In keeping with its weekly Friday anti-government hijinks, the Anonymous hackers this morning (Feb. 17) took down several United States Federal Trade Commission websites in protest of the U.S. government's support of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
ACTA is a controversial international agreement that has polarized European lawmakers and, much in the same vein of the recently shelved Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has drawn intense scrutiny from those worried the agreement could clamp down on Internet privacy.
Announced on the AnonymousIRC Twitter feed, the hackers took down business.ftc.gov, consumer.gov and ncpw.gov, the website for information on National Consumer Protection Week 2012. The latter two sites were still down as of 4:00 p.m. EST.
On Business.ftc.gov, a message reads: "The Bureau of Consumer Protection's Business Center website, run by the Federal Trade Commission, was hacked on February 17, 2012. The FTC takes this malicious act seriously. The site has been taken down and will be brought back up when we're satisfied that any vulnerability has been addressed."
Anonymous' hacking campaign against ACTA also saw the hackers deface the FTC Business Center website with a satirical German-language YouTube video called "ACTA Attack!"
In the short, profanity-filled clip, purported ACTA operatives swarm in on a home where a man is shown sending a picture to his mother. The armed men pretend to open fire on the man while screaming "ATCAaaaaaa." After the man is "dead," one of the gunmen proclaims, "The world is safe again."
All the gunmen eventually "kill" one another as a result of the copyrighted ringtones on their cellphones. It's a clever, if not entirely subtle, reference to the criticized scope of ACTA, which some opponents believe will give governments the authority to censor the Internet.
Several Eastern European countries have seen recent protests over their government's signing of the agreement, including Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
Anonymous flexed its muscles elsewhere on the Web today; the activist network also took credit for hacking Combined Systems Inc., a Pennsylvania-based tear gas and weapons company that sells its products to military and law enforcement personnel around the world, and Surveillance Technologies (SurTec Inc.), an Ohio-based maker of surveillance equipment for law enforcement agencies.
As of 4 p.m. EST, Combined Systems' site was down; SurTec's site was back online.