Centre for Internet & Society

The cyber crime wing has formed special teams to nab the hackers who attacked and stole data from the Tamil Nadu police website.

The article was published in the Times of India on July 11, 2012. Pranesh Prakash is quoted.

"We have submitted a formal complaint to trace the hacker," said additional director general of police (ADGP-State Crime Records Bureau) Ashish Bhengra after a high-level meeting on Tuesday led by director general of Police K Ramanujam. The meeting discussed the precautionary steps to prevent similar incidents.

The hacktivist collective Anonymous said on Tuesday that they hacked the TN police's website to protest internet censorship by the government of India. On July 8, the group released a set of files containing complaints made by public to the TN police and action taken by officials. "This is less about TN police and more about a continuing protest," said members of the group in an internet relay chat to TOI. The group said apart from certain Internet service providers, the government continued to censor the internet.

"If our protest is not respected for the very real and constitutional questions it raises, then we throw more and more areas open where wrongdoing may be found," said a member.

The group's India wing posted links to the leaked documents under its Twitter handle 'opindia_revenge' on Sunday night. The files show a range of complaints filed by the public -- from fleecing of passengers by autorickshaw drivers, property disputes, grouses from police personnel and instances of missing mobile phones and people. The complaints have been filed from across Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, and even places such as Uttarakhand and Kuwait.

The group has redacted phone numbers and email ids in some cases but has left other data like name and address. The documents also have details of action taken by the police -- from forwarding the case to the respective police station to digging up information on accused persons.

Anonymous India, which has done a series of virtual sit-ins on government and corporate websites, has only a few high-profile hacking operations in India. In May, it hacked the servers of Reliance Communications, preventing users from accessing social media websites. The group also released a list of websites that were allegedly blocked by Reliance. The group started attacking official websites to protest what it called 'censorship' of the internet that snowballed after a Madras High Court 'John Doe' order to prevent movie piracy. Anonymous also organised a protest march on June 9 at various Indian cities.

However, the latest attack inconveniences public and damages the cause, said users. "Anonymous consists of a large bunch of activists who gained some credibility in India after they organised offline protests. But this operation doesn't serve any purpose and brings down their credibility as details of those who filed complaints have been revealed," said Pranesh Prakash, lawyer and programme manager at The Centre for Internet and Society, a Bangalore-based research organisation.

According to a member of Anonymous, people are afraid of thinks that they are not aware of. "Some were angry at us for leaking data from Reliance. But if criticism is justified, we will make sure it doesn't happen again," said the member.

Filed under: