A handful of official U.S. government websites were hacked today in protest of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a highly controversial international trade agreement largely cooked up by media companies to protect their copyrighted content from being pirated online.
The hacktivist group Anonymous is believed to be responsible for the attack. According to the International Business Times, the group posted a strongly worded anti-ACTA statement as well as an anti-ACTA PSA video from YouTube (embedded below) to business.ftc.gov, consumer.gov, and the National Consumer Protection Week official site (ncpw.gov).
For those who aren’t familiar with the trade agreement, ACTA is an international treaty aimed at giving countries the ability to stop copyright infringement and other forms of intellectual property theft — a standard framework so that all countries around the world can charge and prosecute digital piracy. However, many Europeans (as well as Americans to a lesser extent) are against the trade agreement because it doesn’t directly address or stop piracy in a meaningful way. That’s on top of the fact that most government officials signed (or attempted to) the agreement in secrecy, without input from public discourse, as VentureBeat’s Dylan Tweney pointed out previously. More recently, the German government formally refused to sign ACTA.
The affected government websites are all offline this morning, but we’ve pasted a portion of Anonymous’ anti-ACTA statement below. If you’re in a hurry, Anonymous was kind enough to include a TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) line at the bottom, which reads “ACTA is a downright shitty act. We must kill it. With fire.”
“Even more bothersome than your complete lack of competence in maintaining your own fucking websites and serving the citizens you are supposed to be protecting, is the US federal government’s support of ACTA. You really want to empower copyright holders to demand that users who violate IP rights (with no legal process) have their Internet connections terminated? You really want to allow a country with an oppressive Internet censorship regime to demand under the treaty that an ISP in another country remove site content? Well, we have a critical warning for you, and we suggest you read the next few paragraphs very, very closely.
If ACTA is signed by all participating negotiating countries, you can rest assured that Antisec will bring a fucking mega-uber-awesome war that rain torrential hellfire down on all enemies of free speech, privacy and internet freedom. We will systematically knock all evil corporations and governments off of our internet.”