Anonymous' move to attack the websites of Ireland's Department of Justice and Finance in retaliation against a proposed online anti-piracy law, has stirred a controversy on popular social media and blogs.
Experts believe the disruption will hurt, not help the case against a SOPA-like law, which is pushed through the Irish parliament. StopSOPAIrelan.com was launched in response to the bill, and an online petition has been signed by 30,000 people.
SOPA or Stop Online Privacy Act and PIPA or Protect Intellectual Property Act has been temporararily withdrawn by the White House and members of the US Senate after a mass protest of hundreds of major websites in the country. Wikipedia, Wordpress and Reddit, among the others, went offline to protest against the bills. Millions of web users took to social media to express their anger.
Ireland's Department of Justice site, justice.ie and the Department of Finance have been targeted with an apparent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Members of Anonymous collective also published a list of phone numbers for political parties including Fine Gael and Labour TD.
A Twitter account affiliated with Anonymous claimed the actions were in response to the government's reform of Ireland's copyright laws, dubbed the "Irish SOPA".
But information technology law experts TJ McIntyre, who previously criticised the bill arguing that it would represent a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, denounced the hacktivists in a blog post.
He said that Anonymous attacks will jeopardise the Irish campaign against internet blocking proposals "making it easier for the music industry to spin critics as criminals and giving unsympathetic politicians an easy, crowd pleasing reason to ignore the campaign".
Other experts believe the move will distract public opinion from the real issues. "I believe that this action will simply divert the attention of the media and elected officials away from the core issue at heart and focus instead on Ireland been subjected to these attacks," wrote Brian Honan, Security expert, in a post.
Even on Twitter, Irish users expressed their concerns on Anonymous' attack. "Very annoyed with anonymous now. Their #opireland attack is working in favour of the government, not people protesting #sopaireland,"tweeted a user.