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World (9/12). The new war of cyber begun. An anonymous group of internet activists appear to have launched a series of cyber attacks to shut down the websites of Mastercard, a Swiss bank and the Swedish prosecutor’s office in an apparent retaliation for action taken against WikiLeaks, aljazeera report.
A group calling itself “Anonymous” or “Anonymous Operations” said on its homepage on Wednesday that Mastercard.com was its “current target”, after the credit card company stopped its payment services to the whisteblowing website.
The credit card company’s website was inaccessible on Wednesday morning, while PostFinance, the Swiss post office banking service, also said it was suffering denial of service attacks since it closed the bank account of Julian Assange, the website’s founder.
“Since the closure of the account, groups have launched ‘Operation Payback’ with the aim of blocking PostFinance by simulating hundreds of thousands of connections with the aim of overloading it,” Alex Josty, a PostFinance spokesman said.
Meanwhile, New York Time report that hundreds of Internet activists mounted retaliatory attacks on Wednesday on the Web sites of multinational companies and other organizations they deemed hostile to the WikiLeaks antisecrecy organization and its jailed founder, Julian Assange.
It’s report that the Internet assaults underlined the growing reach of self-described “cyber anarchists,” antigovernment and anticorporate activists who have made an icon of Mr. Assange, whom they consider one of their own.
Anonymous claimed responsibility for the MasterCard attack in Web messages and, according to one activist associated with the group, continued to conduct multiple and repeated waves of attacks on MasterCard and other companies during the day.
Attack on Swedish prosecution
The website of the Swedish prosecution authority, which has brought an arrest order against Assange, who is currently being held at a prison in Britain, said it had also made a complaint to police after an “overload attack” on Tuesday evening.
Another Swedish website for the the lawyer of the two women who made the complaint against Assange was also inaccessible.
“Well I don’t know if there is a connection between our website being hacked and WikiLeaks but I suppose so,” Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer for the two women, told to Aljazeera.
Facebook dan Twitter as a Corner
Meanwhile, to organize their efforts, the hackers have turned to sites like Facebook and Twitter. That has drawn these Web giants into the fray and created a precarious situation for them.
Both Facebook and Twitter — but particularly Twitter — have received praise in recent years as outlets for free speech. Governments trying to control the flow of information have found it difficult to block people from voicing their concerns or setting up meetings through the sites.
At the same time, both Facebook and Twitter have corporate aspirations that hinge on their ability to serve as ad platforms for other companies. This leaves them with tough public relations and business decisions around how they should handle situations as politically charged as the WikiLeaks developments.
Some internet experts say the situation highlights the complexities of free speech issues on the Internet, as grassroots Web companies evolve and take central control over what their users can make public. Clay Shirky, who studies the Internet and teaches at New York University, said that although the Web is the new public sphere, it is actually “a corporate sphere that tolerates public speech.”
Marcia Hofmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “Any Internet user who cares about free speech or has a controversial or unpopular message should be concerned about the fact that intermediaries might not let them express it.”
Like she told to NY Time, “Your free speech rights are only as strong as the weakest intermediary.”
In an interview Wednesday morning to Ny Time, Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, addressed WikiLeaks’s own presence on the site. He said the company had not received any official requests to disable pages or accounts associated with the WikiLeaks organization.
Facebook generally resists requests by governments or advocacy groups to take down material if that content is not illegal or does not violate Facebook’s terms of service, which prohibit attacks on individuals or incitements to violence.
Twitter allowed the Operation Payback account to stay active most of Wednesday. But the group’s account was disabled late in the day, after it posted a link to a file that provided thousands of consumer credit card numbers, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
A Twitter spokesman declined to discuss the details of the situation.
“We don’t comment about the specific actions we take around user accounts,” he said to Ny Time.
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