It has become the rallying call of petitions, a new cause for celebrities, the subject of late night jokes, and has now finally found its way into technology news. The Florida Family Association (FFA) found its website had been hacked Tuesday. In its place was a message purportedly from the famous hacker group Anonymous stating that the group’s site “destroys free speech”.
The controversy began with the FFA opposing a new show on TLC called “All-American Muslim”, a reality show that follows the lives of a Muslim family being ordinary. The FFA took offense to the fact that the show did not portray Muslims as the bomb-wielding terrorists of their nightmares, calling the show “Anti-American” and “Islamic propaganda”.
This alone would not have been cause for concern, but as part of their protest, members of the FFA contacted advertisers and asked them to pull their commercials from the show. In a self-induced PR free-fall, Lowe’s did just that, which sparked protests from Muslims, activists, celebrities, and now anonymous hackers.
The hackers managed to expose the email addresses and IP addresses of 33 FFA newsletter subscribers and donors. They also listed credit card types and verification numbers of 13 members, as well as the usernames and passwords of three FFA administrators. According to the hacker, who identifies him or herself on Twitter as “ihazCAnNONz” the FFA promotes “hatred, bigotry and fear mongering towards gays, lesbians and most recently Muslim Americans.”
The Anonymous group has quickly gained notoriety for its take downs of many major websites involved in controversy, including DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on PayPal, Amazon, MasterCard, VISA, and more recently, the release of emails and documents from Bank of America, charging it with “fraud and corruption”.