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Hacktivists deface BSNL website

by Prasad Krishna last modified Dec 14, 2012 05:20 AM
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) website,, was hacked and defaced on Thursday afternoon.

The article by Kim Arora was published in the Times of India on December 13, 2012. Sunil Abraham is quoted.

A message on the home page said the attack was carried out by the hacktivist group, Anonymous India, as a protest against section 66 A of the IT Act and in support of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar since Dec 8 for the same. The website was restored around 7 pm.

Trivedi said he had received a call from Anonymous around 1.30 in the afternoon informing him that the website has been defaced. On being asked if such a form of protest was valid, Trivedi said, "When the government doesn't pay heed to people's protests against its laws and arrests innocent people for Facebook posts, then such a protest is absolutely valid."

For most of the afternoon and early evening, the BSNL website wasn't available directly. A cached version of the BSNL home page showed an image of cartoonist Trivedi with text that read "Hacked by Anonymous India. support Aseem trivedi (cartoonist) and alok dixit on the hunger strike. remove IT Act 66a databases of all 250 bsnl site has been d Hacked by Anonymous India (sic)". While this message was repeated over and over on the page, it ended with the line "Proof are (sic) here" followed by a link to a page containing the passwords to BSNL databases. BSNL officials were unaware of the attack until Thursday evening.

Late in the evening, Anonymous India tweeted from their account @opindia_revenge: "BSNL Websites hacked, passwords and database leaked... Anonymous India demands withdrawal of Sec 66A of IT Act."

In an open letter to the Government of India posted on alternate media website Kafila in June this year, Anonymous had explained they only carried out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on Indian government websites, which is different from the act of hacking per se.

Contrary views too exist. Sunil Abraham, executive director, Centre for Internet and Society, says the attack was unwarranted. "Speech regulation in India is not a lost cause, the Minister is holding consultations, MPs are raising the issue in Parliament, courts have been approached and there is massive public outcry on social media. Therefore I would request Anonymous India to desist from defacing websites," said Abraham. A group of MPs, including Baijayant Jay Panda from Odisha, are scheduled to present a motion in Parliament on Friday morning for the amendment of section 66A of the IT Act.

Last month, two young girls were arrested in Palghar, Maharashtra, for criticizing on Facebook the bandh that followed the death of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. Before that, Karti Chidambaram, son of finance minister P Chidambaram, took a man to court for commenting on his financial assets on Twitter. In both cases, the complainant 'used' section 66 A of the IT Act. The section and the Act have since come in for wide debate regarding freedom of speech.

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