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Two men in the UK have been arrested for involvement with online criminal activity.
The suspects, aged 20 and 24, were charged with conspiring to commit offenses under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, a UK law that has been characterized as “poorly thought out” by some and “robust and flexible” by others.
Police told The Guardian that the men were arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into the activities of Anonymous and LulzSec, two loosely organized hacktivist groups that have for some time been coordinating their efforts.
The investigation is a joint effort of Scotland Yard, South Yorkshire Police, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
As Metropolitan Police detective inspector Mark Raymond told the Guardian, “The arrests relate to our inquiries into a series of serious computer intrusions and online denial-of-service attacks recently suffered by a number of multinational companies, public institutions and government and law enforcement agencies in Great Britain and the US. We are working to detect and bring before the courts those responsible for these offenses, to disrupt such groups, and to deter others thinking of participating in this type of criminal activity.”
Indeed, the LulzSec and Anonymous hacktivist operatives have had a busy summer and have given police agencies a whirlwind of activity to investigate over the past few months in particular. About a month go, UK police also arrested an 18-year-old hacker, who may have been LulzSec spokesperson Topiary.
Many of these arrests, the number of which is approaching 20, relate back to the Wikipedia/Paypal brouhaha late last year. Operation Payback, as it was called, saw Anonymous hackers siding with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by launching web-based attacks on organizations that were cutting ties with and damaging the whistleblower organization. Paypal was one of the more notable targets in the string of attacks. For LulzSec’s part, many of its exploits have also been conducted to ostensibly support WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who was arrested in 2010 for passing information to WikiLeaks.
In retaliation for the recent string of arrests, Anonymous yesterday released 3GB of police logs, private email correspondence and login credentials for Texas law enforcement, claiming the documents revealed information “sure to embarrass, discredit and incriminate several of these so-called ‘community leaders.’”
We’ll continue to follow Anonymous news as it develops.