Notorious hacktivist group Anonymous has taken down the UK Home Office website. The group took responsibility for the attack, saying in their tweet it was launched for ‘draconian surveillance proposals.’
The Home Office, whose website returned to normal around midnight GMT, confirmed the attack.
“We are aware of some reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of an online protest. We have put all potential measures in place and will be monitoring the situation very closely,” the spokesperson said.
The group also claims it had launched a cyberattack on the websites of the British Prime Minister and the UK Ministry of Justice “for continued derogation of civil liberties.” However, both websites seem to be operating normally at the moment.
British security agencies are pushing for a law which would allow police to monitor text messages, phone calls and emails of their citizens, as well as websites visited, Facebook and Twitter exchanges, and even online game chats. More than $3 billion over the first decade alone is the extraordinary sum the British taxpayer may have to pay to be legally spied upon should the bill be passed.
The bill is aimed at finding potential terrorists and criminals in the name of protecting British citizens. However, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office, an independent watchdog upholding information rights in the public interest, once implemented, the bill may lead to innocents being wrongly identified as criminals or, worse still, terrorists.
The plan is expected to be announced in May in the Queen’s Speech and is said to have been prepared by the Home Office in collaboration with home security service MI5, the foreign intelligence service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – the body responsible for signals intelligence and information assurance for UK’s government and armed forces.
Anonymous also said in their tweets they had launched the action in support of Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon and TVShack creator Richard O’Dwyer, who face extradition from the UK to the United States.
“You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial,” said one of the tweets claiming to be from Anonymous.
The group has become increasingly associated with international “hacktivism”, staging protests and high-profile cyberattacks. Anonymous has carried out attacks on scores of organizations, political parties and governments across the world, including the White House, CIA, FBI, China’s government websites and others.