updated 05:50 pm EST, Thu January 19, 2012
Anonymous carpet bombs Megaupload opponents
(Update: FBI too) The forced closure of Megaupload and accompanying arrests may have backfired on proponents after Anonymous launched one of its largest attacks ever in retaliation. Multiple statements from the hacking collective confirmed they were responsible for successful denial of service attacks against the websites of the Department of Justice, MPAA, RIAA, and likely arrest instigator Universal Music. All of the sites were partly or completely unresponsive as of early Thursday evening.
In clarifying the arrests, the DOJ had said that it had arrested key Megaupload member Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, as well as three others. Publicly, Megaupload had pointed to rapper Swizz Beats, husband to Alicia Keys, as its CEO.
Officials had cast Megaupload as an international crime conspiracy that was well aware that much of the content on its site was illegal. Dotcom allegedly made $42 million just in 2010 from the actions, which included racketeering charges. Megaupload, meanwhile, has always insisted that it was simple a file upload site that complied with takedown requests when they came about. The "vast majority" of its content was legal, it said.
Concerns have existed that the charges could set a precedent for a generic site by requiring that companies police their content more actively than just by responding to takedown orders. YouTube has at least temporarily fended off Viacom accusations that the video site profited off of piracy in its early years, but it also took active steps to get legal content and encouraged homemade video as part of its official goals.
It also raises questions about the necessity of bills like SOPA when alleged key sources of piracy with components outside of the US, such as Megaupload, can be taken down using existing laws.
Update: later Thursday night, the FBI's website also went down as part of the attacks.