January 20, 2012    /    by

DOJ Shuts Down Megaupload, Anonymous Retaliates

This is turning into a wild week for headline-grabbing cyber activity. Immediately following Internet protests of proposed new legislation to crack down on Internet piracy, the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved quickly to shut down one of the most popular websites known for illegal downloads called Magaupload.

This is turning into a wild week for headline-grabbing cyber activity. Immediately following Internet protests of proposed new legislation to crack down on Internet piracy, the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved quickly to shut down one of the most popular websites known for illegal downloads called Magaupload.

 According to the Washington Post:

“Federal authorities Thursday indicted two firms and shut down one of the Web’s most popular sites for sharing illegally pirated material, triggering a quick response from hackers who claimed credit for taking down the Web sites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry Association of America and other media companies in retaliation.”

This story was making headlines across the tech world, with Computerworld Magazine reporting that: Anonymous retaliates for Megaupload shutdown, attacks DOJ, others.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

The hacker group Anonymous is claiming responsibility for attacks that have taken down websites run by Universal Music, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Recording Industry Association of America in retaliation for the government's removal of the Megaupload websites.

‘The government takes down Megaupload? 15 minutes later Anonymous takes down government and record label sites,’ the Anonymous Twitter feed read.

That note was followed shortly by this one: "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." The tweet referred to the Stop Online Piracy Act, an Internet piracy bill being considered in the U.S. Congress.”

Other details were also available over at USA Today:

 “An indictment accused Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to make it easier for authorities to go after websites with pirated material, especially those with headquarters and servers overseas.

Megaupload is based in Hong Kong, but some of the alleged pirated content was hosted on leased servers in Ashburn, Va., which gave federal authorities jurisdiction, the indictment said.”

Coverage of yesterday's events streteched over to the United Kingdom. The Guardian newspaper reported that: "The US government has closed down one of the world's largest filesharing websites, accusing its founders of racketeering, money laundering and presiding over 'massive' online piracy."

Meanwhile, a more detailed list of activity and timelines was seen over at Gizmodo.com. The bold headline read: THEY ARE BACK with a long list of websites that were attacked (including the FBI and EMI Records) and more than eleven updates.  

This flurry of activity is revealing a new face in the global Internet battle over online laws and content controls in cyberspace. Some online are even calling it the long-awaited cyber war - but not me. However, the war of words and company protests are showing up in real-life indictments and the shutting down of popular sites offering illegal copies of copyright material.

Many commentators (including myself) have been saying that the virtual world (Internet) today often resembles the wild west of bygone years or like the 1930s with mobs in Chicago. This week’s events are showing these analogies to be fairly accurate.

One more thing - in a related development, all four Republican candidates for President stood together to oppose the proposed SOPA Internet piracy legislation in last night's debate. The White House has already stated that the legislation has flaws. I wrote about this topic earlier in my previous blog post this week.

What do you think? Where is this cyber battle heading? Will the global Internet police be able to stop Anonymous anytime soon? Or, will the global protesting grow with hackers outgunning law enforcement in cyberspace? Are these protests a good thing or not?