A US Government-led operation, carried out on several continents against the ‘Sparks Conspiracy‘, listed three individuals from the UK, US and Norway as the main targets of a massive investigation. What took place on the ground, however, ended up being something much, much bigger.
While SPARKS and related groups GECKOS, DRONES, ROVERS and SPRINTER were placed front and center, operations like this don’t and can’t operate in a vacuum. These groups were part of an organic network built up over years and, as such, their activities and members touched huge numbers of disparate yet interconnected individuals involved in the piracy world overall, not just ‘The Scene’ itself.
One of the interesting things about The Scene is that over almost two decades, it has gained almost mythical status as an almost impossible-to-penetrate ‘place’ where only the most elite of pirates hang out. As a result, many people aspire to become a ‘member’ one day, hoping to bathe in the collective mystery, kudos and notoriety.
What the unfolding events of the past two weeks have shown, however, is that The Scene is already much closer to regular pirates than most people might think, touching and even intermingling at some level with private and public torrent sites, streaming platforms, and similar services.
For two weeks insiders have been happy to talk, presenting facts, ideas, theories and suggestions on what happened behind the headlines and who might have been involved or even responsible. Unfortunately, it’s not always information that makes for comfortable reading.
More than once since the massive raids, names of particular Scene members and groups sucked into the investigation have been repeatedly mentioned by various sources. Who these people are in ‘real-life’ is a mystery but, over the years, pictures of what they might be like, largely based on their activities, are subconsciously formed by observers.
Then, due to the ensuing chaos, it suddenly becomes apparent that not only is Group A the same as Group B and Group C, but also Person X, who people thought they knew under a very specific identity, is also Person Y and Person Z, all of whom have different and sometimes even conflicting online traits and personas.
One of the problems (and there are many) is that Groups A to C and Persons X to Z all have their ‘own’ connections, trusted and valued by some but untrusted and even despised by others. In reality, it now transpires, they could all be inextricably linked via shared contacts, with many of those involved oblivious to what they’ve become part of.
Add into the mix that Persons D and E, who may or may not have been previously arrested according to rumor, are very connected with many of the contacts of the individuals and groups listed above and way beyond. At this point, it’s very easy to visualize an extremely large network of people that might be just one step away from being arrested themselves having been completely compromised.
If that’s not enough stress, someone then blurts out that a person who may have been previously and for years viewed as the mild-mannered janitor from the 70s cartoon Hong Kong Phooey, is now rumored to be the martial arts hound himself, undermining all previous perceptions and throwing all of the mental connections formed around them into chaos.
Of course, many experienced members will be shouting that they knew all of this already but from the communications received from those further down the chain, echoes of “No, I didn’t know that,” and “Really? Shit…” shows that many people simply aren’t in the loop. And if everyone had been completely in the loop, lots of people wouldn’t have arrested recently.
The admittedly-labored point is this: if people really must obtain all the latest movies and TV shows for free, doing it quietly via torrent sites etc seems much, much less stressful than getting tightly involved in The Scene or anyone close to it. Indeed, The Scene seems more of a complex lifestyle choice than a hobby for many participants, but one that could implode at any second.
Action, adventure, and mystery probably sound like an exciting prospect to some but after reading dozens of emails and tip-offs plus pages of Scene chats containing accusations and potential bombshells (not to mention concern and speculation about who is who and what they might have said to whom), the term “mental exhaustion” springs to mind.
You can laugh while fetching my cocoa and pipe if you like but at this time of life, when relaxing and quiet time is at a premium, too much involvement in The Scene sounds like an utterly exhausting not to mention precarious way to spend one’s time.
There again, some people like freefall skydiving and exploring pitch-black caves filled with muddy brown water. So, Godspeed to the intrepid and brave, just mind who packed your parachute and topped-up your oxygen bottle. Tonight, I’m watching Netflix instead. I’m fairly sure it won’t end too badly.