MP Peter Hain: Anonymous Hack Was Attack On Freedom Of Speech
Labour MP tells TechWeekEurope Anonymous hack of his site was irrational
Peter Hain, the former Wales and Northern Ireland secretary, has said an Anonymous hack of his website amounted to an attack on freedom of speech.
The hacktivist group managed to compromise the Labour MP’s site, leaving a message giving various reasons for its hit.
“Mr Hain doesn’t like it when he’s told he can’t say what he wants, and neither do we. Unfortunately we have serious doubts about his integrity,” the message read. “Not only was he involved in what amounts to political money laundering, but he was also responsible for allowing Unum [an insurance company] and Atos Origins [Atos, the IT services company] to begin the Great Demolition of the benefits protection for the sick and disabled people of the UK.
“Despite his blustering against Atos in recent months, there is no doubt that he is a traitor to the people of the United Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We do not forget Mr Hain.”
Anonymous has been targeting various government-related websites in support of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who is attempting to secure safe passage to Ecuador, which has granted the Australian asylum. Assange was due to be extradited to Sweden, after losing his appeal to remain in the UK, as he is wanted for questioning in relation to allegations of rape.
Anonymous claimed hits on both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in support of Assange last week.
Yet Peter Hain, MP for Neath, said he was baffled by the hit on his website, not least because he opposed the extradition of Assange.
“I have no idea why they have gone for me,” he told TechWeekEurope. “It’s completely weird. The stuff they posted on the website was completely gibberish… I have no idea what the stuff about money laundering was all about.”
Hain, who said the hit had awakened him to the cyber threat, criticised the actions of Anonymous, describing them as irrational. “Websites are now a crucial means of free speech and communication… it’s an attack on free speech and in my case a wrongly-targeted attack but they don’t seem to care,” he added.
“I can see how a modern form of protest would be to target a malevolent corporation or a government that is denying human rights or justice, but I don’t see how targeting me fits into that picture or random targeting of other people.
“I don’t see how this adds up to any sort of rational agenda.”
The website has been restored yet the former Cabinet member, who retired from frontline politics earlier this year, said the attack meant he lost “a lot of archive material from the website”, including “years and years of constituency news items and speeches and material that seems unretrievable.”
“We are working on restoring the website and it has been going on through to today,” he added.
Anonymous has been criticised before for blocking freedom of speech – an ideology it was supposed to promote, not hinder. Its typical attack method, knocking a website offline with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) strike, is one way in which Anonymous prevents its targets from responding to criticisms or vocalising opinions.
Earlier this year, TechWeekEurope was first to reveal that home secretary Theresa May had her website struck down with a DDoS .
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