Written by: Alexandra Paskulin
In response to the Jan. 19 arrests of Megaupload founders in New Zealand, major US websites are shutdown by hacktivist group Anonymous in protest of anti-piracy laws.
Following the mass protest of SOPA/PIPA legislation by prominent websites including Wikipedia, Google and Craigslist, the widely used file-sharing site Megaupload was shut down by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. The founders of Megaupload (and associated sites Megavideo, Megapix, Megalive, Megabox and Megaporn), Kim Dotcom (aka Kim Schmitz), Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann of German citizenship and Bram van der Kolk of Dutch citizenship were arrested in Auckland by New Zealand authorities executing provisional arrest warrants by the US. A US Department of Justice statement, released on the same day as the arrests, declared the action against the “Mega conspiracy” to be “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the Unites States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.” The Megaupload site now bears the following notice informing visitors that Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann, van der Kolk and three others have been charged with criminal copyright infringement.
Following the federal seizure of Megaupload and arrest of its founders, several US government and major music and film industry websites went down. The affected sites include FBI, DOJ, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of American. Some of the broken sites were down for hours. Responsibility for the attacks was taken by hacktivist group Anonymous on their Twitter feed. In the early afternoon of January 2012, @YourAnonNews posted “The government takes down #Megaupload? 15 minutes later #Anonymous takes down government & record label sites. #ExpectUs.” Anonymous is a long-standing opponent of anti-piracy legislation and were active in opposing SOPA and PIPA earlier in the week. @YourAnonNews called the attacks on prominent government and industry sites “The Largest Attack Ever by Anonymous – 5,635 People Confirmed Using #LOIC to Bring Down Sites!” The LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) is an open source application that allows multiple individuals to launch a distributed denial of service attack, flooding and crippling the targeted system.
The debate over anti-piracy legislation and Internet censorship is unlikely to end soon. Anonymous and other supporters of the free Internet will continue to face challenges from politicians and lobbyists who persist in threatening the freedom of information. Further attacks in protest of anti-piracy and censorship are imminent. As Anonymous operative Barrett Brown told RT.com, “more is coming”.