Virgin Media’s site, virginmedia.com, was still out of commission Wednesday in a presumed continuation of yesterday’s attacks by hacktivist collective Anonymous, which were launched in response to the media giant’s blocking of popular torrent site, The Pirate Bay.
Virgin Media blacked out access to the Swedish file-sharing site last week in compliance with an April 30th ruling by Britain’s High Court, which currently requires five of the UK’s largest Internet service providers to block the site.
Anonymous began a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack at 5:00 pm BT (12:00 pm ET) on Tuesday designed to overwhelm the site’s associated computer system. As of 6:00 pm ET, virginmedia.com remains inaccessible. TalkTalk, another UK-based internet service provider included in the court order, was also forced offline Wednesday.
The Pirate Bay, which hosts “torrent” files that allow users to download or share information, has come under fire over the past three years. While file sharing is not, in of itself, an illegal activity, the site has become a hub for the exchange of copyrighted materials, and in 2009 the site’s founders, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström, were found guilty of promoting copyright infringement by a Swedish court. The four men were sentenced to time in prison and millions of dollars’ worth of fines and damages paid to entertainment company plaintiffs.
Despite this, The Pirate Bay doesn’t seem to be taking the block personally (possibly because this is where the founders were being incarcerated). The site issued a statement on its Facebook page yesterday denouncing Anonymous’ actions, saying: “We do NOT encourage these actions. We believe in the open and free internets, where anyone can express their views. Even if we strongly disagree with them and even if they hate us. So don’t fight them using their ugly methods. DDOS and blocks are both forms of censorship.”
Anonymous, however, posted a response on its Tumblr page saying that The Pirate Bay had missed the point of the attack:
The attacks are not simply about facilitating access to the Pirate Bay website but to stop the type of order used to block your website being used as a precedent for further censorship on the internet. The entire reason for the protest is to protect freedom of expression from being blocked without any form of judicial process. ISPs are the gateways to democracy in this technology age, to censor access to websites with such an abuse of the legal process, outside parliament our a Humans Right court is unlaw and an abuse of power.
Virgin Media is one of five internet service providers in the UK – the others being Sky, Everything Everywhere, O2 and the other targeted ISP, TalkTalk – that have been ordered by the High Court to block access to the site by this Friday. A sixth provider, BT, has requested more time to consider whether or not to comply with the court order.