Hacktivist group Anonymous will reportedly launch a "destructive" cyberattack against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website in protest of plans to dismantle net neutrality.
The loose collective of hackers and activists use distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) cyberattacks to overwhelm targeted websites or servers with traffic in order to take them offline.
On Thursday (14 December), FCC chairman Ajit Pai intends to repeal Obama-era legislation that ensures internet providers have to treat all data equally – not giving enhanced coverage, preferential treatment or manipulated search results to paying customers.
While Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, slammed the current law as anti-business, a slew of popular websites – including Reddit, Netflix, Kickstarter, Discord and BitTorrent – strongly opposed his plans.
On Tuesday (12 December), a Twitter account which circulates news about the hacktivist group tweeted: "Anonymous to begin 'destructive' cyberattack on FCC.gov for the next 48 hours in response to #NetNeutrality."
A number of accounts also linked to an ongoing protest dubbed "Break the Internet", which is tied to a well-known US digital rights organisation called Fight For The Future.
Other profiles shared a video showing an Anonymous broadcast, titled "Operation Free Net." Donning a now-traditional Guy Fawkes mask and cloaked voice, the figure promised action.
It said: "Don't just sit there and let [the FCC] take away your internet freedom. Do you part and we promise to do ours. Anonymous will monitor FCC websites, social media and email addresses.
"We will block and restrict access to websites through DDoS attacks and target those responsible should the FCC choose to move forward with the removal of net neutrality," the video continued, adding: "F*** with our internet and suffer the consequences. This is your only warning."
At the time of writing, the main FCC website was online and working as intended. Indeed, it was still advertising the 14 December vote, placed under the headline "Restoring Internet Freedom".
As the date approaches, many online activists (and celebrities who rallied to support the cause) warn that if net neutrality laws are repealed, internet providers will have the power to abuse the web.
Previous attempts to dismantle the US law resulted in widespread protests and petitions.
On 11 December, The Verge reported that the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had already compiled a draft agreement about how they will work together after net neutrality is gone.