Anonymous Shuts Down FBI Site Following Arrest of MegaUpload Founders

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.

Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload

Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload

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”.

Hacktivist group Anonymous symbol, a Guy Fawkes mask and pirate swords

Hacktivist group Anonymous displays their symbol on their Twitter and Tumblr pages: a Guy Fawkes mask and pirate swords

 

Pending anti-piracy bills stir debate and protests

Written by: Shauna Bannan

Protesters holding signs to oppose SOPA and PIPA

Protesters fled to the streets of Manhattan to show their support against the SOPA and PIPA bills.

Proposed anti-piracy laws SOPA and PIPA have yielded protests and debate among Internet activists and the media industry as the House and Senate move closer to a decision.

Thousands of Internet sites and activists have recently come together to oppose two anti-piracy bills. The two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), would strengthen protection against copyright infringement by restricting access to foreign sites that enable the trading of pirated content.

There has been quite a fuss over the bills from content groups, media companies and business representatives, who argue that growing Internet piracy is threatening content-creating industries, and Internet advocates who contend that the bills would stifle innovation and censor free information.

Tech companies, like Wikipedia and Reddit, launched a “blackout” on their sites to protest against the bills.

Wikipedia’s English-language site displayed a message to viewers that read: “Imagine a world without free knowledge…The US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

Viewers were redirected to the protest page just moments after their intended searches were displayed. The page also provided  links to SOPA and PIPA, specifying additional information on the proposed bills, and a link that would help visitors reach their member of Congress to oppose the bills.

BoingBoing, Mozilla and TwitPic also participated in the protest, while Facebook and Twitter opposed the legislation but did not participate in the blackout.

Google’s logo remained hidden behind a black rectangle, linking to a petition that drew more than seven million signatures opposing the bills.

“It’s still something we’re trying to comprehend,” Google spokeswoman Samantha Smith said. “We had such an overwhelming response to our petition that it honestly far exceeded our expectations.”

Congress has halted the debate on the two bills, postponing the vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) that was originally scheduled for Jan. 24. Much of the decision was based on the recent events that were by Internet activists.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” said Lamar Smith, House Judiciary Committee Chairman. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”