In retaliation to a John Doe order taken by Copyright Labs, Chennai, from the Madras High Court, for preventing the piracy of a couple of Tamil films, hackers group Anonymous had started its ‘operation India’ in real earnest – bringing down the official websites of the Supreme Court, the ruling Congress Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Department of Telecommunications and Reliance Big Entertainment.
This was followed by the group hacking into Reliance servers and redirecting users to a page featuring its demands when they tried to access popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. Only last week, the group hacked and defaced even more government sites including the sites of All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC), the Mizoram government (Mizoram Food and Allied Industries Corporation, Mizoram Police website, etc.) and the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate, which is an attached office of the Department of Information Technology (DIT). However, all these sites are now up and functioning.
The group is now planning peaceful ‘occupy’ protests (similar to the ‘occupy Wall Street’ protest by the group in the US), to be held on June 9 in 11 cities – namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Kozhikode and Kochi. Venues and other details are mentioned on the group’s official blog and Indian citizens are asked to join the protest. Protesters have been advised to wear Guy Fawkes masks (the group’s logo) and also told what kind of banners they should carry.
The Anonymous group has also released a video, stating its intentions and the reasons behind these activities. The video says, “Hello citizens of India and the world, we are Anonymous. The department of Telecom has ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISP) in India to block access to all viral-sharing websites, legal or illegal. We cannot let any censorship happen; this is just like what the high court in the UK has done. They are going to block all access to The Pirate Bay; we will not let this go. We are Anonymous; expect us – operation India engaged.”
Initially, Reliance Communications blocked the Pirate Bay and Vimeo, a torrent and a video-sharing site, respectively, and also blocked Torrentz.com, among others. Later, Airtel and other ISPs also blocked these sites. When users tried to open the sites, they were greeted with a message that read: This website/URL has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the Directions issued by the Department of Telecommunications.