If you checked the United States Sentencing Commission’s website over the weekend, you may have noticed that the homepage was temporarily offline; in fact, it is still slow and unresponsive. If you caught it at the right moment, you may have even seen why it was taken down.
Today, you can still blast away at the text of the U.S. Probation Office for the Eastern District of Michigan by entering the Konami code. Individuals claiming to be part of the group Anonymous hacked into the sites over the weekend, and replaced the USSC homepage with a video and added Asteroids to the site and others – all to protest the events leading up to the death of Aaron Swartz.
Who Is Anonymous?
According to their website, Anonymous, also known as AnonOps, is a group of people from around the world that oppose a variety of government control policies, including the current copyright laws. Anonymous believes that the Internet, and anything on it, should be free for people to use as they wish. The group is known as Anonymous because they do not keep any logs that could be used to identify someone, and don’t identify themselves. This anonymity helps the group members continue with their hacks on a number of databases; not just government ones.
The people responsible for breaking into the USSC website believed that the current US system of justice is broken, and used Aaron Swartz’s death as an example and as the reasoning behind the attack. Anonymous placed a video on the homepage of the website to explain that Swartz’s death meant that a line had been crossed, as he was forced into a game that he could never win.
Aaron Swartz: Who Was He?
Aaron Swartz was a computer programmer and founder of the group, Demand Progress. He was against the introduction of the SOPA and PIPA – two bills that threatened to censor the Internet. He was facing charges for hacking and downloading research documents using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) networks.
While he planned to plead not guilty to the charges, he was facing the prospect of 35 years in prison and paying a $1m fine for downloading research material that was from a subscription-only archive when he took his life on January 11, 2013. The family of Swartz stated that the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and MIT had contributed to the suicide.
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