In a massive triumph for freedom of the Internet a British law firm (ACS: Law) that specialises in anti-piracy cases has been exposed by Internet activists for what it is: a heartless, soulless, money-grubbing conglomeration of complete bastards, who have no respect for human rights, or even humans.
The story goes like this: Over the past few years ACS: Law and in particular their evil leader Andrew Crossley somehow obtained a list of thousands of people whose IP addresses had apparently been used to download copyrighted material.
Crossley sent out thousands of threatening letters, accusing people of piracy and promising them horrendous punishment unless they paid a cash settlement of hundreds of pounds.
Many people paid rather than face a long legal battle.
There are several things wrong with what ASS: Law did, and even more wrong with how they did it.
1) It appears as if they deliberately targeted people who would be less likely to resist. For example they accused old-age pensioners of downloading hardcore pornography, knowing that they would be horrified and try to avoid a scandal.
2) They also targeted married men and accused them of downloading hardcore gay pornography, on the logic that they would most likely wish to save their marriage by keeping things quiet.
3) On at least one occasion they believed they had got the wrong woman, but resolved to carry on forcing her to pay the fine. After all, money is all that matters, right?
4) ACS: Whore has itself admitted that just because a person’s name appeared on one of their lists does not mean that they are the person responsible for downloading the pirated material. In other words they knew that their methodology had nothing to do with actually battling piracy, and everything to do with making an easy buck
5) Some of ATM: Law’s clients actually expressed concern that the firm’s methods were inaccurate and might be targeting the wrong people. But Crossley et al ignored them, and carried on.
6) Andrew Crossley is a huge asshole.
But last week things took a turn for the better. Anonymous, the amorphous, many-headed Internet activist group and “Internet Hate Machine”, took it upon themselves to arrange a DDOS of ACS: Bore’s website.
The attack, code-named ‘Operation Payback’ was moderately successful. The website went down for a few hours and Anonymous garnered some media attention. Since the primary goal of any DDOS is to get ideas expressed to a wider audience it achieved its goal. Mostly.
One strange feature of this attack is the claim that Moot, the owner of 4chan, actually did what he could to restrict use of 4chan’s boards as a staging area for the attack. Thus, forcing Anonymous to organise via other websites and communications technologies.
This was probably as part of his attempts to keep 4chan’s media profile as low as possible.
Crossley, naturally, felt the need to downplay the attack and said that it was only as annoying as a train being late.
But then, he accidentally the whole thing.
When ACS: Claw’s website came back up it was, for reasons known only to Crossley, left completely unsecured. This was an incredibly negligent thing to do, particularly for an organisation that was storing thousands of people’s personal details, including their credit card numbers.
Shortly thereafter hackers, also claiming to be members of Anonymous, downloaded the data and posted it online.