Anonymous attacks US conservative group's website

Anonymous, the loose-knit, WikiLeaks-loving collective of online 'hacktivists' launched an attack that downed the site of US conservative group Americans For Prosperity yesterday.

The DDoS, or 'distributed denial of service' attack brought down AFP's website, and follows a series of attacks on prominent US targets including Amazon, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, over the companies' withdrawal of services from whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks.

Anonymous replaced the site's homepage with a press release (since removed, but available to read here), addressed to the 'Citizens of the United States of America'.

In it, Anonymous attacked the group's multi-billionaire backers, stating: "It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch - the billionaire owners of Koch Industries - have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back."

The press release highlighted a clause in recent Wisconsin state legislation that, according to Anonymous, "would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process".

It went on to accuse the brothers of backing the bill "to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions".

"The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating 'grassroots' organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods," the press release continued.

The statement concluded with a call to consumers in the US and Europe to boycott products made by companies owned by the Koch Industries group, including brands familiar to UK consumers such as the toilet paper Nouvelle Soft.

AFP soon hit back with a press release of its own. In it, AFP president Tim Phillips accused Anonymous of attempting to stifle debate, insisting that his organisation "will not be intimidated", and calling on groups across the political spectrum to condemn the attack.