Hackers from ‘Anonymous’ – the self-styled internet freedom fighters – have attacked several media, government, and music and film industry websites.
The online assault came within minutes of the US authorities moving to shut down the major file-sharing website Megaupload. Its founders have been arrested, accused of copyright infringement.
Among the websites targeted by Anonymous are the US Justice Department, the FBI and the White House. Several online articles in international media covering the shutdown also appear to have been hit.
Megaupload’s two co-founders and three employees were arrested in New Zealand at the request of US authorities. They have appeared in court in Auckland and been remanded in custody. Three others have reportedly been held in other countries.
They are all accused of running an international criminal enterprise, and carrying out piracy and money laundering on a global scale. US authorities estimate the damage to copyright holders at well over 500 million US dollars.
Earlier this week protesters rallied in New York, calling for an end to a bill targeting foreign websites that infringe US copyright. Campaigners say the planned law threatens internet freedom worldwide.