Anonymous Claims Responsibility for Japanese Government Website Attacks

Hacking and online activist group Anonymous has been linked to attacks to Japanese government websites, which briefly brought down ministry and judiciary websites. The group, which uses Twitter account @op_japan has claimed responsibility, and said the attacks were due to the Japanese government’s proposed anti-piracy legislation.

Anonymous claims attacks on Japanese websites, citing complaints against proposed anti-piracy law. (Photo: ShutterStock)

The Japanese anti-piracy bill aims to impose jail terms on users who illegally download copyrighted content. Anonymous said in its website that this would “result in scores of unnecessary prison sentences to numerous innocent citizens.”

In particular, the websites of the Finance Ministry, Supreme Court and two political parties — the DPJ and LDP — had been brought down by the hack attacks. Finance Ministry official Takanari Horino said that the web pages have been defaced, and the hackers put up an unauthorized link. These sites have since been restored to service.

According to the proposed anti-piracy bill, the act of “downloading of copyrighted works knowing that they are not free and that it is illegal,” could result in fines up to 2 million yen (US$ 25,300), a prison sentence of up to two years, or both. However, Anonymous claims that this proposed law would do “little to solve the underlying problem of legitimate copyright infringement.” On its website, the group said that “the content industry is now pushing ISPs in Japan to implement surveillance technology that will spy on … every single internet user. This would be an unprecedented approach and severely reduce the amount of privacy law abiding citizens should have in a free society.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan, about 4.36 billion files have been illegally downloaded in 2010 alone.

Members of the collective have been staging protests elsewhere. Earlier this month, Anonymous in India has also protested against Internet censorship in the country, particularly with the courts ordering a blanket ban on file-sharing websites and Torrent sites like The Pirate Bay. The group also claimed responsibility for breaking into 500 websites in China this April, which includes government websites, and websites run by business groups.