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SOPA Blackout, Anonymous-Style: FBI, DOJ Sites Downed In Megaupload Protest

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A day after the SOPA protest on the web, the hacker group Anonymous has taken the blackout theme to a whole new level: in retaliation for the closure of the Megaupload file-sharing site, and for its own SOPA protest, the group has started to systematically take down a number of websites for groups connected to the Megaupload case, including government bodies.

Update: We’ve also published a new story with further developments here. [To read about how events unfolded last night, continue reading below…]

Using distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, the hackers have gone after the Department of Justice’s site, the RIAA, the MPAA and the major record labels — so far Universal, BMI and Warner Music Group have been affected.

At the moment, the hackers are updating a Twitter feed with news of developments of the attack, which it is code-naming #OpMegaupload. It also appears that it is also going after related sites outside of the U.S. as well.

A series of messages posted on Anonymous’ Twitter feed, have detailed the group’s trail of destruction across the internet.

They are covering not just U.S. sites but also extending their work to similar organizations in Europe, such as, which is now also down.

Hadopi is the French law that was introduced in 2009 and is used to regulate internet access and copyright violations in France. This controversial bill basically outlines a three-strikes procedure for suspending internet access for those who download illegal content. There are legislators now considering how to apply this to streamed services as well, which are currently not covered.

Taking down government sites like the DOJ’s and potentially the FBI’s — the Anonymous Twitter feed has mentioned it is working on the latter, although at the time of writing the FBI’s site is still up — could mean the group would be subject not just to felony charges but also potentially terrorist violations.

Update: is now down, too.

Cases involving the prosecution of Anonymous hackers are still being played out, so it’s not clear what route authorities may take over this current spate of attacks: hackers that were identified as part of Anonymous are currently being prosecuted in California for allegedly hacking PayPal when the Ebay-owned payments provider halted payments to Wikileaks. Defendants in that case pleaded not guilty in November 2011.

This case could be considerably more difficult to track for authorities: Anonymous says that there are 5,635 people confirmed to be working towards taking down sites.

A DDoS attack can mean several things, but one of the most common is when a person or network of people “attack” a site or server with a flood of communications requests, so that the target cannot respond to normal requests.

Adrian Chen at Gawker further describes how those DDoS attacks are getting amplified using viral techniques: hackers are at the moment spamming out links that effectively rope innocent users into also taking part in the attacks, by clicking on the links to automatically start pinging one of the sites on the target list.

Many of the sites listed above are simply leading to blank pages now, or “down for maintenance” pages, but one site, for the Utah police association, which might have less administrators than those of the DOJ, has been hacked with a message from the hackers about Megaupload:

The MPAA, meanwhile, has taken to posting Twitpics of its statements — for the moment, it has no website to use to post them, and a Twitpic can’t get hacked. “Our website and many others…were attacked today,” begins the 150-word statement. It also says it is working with law enforcement agencies to identify those responsible, and that “Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand.”

Update 2: Several of these sites are back up and running, but so is Anonymous’ own effort, with some 9,000 users participating in its site take-down. Read about other developments in this separate post.

9 Responses to “SOPA Blackout, Anonymous-Style: FBI, DOJ Sites Downed In Megaupload Protest”

  1. believe in the truth

    Probably another government scam to use reverse psychology on naive citizens.  Whether they are working for the government or for the people.  Government always end up getting their way, by twisting, coercing, or damn right bullying.  We will see.  Only God can render justice.  True freedom is peace at heart.  Only God can grant that. 

  2. Really interesting to see a group of hackers that pose themselves as activists out for the “good of the people”, now initiating attacks for the good of a highly profitable corporate interest, MegaUpload.

    • MegaUpload corporate vs. RIAA and MPAA? Mega didn’t do anything that a lot of other file hosts do – except challenge RIAA and MPAA in court over illegal DCMA takedown’s of video’s they made (ads) for a new distribution system for legal independent content – and happen to get a handful of their signed musicians to star in them.

      There’s a complicated history behind some of this. The above case is still in court. News headlines are taken from trade industries press releases. There is no such marketing or lobbying for file host’s (i.e. what you called “corporate interests” via what Dodd called them).

  3. Hope people understand this
    is only going to make lawmakers push for SOPA and PIPA even more. You
    don’t think its fishy that the Feds shut down Megauploads right after
    the Blackouts and now anonymous virtually attacks DOJ and RIAA? Its a
    false flag and its only harming our cause.

    • If anything I think these attacks are going to raise awareness that the industry and the U.S. government doesn’t need SOPA/PIPA at all to do what they need to do. They are extradicting non-U.S. citizens to the U.S. to stand trial for crimianal charges against U.S. laws. This happened to a British citizen earlier this month because his website showed LINKS to other websites offerring illegal content which is not a crime in the U.K.

      So now we have “guilty until proven innocent”, no process first, and the U.S. gets to make and ENFORCE (at taxpayer expense) laws for the whole world … 

      And “they” don’t think that’s enough power and want it strengthened. 

      I find this deeply disturbing. I also find the comments about the protests, millions of signatures, the fact that anyone who knows anything about the internet is against any form of these bills returning – not just a rewrite. 

      The hearings had no “nerds” (as Congress calls internet experts) and this bill was written behind closed doors with no public debate. What’s new? Most of those in Congress hire people to do their tweets. They are absolutley clueless, freely admit it and then want to restructure it according to trade industries wet dreams come true – and these trade industries have a pitiful record of being able to police themselves, tell the truth, extortion, and basically not being much better than legalized Al Capone’s.

      People pay $300-$600 for mp3 players and phones so the issue is not money. The issue is content and they want to own ALL of it. No public or independent creations, no fair use, no public domain. The record labels killed commercial radio with their “pay to play” and they want the same for the internet. They DO claim all copyrights for all music even though > 50% sold is independent. 

      They have had 10 years to get with digital and haven’t. Then they produce wannabe copycat productions and expect the public to buy in. When 30% or more of the population taking part in sampling content online, when does it become a form of civil disobedence?