Islamic state cloudflare Anonymous Ghostsec
US courts have forced the shut down of illegal music streaming websites but Anonymous claims they have ignored Islamic State-related sites (Jihad-e-informacion)

A group associated with hacktivist collective Anonymous has condemned the US for prioritising the shutting down of illegal music sharing sites over those used to host Islamic State (IS) content.

As part of the online campaign #OpISIS, a hacker collective called GhostSec released a list of 41 websites protected by US-based company Cloudflare that it claims are being used to promote terrorism.

GhostSec also references a recent lawsuit filed against Cloudflare by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that resulted in US District Court Judge Alison Nathan ordering Cloudflare to terminate services to music streaming site Grooveshark.

The collective claims that while efforts are being made to shut down streaming services, nothing is being done about sites related to IS.

GhostSec said in a statement: "Here is the question. What is more important to disconnect: Song sharing sites or international terrorists that are murdering and raping innocent people?

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Anonymous has criticised CloudFlare for not blocking its service to pro-Isis websites CC

"People of the world, we all need to stand up and put a stop to this. Voice your opinion. Tweet your Attorney General, State Rep etc. We will be heard."

'Submitting to mob rule'

Cloudflare has previously outlined its position on blocking its services to websites such as the ones listed, saying that to do so would mean submitting to "mob rule". The company does not itself host the content of the websites; instead, it protects sites from malicious traffic and cyber attacks from the likes of Anonymous.

"Individuals have decided that there is content they disagree with but the right way to deal with this is to follow the established law enforcement procedures," Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of CloudFlare, told IBTimes UK in April. "There is no society on Earth that tolerates mob rule because the mob is fickle.

"We're the plumbers of the internet. We make the pipes work but it's not right for us to inspect what is or isn't going through the pipes. If companies like ours or ISPs [internet service providers] start censoring, there would be an uproar. It would lead us down a path of internet censors and controls akin to a country like China."

Prince also highlighted the irony that the most requests to terminate services were actually against Anonymous, however no requests have been fulfilled unless the firm is instructed to do so by a court of law.

CloudFlare said it has not received a single law enforcement request to block any of the sites listed by GhostSec.

Isis intelligence gathering

Intelligence agencies in the UK and the US have previously criticised online campaigns against IS, as they claim that taking down websites and social media accounts associated with the jihadist group shuts down a key source of intelligence gathering.

Anonymous has dismissed this argument, claiming IS is using such sites and services as a recruitment and propaganda tool, rather than communicating valuable military strategic information.

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A Twitter profile that features a baby's hand holding an Islamic State flag Twitter/ censored by IBTimes UK

In apparent recognition of this, a new Europe-wide police team was recently set up to track down and remove IS social media accounts.

The Europol police agency has set itself the target of shutting down social media accounts associated with the militant group within two hours of them forming.

Despite such efforts on social media, no campaigns against IS websites have yet been announced by European or US law enforcement agencies.