Anonymous hackers take down US anti-scam website

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:15am IST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hackers associated with the activist group Anonymous took down the U.S. government's anti-scam website OnGuardOnline.gov this week as part of a protest against U.S. efforts to stop illegal online piracy of movies and music.

The OnGuardOnline.gov site was hacked on Tuesday, January 24, and was taken offline until it was secure, the Federal Trade Commission said. The FTC builds the website with content from law enforcement, military, consumer and other U.S. agencies, it said on Thursday.

Hackers involved with the loosely organized group Anonymous have been linked to attacks around the world aimed at punishing governments for policies they dislike or at showing that corporations' data security efforts are inadequate.

The hackers said they were protesting two bills in the U.S. Congress and an international treaty, which the United States and 14 other countries have signed.

The bills are aimed at curbing access to overseas websites that traffic in pirated content and counterfeit products, such as movies and music.

But technology companies are concerned the laws would undermine Internet freedoms, be difficult to enforce and encourage frivolous lawsuits.

U.S. lawmakers last week put the brakes on legislation, after Internet companies staged a broad online protest.

"As you are reading this we are amassing our allied armies of darkness, preparing boatloads of stolen booty for our next raid," Anonymous said in a statement on the website Pastebin.com.

Hackers also struck this month when the Justice Department shuttered the content-sharing website Megaupload.com. They took down the Justice Department's website as well as sites associated with the movie and music industry.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Gary Hill)

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