Last week, the federal government shut down the file-sharing website MegaUpload. During this shut down, they arrested several high-ranking executives of the website. There were claims that MegaUpload was illegally sharing copyrighted material, costing the music and film industry about half a billion dollars and profiting $175 million.
In retaliation, the hacker group Anonymous responded with several DDoS attacks against many sites including those of Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the FBI , the United States Department of Justice, copyright.gov, and other prominent government and industry sites. These attacks consisted of thousands of individual hackers working individually to overload the federal and corporate servers. The attacks resulted in several of the sites going offline.
Anonymous has posted this statement about the recent events:
“We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. The FBI didn’t think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us.”
These recent events have brought several interesting current issues to the spotlight. One of which is this: is there an internet war going on right now? Between the arrest and protest of Julian Assange, massive protests against SOPA/PIPA, and now the Federal shutdown of MegaUpload, it makes me wonder whether this kind of war can exist. Is it really in the future? Can we really have battles online on important issues? Can we really rebel against the government just by using the internet? Is this going to be part of the American Spring? Is this a form protest, illegal vandalism, or a battle over the web?
It has been argued recently on All Things Consider that the free sharing of information actually increases market output for intellectually based materials. However, it is clear that there are many people in the film and music industry who think otherwise. Anonymous has been using hacktivism to engage this issue head on, but it brings a very powerful question to mind: are these types of actions really effective ways to protest legislation and other actions we don’t support?
This XKCD comic gives a startling reminder of why we should pay attention to the actions that hacktivists do for proponents of the web:
Do you think there is some sort of war going on? And if you think there is, do you think Anonymous is doing what they need to do to help it?
By: Elton Li