Anonymous Hacking Group Launches India Protest Against Censorship

Members of the internet hacking group Anonymous have been staging protests across 16 cities in India, against what they say is internet censorship in the country.

Members of a hacking group, Anonymous India, wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against Indian government enacted laws that gives it power to censor different aspects of Internet usage, in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, June 9, 2012. The Indian hacker group is a spinoff of Anonymous, an amorphous group of activists, hackers and pranksters whose past targets have included Visa and MasterCard. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

Mumbai’s Azad Maidan sports ground is often packed with children playing cricket, but the bowlers and batsmen were joined on Saturday by a sea of Guy Fawkes masks.

The costumes are a hallmark of the internet “hacktivist” group Anonymous which organised a series of protests in Indian cities, including Mumbai.

“I’m here for internet freedom. There’s restrictions on speaking online. That’s why I’m here,” says 19-year-old Amisha, a student who was one of around 100 protesters in Mumbai.

Holding banners calling for freedom from censorship, the group were protesting against India’s internet laws.

“India is following China and Iran. They don’t want the right information to reach people,” said 20-year-old student Nishant, whose face was hidden behind a scarf and sunglasses.

“There are some sites they’ve blocked for information which is relevant to us. Information which is useful to us as citizens of this country,” he added.

Speaking to the BBC via their internet chatroom, members of Anonymous India said they were representing the “common man” and were simply ordinary internet users trying to make a point.

Hackers attack

Anonymous India organised its Occupy campaign against what it believes is the unfair blocking and banning of file sharing sites by Indian internet service providers (ISPs) such as Reliance Communications and Airtel.

“We are protesting arbitrary, extra-judicial censorship, where not even the government knows – or cares – who controls what,” said @anamikanon from Anonymous on the group’s chatroom.

Last month a number of Indian ISPs blocked access to file-sharing sites including Vimeo, Pastebin, Piratebay and Dailymotion following a court order which centred on the issue of internet copyright.

A Chennai-based film company, Copyrightlabs, called on big Indian ISPs, including Reliance Communications, MTNL and BSNL, to prevent access to websites which allowed users to illegally watch two of their Bollywood movies, Three and Dhammu.

The court order, known as an Ashok Kumar order, is like a John Doe order in the United States – designed to protect the copyright of music, films and other content.

The blocking of access to file-sharing and torrent websites prompted Anonymous India to hack into more than 15 sites, including the Indian Supreme Court, two political parties and the Indian telecoms providers.

The group carried out a number of “Denial of Service” (DDOS) attacks, which can temporarily suspend connection to a site.

It also claims it was able to enter the servers of Reliance Communications, and in a press conference in May, presented a list of the file sharing sites it alleges the ISP had restricted access to.

Via BBC News.