Anonymous hacks U.S. Sentencing Commission website for Aaron Swartz

In weekend attacks, hackers released encrypted government files and turned the sentencing website into a video game

Topics: Aaron Swartz, Anonymous, hackers, asteroids, Department of Justice, U.S. Sentencing Commission, ,

Anonymous hacks U.S. Sentencing Commission website for Aaron Swartz (Credit: Shutterstock)

Continuing tributes to the late Aaron Swartz, Anonymous hacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission twice over the weekend. The hacker collective first commandeered the site Friday night, replacing the homepage with a video, in typical Anons style, which decried the government’s treatment of Swartz, a brilliant young technologist who committed suicide facing felony charges for downloading over 4 million JSTOR articles.

Anonymous also claims to have distributed encrypted government files through the hacked website, threatening to release the decryption codes (revealing the as yet unknown information held on the stolen files) if the government fails to comply with demands to reform flawed cybercrime laws — the laws under which Swartz was persecuted. The released files were named after Supreme Court justices. “A line has been crossed” with the zealous pursuit of charges against Swartz, the hackers’ statement noted.



Although the government site appeared to return to normal on Saturday, it was hacked again Sunday night (suggesting the government had not wrested control back from Anonymous). This time, the hack was spiced with a touch of lulz — Anonymous distributed a basic code, which turned the website into a version of the video game “Asteroids.” Players were invited to shoot away at the homepage to reveal a Guy Fawkes made up of text, “We do not forgive. We do not forget.”

In targeting the Sentencing Commission site, hackers symbolically took aim at a justice system wherein minimum sentencing laws put undue power in the hands of government prosecutors, who can exact guilty pleas from suspects afraid of facing hefty jail sentences at trial. “The federal sentencing guidelines,” Anonymous’ message on the site read, “enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial.”

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>