January 19, 2012; Source: Boston Globe | Late on Thursday, the apparently loosely organized hacktivist group Anonymous took responsibility for a series of cyber-attacks that disrupted service at government and entertainment Industry sites. Among the sites that experienced disruptions of service: the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Copyright Office, the Universal Music Group, and BMI, an organization that collects copyright royalties for music composers and the Recording Industry Association of America.

According to the Boston Globe, the attack “was apparently launched in retaliation for the indictments of seven people and two Hong Kong companies accused of distributing illicit content worth more than $500 million. The two companies, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd., and their executives were charged with racketeering, money laundering, and copyright infringement. The Justice Department said the parties have earned more than $175 million in illicit revenue from their activities.”

By Friday morning, most of the affected sites were back online, though the Universal Music site was still down.

The FBI has stated that it is investigating the service disruptions, which occurred just one day after a high-profile daylong online protest of proposed “anti-piracy” legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate. During the protest, major sites like Wikipedia and MoveOn went dark and Google blacked out its logo. According to an article in Computerworld, messages were sent taking responsibility for the attack over Anonymous’ Twitter feed, one of which read, “The government takes down Megaupload? 15 minutes later Anonymous takes down government and record label sites.” That message was followed by another: “Megaupload was taken down w/out SOPA being law. Now imagine what will happen if it passes. The Internet as we know it will end. FIGHT BACK.” –Ruth McCambridge