Internet Law

'Anonymous' Claims Credit for DOJ, FBI Website Shutdowns, Retaliating for Megaupload Case


Responding to a U.S. Department of Justice announcement today of a major criminal case against operators of a website accused of pirating copyrighted material, the activist group of hackers known as Anonymous has claimed responsibility for subsequently interrupting service on the DOJ’s website and others.

The DOJ said the timing of its announcement wasn’t related to an unusual online lobbying effort this week by Wikipedia and other well-known Internet sites, concerning legislation being discussed in Congress to control online piracy. However, some opponents of the proposed laws quickly moved to retaliate for the prosecution of Megaupload.com, Reuters reports.

In addition to the DOJ, they targeted the world’s largest music company, Universal Music Group, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America for so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, according to Reuters and PC Magazine.

CNN is now reporting that the FBI website has apparently been knocked offline by the Anonymous “hacktivists,” too, as they had earlier threatened to do.

The New York Post says the U.S. Copyright Office site was also shut down and a site for the Utah Chiefs of Police had been hacked to display the Megaupload.com logo.

“The government takes down Megaupload? 15 minutes later Anonymous takes down government & record label sites,” says a tweet from the Twitter account of a group affiliated with Anonymous, the Post reported.

It isn’t clear, however, that all of the sites were either completely disabled or taken down for extensive periods of time; the RIAA and MPAA sites, for example, appeared to be operating normally through much of the evening.

An unidentified DOJ source told CNN that the agency’s server was “experiencing a significant increase in activity, resulting in a degradation in service.”

The source said the DOJ is working to get its site back to normal “while we investigate the origins of this activity, which is being treated as a malicious act until we can fully identify the root cause of the disruption.”

Reuters reports that the MPAA is working with law enforcement to identify the culprits and RIAA declined to comment. The news agency could not reach Universal Music for comment.

Additional coverage:

TechCrunch: “Anonymous Reacts to Megaupload Takedown With ‘Largest Attack Ever’ “

Techland (Time): “Anonymous Claims DOJ, RIAA, MPAA Sites Hit for Megaupload Bust”

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