Despite threat, State of the Union speech not disrupted online
(CNN) — Hacker collective Anonymous announced plans to disrupt Web streams of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address in protest of various Obama administration policies.
In a posting on one of its Web pages, the group claimed it would target live streams of the speech, to be broadcast on the official White House site as well as many major news websites, including CNN. Television feeds of the speech weren’t mentioned.
However, the attack didn’t appear to happen. None of the major news feeds or the official White House site showed any signs of disruption or delay during the speech.
“The President of the United States of America, and the Joint Session of Congress will face an Army tonight. We will form a virtual blockade between Capitol Hill and the Internet,” the group declared earlier in the day.
Anonymous is a loosely organized collective, and the claims of its purported members can be hard to verify. But a handful of prominent Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous, which have in the past debunked or downplayed statements made in the name of the leaderless movement, appeared Tuesday to support the threat.
The @YourAnonNews account, with more than 877,000 followers, tweeted a news story about the effort shortly before 4 p.m. ET and urged followers to “hijack” the Twitter hashtag #SOTU — which users will presumably use to follow the speech. The people behind the account also offered an alternate hashtag — #opSOTU — for supporters.
During the speech the same account tweeted “No sign of an #OpSOTU so far other than #SOTU hashtag hijacking.”
While there were some Anonymous tweets using the #SOTU hashtag, they seemed largely lost in the noise of regular people commenting on and live-tweeting the speech.
Anonymous said it was protesting a list of beefs it has with the Obama administration, including cybersecurity legislation.
With the support of Obama, senators plan to reintroduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, on Wednesday. The bill attempts to address cyberattacks by increasing the sharing of information between private companies and the Department of Homeland Security. It was killed in the Senate last year amid concerns about privacy and lack of oversight.
President Obama issued an executive order on Tuesday dictating cybersecurity standards for industries with vulnerable infrastructure, such as transportation and power. Like CISPA, the order will promote the sharing of information between private companies and the government. The government wants to use that data to better address future cyberattacks, but detractors are concerned about privacy.
Anonymous objects to such sharing, saying it would turn “private companies into government informants.”
The group’s call to action also mentioned the recent death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, the National Defense Authorization Act, the use of military drones, Bradley Manning and warrantless wiretapping.
Taking on major news sites and the White House site was ambitious. Anonymous has announced big plans in the past, such as shutting down Facebook, without following through.