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The latest target for hacker collective Anonymous is a group of institutions accused of medicating and brainwashing teens with behavioral issues.
The troubled-teen industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year in everything from Ritalin to rehab. Anonymous, a troubled adolescent of an organization if ever there was one, has decided to take up arms against this for-profit behemoth, targeting money-first-children-second institutions in what they call #OpTTIabuse.
As the Daily Dot has previously reported, Anonymous has been very involved in supporting kids through efforts like OpLiberation, the long-running operation opposing child abuse in schools and homes. OpTTIabuse falls under the general umbrella of OpLiberation, although it has attracted some new supporters. AmeriSec, an initiative to remake and improve the United States (without breaking any current U.S. laws) has taken the lead on this specific operation.
“Standard TTI practices could make the devil weep. Abuse and brainwashing are used to control and torture clients until they turn 18 or break, whichever comes first,” claims the declaration from AmeriSec. The motivation? To wring as much money out of the parents or the taxpayers as possible, allegedly by keeping healthy children in the system and mistreating them.
According to the document released on Pastebin, the operation has three phases.
Phase One consists of a Tweetstorm at 9pm, apparently nightly from the initial blast on February 6. The Tweetstorm “will continue until this issue has trended in the United States, and with time, Worldwide,” claims the document, but in reality the Tweetstorm lasted several hours on the evening of the 6th and didn’t succeed in trending nationally. On the 7th, it was shunted aside by news of Christopher Dorner, an ex-police officer accused of shooting three people.
Phase Two is the old “write to your elected officials” ploy, with a specific demand for federal oversight of the industry. “Thanks to corporate clout and legal loopholes, state laws are often weak and unenforced. There is no federal oversight.”
Phase Three, undated, will be in-person demonstrations outside the institutions of the troubled teen industry.
Specifically named are Copper Canyon Academy, a girls’ boarding school for “out of control” or “struggling” teens which has a shadow site, CCA Survivors; Aspen Education Group, a full-service troubled teen organization whose SageWalk Wilderness School branch came under fire after two student deaths; and CRC Health Group (owned by Bain Capital), which describes itself as “the nation’s leading provider of treatment and educational programs for adults and youth who are struggling with behavioral issues, chemical dependency, eating disorders, obesity, pain management, or learning disabilities,” and whose fatal problems were revealed in a Salon article called “The Dark Side of a Bain Success.”
The Pastebin document is clear that other institutions and organizations may be targeted in the future, as well as individuals who support the industry.
It concludes with links to Reddit’s subreddit for troubled teens and the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth. CAFETY’s Facebook page describes it as “a member-driven advocacy organization, led by those with direct experience in residential care as youth and our allies.” It is not without controversy, however, having allegedly distributed a letter falsely accusing the Family Foundation School of being under federal investigation, and its focus on youth rights is considered by some to come at the expense of a focus on the protection of youths.
Anonymous Operations benefit tremendously by time-limited, specific goals like “get Aishah out of Egypt,” and with OpTTIabuse’s more nebulous approach, the impact on both public consciousness and the institutions themselves might be blunted to the point of ineffectiveness. As well, in youth advocacy cases, protecting the identities of the teens is always a priority, and the public prefers to put a face to a movement.
Photo via Martiniak15/Flickr
Lorraine Murphy is an Ottawa-based cybersecurity journalist and founding editor of the Cryptosphere. She has a keen interest in WikiLeaks and web culture, and her bylines have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, Serious Eats, and elsewhere.