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Vodafone site defaced as UK Uncut protests online

Self-proclaimed 'direct action group' UK Uncut has turned to Anonymous's tactics in its attempts to get Vodafone pay an estimated £6 billion of tax it has successfully avoided.

The group, which has previously found itself protesting outside Vodafone's high street stores, has turned to website defacement in an attempt to get its message across. At midday today, UK Uncut gained illicit access to the news post facility on Vodafone's 'World of Difference' website - a sub-site dedicated to corporate and social responsibility, ironically enough.

On this site, the group posted a new entry entitled 'Vodafone - Pay Your Tax,' in which the group airs its grievances against the firm and claims that the £6 billion of tax it has avoided paying has directly hurt charities and public services, which are facing £5 billion worth of budget cuts.

"Charities across the country are having funding slashed by up to £5bn by a government that claims there is no alternative to the cuts," the group proclaimed in its posting. "But Vodafone's unpaid tax bill on its own could cover every single cut to every single charity."

As well as the manifesto, the group included photos and videos featuring coverage of the group's direct action protests at Vodafone's high street stores along with details of charities that will find their funding cut should Vodafone not pay the tax that UK Uncut believes it owes.

The 'hijacking' of the site isn't, however, the result of some high-tech hack that bypasses the company's security systems. Rather, the group is using a valid account on the site, set up for the use of a group which received a grant under Vodafone's charity scheme. Feeling disgruntled at what was perceived to be a hypocritical approach to charitable work, an unnamed charity worker passed the login details on to UK Uncut.

While evidence of the posts still exist, Vodafone is currently working to remove it from the site. Titles and extracts can still be accessed via the 'About the Winners' section at the time of writing - but attempts to access the posts themselves result in error messages from Dare Digital, the company which operates the site on Vodafone's behalf.

Clearly, UK Uncut isn't above trying a bit of Anonymous-style cyber-vigilantism, but judging by the speed with which the posts have been removed the group needs a bit more practice.