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A peek behind the mask: Anonymous' 'Topiary' speaks

The Guardian interviewed a former spokesman for the hacktivist group Anonymous. As he awaits a possible lengthy jail sentence, the teenager tells other members to try unplugging for a while.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

The mask has come off on at least one member of Anonymous.

The has published a lengthy profile of the group and Jake Davis, a Scottish teenager who used the handle "Topiary" and acted as one of Anonymous' spokesmen before he was arrested in July 2011.

The profile offers readers little that we didn't already know about the group, although the author does give us some nice glimpses of a few prominent members of Anonymous and the well-known splinter group LulzSec.

Davis is almost exactly the sort of person many critics of the group expected him to be. He's described as a smart, skinny, "furtive, greasy-haired" 19-year-old without much of an offline life. Anonymous or groups related to it grew infamous for launching cyber attacks on the computer systems of the CIA, Visa and Sony Pictures. They have used their hacking skills in support of people in the Middle East who were trying to overthrow dictatorships.

Davis was on the sidelines for some of the group's most recent escapades. After his arrest a year ago, he pleaded guilty to computer crimes and was banned from using the Web. He still faces the possibility of spending years in jail in Britain as well as the United States, where he could be extradited. According to the Guardian story, he was one of the people caught after one prominent Anonymous member, an American known online as Sabu, was arrested and began turning in other members.

Davis wrote a first-person companion piece to the Guardian's main story and in it he says he's now glad for the opportunity to start a new life away from his computer.

He said he welcomes

... the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens.... Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished.

Do check out the story and the companion piece. They're worth your time.