Anonymous has hacked into police and government websites before, and it has also illegally obtained the personal information of innocent bystanders before.
This time, the self-proclaimed "hacktivist" group has taken things to a new level that makes things very dangerous for the culprits should they get caught.
Anonymous claimed on Wednesday that some of its members hacked into the website of San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police, releasing personal information about 102 BART police officers. That information, which is still on PasteBin as of 12:25PM PT, includes home addresses, e-mail addresses, and passwords.
The hacker group, which has claimed responsibility for hacking into Sony's PlayStation Network and a website belonging to the Spanish national police force earlier this year, got involved with this situation after controversy brewed when BART shut off cell and wireless service in four downtown San Francisco subway stations (but not outside the stations) amidst another protest over a fatal shooting involving a BART police officer.
Thus, Anonymous did what it does best and hacked into BART-related websites. The group also wrangled followers together and called for another protest on Monday that effectively shut down three downtown BART subway stations. The protest lasted approximately 90 minutes during rush hour, preventing hundreds (if not thousands) of people from being able to get anywhere in a timely fashion. (I, myself, was grudgingly stuck in between stations as they closed while simply trying to go home.)
Anonymous is calling for yet another round of protests on Monday, August 22. The FCC is also launching an investigation as many are questioning the legality of BART's move to prohibit cell phone service within its stations.
BART officials say they were still within their legal rights and acted proactively to prevent the situation from getting out of hand after BlackBerry Messenger (as well as Facebook and Twitter) was used in a similar fashion during the riots in the United Kingdom last week.
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