After the high-profile cyber and ‘IRL’ (In Real Life) war/protests that raged between the Anonymous supporters of WikiLeaks and its ‘opponents’, authorities, especially in the United States, have begun to crack down on those who voluntary participated in the Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks that targeted and in some cases ”took down” the sites of MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Sarah Palin, the Swedish Prosecutor, the Swedish government, Amazon and others deemed ‘anti-WikiLeaks’ as part of Operation Payback/Operation Avenge Assange.
Yesterday the FBI acted on 40 search warrants that combed different parts of the U.S. Judging from Ars Technica’s report on some of the known sources on a private forum that claim they were raided by the FBI, the FBI confiscated mainly electronics. At the certain home of an individual who assumedly took part in the ‘cyber-war’, computers, iPods, laptops, CDs, DVDs, game consoles (Xbox 360, Wii) and so forth were reported to have been confiscated by the individual who claimed to have been raided:
Almost at the same time, 5 ‘anons’ were arrested in Britain. An open letter from Anonymous to the United Kingdom government presented the DDoS attacks as a “means of protest” comparable to peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins. The open letter waved away the common misconception about the supposed synonymous meanings of hacking and DDoS’ing.
The open letter also argued against the maximum sentences the arrested in both present and future could face:
Furthermore, the maximum sentence these 5 anons could be given under the Computer Misuse Act is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to £5000. We want you to realize just how ridiculous these sentences are, especially given the exact nature of a DDoS attack and its lack of permanent damage to the target website. To hand out these kinds of harsh sentences (even to minors!) would effectively ruin their life, taking away their chance at higher education or even any kind of proper future, simply because they participated in a peaceful cyber-protest and stood up for their rights. A fine as high as £5000 would also put an incredible strain on the minors’ families. We hope that you consider changing the legal framework for what is, at worst, a minor offence.
Concluding the letter on a defiant note, the author(s) of the open letter finished by saying:
And last but not least: The fact that thousands of people from all over the world felt the need to participate in these attacks on organisations targeting Wikileaks and treating it as a public threat, rather than a common good, should be something that sets you thinking. You can easily arrest individuals, but you cannot arrest an ideology. We are united by a common objective and we can and WILL cross any borders to achieve that. So our advice to you, the UK government, is to take this statement as a serious warning from the citizens of the world. We will not rest until our fellow anon protesters have been released.
Anonymous members also pointed out that cyber-attacks against WikiLeaks were not being investigated by the FBI nor any other authority which led to their arguement that the motivation behind the crackdown on Anonymous is purely political.