Internet hacking group Anonymous has petitioned the Obama administration to make DDoS attacks legal.
Using the online petition form at the official White House website, Anonymous argues the cyberattack, which cripples websites and takes them offline by flooding their servers with useless data, is not hacking but a legitimate form of protest.
A DDoS attack “is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage,” Anonymous writes in its petition. “It is, in that way, no different than any ‘Occupy’ protest.
“Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.”
Anonymous has used DDoS attacks as part of various political and ideological campaigns in the past. Websites for the Zimbabwe government were taken out by the group using the tactic in January 2011. “Operation Payback” was unleashed back in December 2010 on government and corporate websites that helped in the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Governments also use the technique in cyber warfare against other nations. Currently, Iran is suspected of using sophisticated DDoS attacks to cripple major American banking websites.
DDoS attacks are illegal in America under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, with punishments up to to 20 years in prison and heavy fines. The cyberattack is also outlawed in other countries, including Great Britain.
The Anonymous petition calls for “those who have been jailed for DDoS should be immediatly [sic] released and have anything regarding a DDoS, that is on their ‘records’, cleared.”
As of this writing, the petition has 735 signatures. It needs 25,000 by February 6 for the White House to respond.