We haven’t seen much in the way of legal trouble for Anonymous members since early December when a Dutch teen was arrested for his part in the WikiLeaks defense attacks against MasterCard and other companies that had refused services related to the website, but that doesn’t mean that authorities haven’t been hard at work for the past six weeks.
On Thursday, five more Anonymous members were detained by British police in a series of early morning raids. London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has released a statement confirming that two adult males and three teenage boys were arrested for allegedly violating the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 as a result of an ongoing international investigation into the group’s activities.
“The five males aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26 are being held after a series of coordinated arrests at residential addresses. The arrests are in relation to recent and ongoing ‘distributed denial of service’ attacks (DDoS) by an online group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’,” the MPS statement says. “They are part of an ongoing MPS investigation into Anonymous which began last year following criminal allegations of DDoS attacks by the group against several companies. This investigation is being carried out in conjunction with international law enforcement agencies in Europe and the US.”
Although it was not specified which companies the five detained males are accused of attacking, these arrests are also thought to be connected to the Wikileaks-related DDoS strikes.
These guys may be looking at more than just a “slap on the wrist” if convicted. British law states that “any unauthorized act in relation to a computer” is a criminal offense, which can carry an $8000 fine and up to 10 years in jail.
This should serve as a reminder that while the intention of staging this type of activism may be to help an organization or group of people in need, there are very real and serious legal consequences that can result. The large network of people involved, along with identity masking software can make you more difficult for authorities to track down, but there’s still a possibility of being singled out and identified. I predict that we will see many more of these types of arrests over the next several months as the international investigations continue.