Screengrab of French government website defaced by Anonymous
Homepage of a French government website defaced by Anonymous

The hacking collective Anonymous has defaced a French government website in protest at an international copyright law and the shutdown of the file-sharing website Megaupload in the United States.

Following a wave of attacks that it carried out for the same reason, the group targeted, replacing the home page and installing background music, which it said is intended to incite hackers to revolt.

The move was announced by anon YourAnonNews, who tweeted: "#BREAKING defaced by #Anonymous with a background music track "comme des anonymes (like anonymous)" | #FRANCE |#ACTA|"

Last week, hundreds of people took the street across 36 French cities to demonstrate against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta). Demonstrators fear that Acta, which is to be ratified by the European Union, will be as pernicious as the Stop Online Privacy Act, which was withdrawn by the White House and the US Senate after a mass protest by hundreds of major user-generated content websites.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the bill will primarily deal with counterfeit physical goods, such as medicine. But experts claim it will have a wider scope and will deal with new tools targeting "internet distribution and information technology". It spans the developed world, including the US, the European Union, Switzerland and Japan.

The new homepage read: "Modernisation occurs through the understanding of technology. You cannot stop the free distribution of cultural goods on the Internet, which reflects a free society where people can live together as equals.

"We will be in peace with the French state as long as it will decide to fight, together with the people, for freedom of expression and against all forms of censorship. Today, we cannot tolerate a government that is capable of spying, repression and keeping dictators in power, as it did in Libya."

The background music was later removed and a 404 error page appeared on the site.

On 26 January, Acta was signed by 22 members of the EU, including France.

It has yet to be ratified by the European Parliament, though it already has the support of the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

Protests over the the act were particularly strong in Poland, where around 10,000 people marched to protest against the proposed bill.

To show its disapproval of the legislation, Anonymous launched several attacks against governmental and entertainment websites, including the FBI and the French government.