Anonymous Hackers Overreacting to Acta Policies - Analyst
Image Credit: AnonOps / IBTimes UK

Security experts have criticised the Anonymous collective's reaction to the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), describing it as premature.

Speaking to the International Business Times UK Sophos analyst Graham Cluley said that Anonymous' insistence that Acta will put in place controversial measures granting authorities powers similar to those seen in the US Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property (Pipa) acts is premature.

"Whereas SOPA and PIPA are proposed US legislation (but with the ability to impact those of outside America), ACTA is an attempt to get international agreement in the fight against copyright infringement," commented Cluley.

Later clarifying: "Many of the initial provisions of ACTA (a broad ban on tools which can be used for copyright infringement, a "three strikes" rule forcing ISPs to disconnect repeat offenders, etc) have been dropped or watered down, there is still some concern that ACTA could lead to online censorship and the loss of internet freedom."

Though official information is scarce, most media outlets have taken the act's primary focus to be on dealing with the counterfeit of physical goods, such as medicine. Yet, other groups have taken the act as having a darker side, arguing it will also include measures pertaining to the distribution and sharing of information online.

Currently set to be ratified by the European Union, numerous member states including Ireland have already joined the US, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Canada in supporting Acta.

Despite the lack of public awareness, numerous protests have already been enacted against Acta. Most recently a large demonstration was mounted in Poland to protest the government's Acta support.

Anonymous initially attacked Acta on Monday, issuing a series of tweets attacking it. "Forget SOPA, Europe is about to ratify its bigger brother ACTA," read one statement from YourAnonNews. "You have acted against #SOPA & #PIPA now is the time to act against #ACTA. Charge your laz0rz! Keep them on stand-by mode! #Anonymous," Anon_Central followed up.

After the initial barrage of anti-Acta statements the collective's comments took a darker tone, with Anonymous' central AnonOps Twitter feed indicating hackers had already taken action. "#ActAgainstACTA - News about an #Anonymous huge operation soon >>," read AnonOps' tweet.

The latest call to arms comes as a part of Anonymous' ongoing campaign against internet censorship. Though always a common theme in the collective's statements, the campaign escalated at the end of 2011 when Anonymous publicly attacked the US Stop Online Piracy (Sopa) and Protect intellectual Property (Pipa) acts.

Designed to combat online piracy, the two now defunct acts came under wide-spread criticism, with numerous groups voicing concerns about the new powers the act could grant US law enforcement.

As well as using its Twitter feeds to publicise the 18 Januay blackout protest, Anonymous also took a more direct approach, publishing the the names and decisions of US Congressman participating in the vote on Pastebin.

The promised anti-Acta attack would not be the first anti-censorship campaign mounted by Anonymous in Europe. Prior to it, Anonymous had mounted similar anti-censorship campaigns in Finland and the Netherlands protesting blocks to the Pirate Bay website.

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