt

    C.U.L.T

    Nasty people

    Nasty scam

    Nasty evil bastards all

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Hey im a scientologist !!!

    dont know what your all making a fuss about !!!

  56. WolfyRik

    Threats? Evidence?

    "The organisation claims that since January 2008, they have been subjected to a continuing campaign of violence and abuse from a hate group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’. It adds: "In the last 13 months they have also (ie as well as their internet based assaults) committed acts of harassment and criminal offences 'in real life' against the Church, its members and Church property.""

    The organisation claims many things, they've yet to prove ANY of them. The last time the so called "church" tried to provide evidence that Anons had made threats they did it in the form of a dvd of a video allegedly posted by Anonymous on youtube which contained bomb threats. There was just one problem for scientology; the dvd was of better quality and higher resolution than the video which was posted and as anyone who thinks about it for a moment can understand, they only way they could have a high quality film, was if they had the master copy.

    Scientology's own DVD proved that they were the ones making bomb threats in a desperate attempt to make peaceful protesters look bad.

    the "church" of scientology is deceitful and hates free-speech. These aren't the people ANYONE should want to see making laws.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comment

    Its funny I was listening to a copper on the news about the London protests describe Anonymous as the nicest bunch of protesters he ever met, he even said they brought their own sandwiches.

    Not exactly hardcore terrorists.

  58. Xpositor

    Don't Single Out Scientology - Abrahamic Faiths

    All of the Abrahamic faiths have great similarities with Scientology. Based upon a story that an individual came up with, containing quite unbelievable tales, all require money from their devotees (in CofE parlance its called a 'tithe'). None of them like being criticised, and all - really - believe other 'religions' are false. Note that you don't have to believe in an ultimate deity to be a religion (e.g. Buddhism).

    Amongst all of their variances however, they do all have one big thing in common - they are all a load of made-up make-believe cobblers.

  59. anonymous987
    FAIL

    Bomb threats? Arson threats? Might as well be anthrax threats.. oh wait.

    Scientology claimed they got anthrax in the mail as well from anonymous... Most of these threats they "received" were conjured up by Scientology themselves, the FBI cleared this up even.

    Now, the only REAL thing backing up the attacks is one person who DDoS'd a scientology website back in early 2008. But guess who created DDoSing? Scientology!

    Yep, Scientology created DDoSing back in the early 90s to destroy newsgroups and other early forms of information gathering because people were discussing Scientology and their "copyrighted" works.

    What church copyrights ANY works? Huh? None.

    Only businesses do.

    What Scientology is trying to do is to track down these members who post against them and harass them with the same threats they "claimed" to receive themselves. Maybe not send bombs or burn a house, but pets have ended up poisoned as well as a few actual people having been killed under "mysterious circumstances".

    Scientology still follows their "fair game policy", which they've used against a U.S. reporter in the 70s, probably the most famous case. Just google "operation freakout".

    You'll probably see more cases like "Operation Freakout" if anonymity goes away.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    LOL scientology

    "bomb threats" "harrassment" you know what this sounds like? Sounds like the same bull that they tried to pull on Paulette Cooper, author of a book critical of Scientology, during Operation Freakout which was committed by the then Guardian's Office ( now known as Office of Special Affairs) in which they tried to use her stationary to forge bomb threats against the "church" all with the intended purpose of either having her incarcerated or put into a mental facility. This was discovered around the same time as Operation Snow White was discovered ( the operation intended to infiltrate departments of the US government in order to seek and destroy documents critical of Scientology) by the FBI. Many high ranking scientologists were arrested and imprisoned including L Ron Hubbard's then wife Mary.

    So I ask you, who is the REAL threat? An internet protest group who have been actually proven NOT to have even sent bomb threats and the like or a malignant and greedy cult who has been proven in the past to do anything and everything to subdue any critical thought against the cult?

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