In response to the suicidal death of Aaron Swartz, the man who helped create web sites including Reddit.com and who was facing federal charges, Anonymous – the politically-motivated activists’ Internet web site hacking group – took over the United States Sentencing Commission’s governmental web site (www.ussc.gov) on Saturday according to numerous sources including CNN.
In the process, Anonymous has threatened to release classified information about the United State Department of Justice. According to Anonymous, Saturday’s hijacking of the United States governmental site is to result in the release of information obtained from servers associated with the web site if the United States does not reform its justice system. The threat came to the government in the form of an online posting simply signed “Anonymous.”
The executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch – Richard McFeely – was quick to respond to the cyber attack by saying that the hijacking of the site by Anonymous is being handles as a criminal investigation. Said McFeely: “We are always concerned with someone illegally accesses another person’s or government agency’s network.”
The motivation for today’s Internet hacking came from the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz who took his own life on January 11, 2013. Swartz, 26, was in the thick of facing federal computer fraud charges which may have resulted in 35 years of incarceration in a federal prison. Thereby, Anonymous blames the justice system in the United States for Swartz’ death. According to Anonymous, Swartz was killed because he faced what it calls an impossible choice. Swartz’ family has concurred in a statement that the allegations the Swartz stole millions of online documents contributed to his decision to end his life. The involved files with the case were, for the most part, academic papers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The hacking occurred at approximately 1:40 a.m. EST on Saturday morning, leaving the web site open for anyone to take part in the vandalizing or hacking of the site. Hours later, the web site has been inaccessible.
Most recently, Anonymous made headlines when it hacked the web site associated with the Westboro Baptist Church when the church members threatened to protest in Newtown, Connecticut at the victims’ funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Dec. 14, 2012.