Hactivism collective Anonymous appears to be learning some small degree of responsibility, announcing that it won't be releasing e-mails obtained from The Sun and being similarly circumspect about an apparent breach of NATO's security.
Anonymous and the closely allied LulzSec groups targeted News Corp. following the allegations that reporters from The News of The World illegally accessed and deleted voicemails of celebrities and crime victims, including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
After taking down the company's websites and forwarding visitors to a fake story regarding the demise of News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, the group claimed it had obtained a vast quantity of internal e-mails from the organisation.
Many have been looking forward to the impending release of the documents, hoping to find evidence of complicity in the phone hacking scandal by the likes of Rupert and James Murdoch or ex-editor Rebbeca Brooks. Those hopes appear to have been dashed however, as the group has claimed it doesn't want to jeopardise the ongoing criminal investigation.
"We know, you want mailz," the group posted to one of its Twitter accounts earlier today. "You can haz mail soon," it promised, before changing its mind abruptly a few minutes ago.
"We think, actually we may not release emails from The Sun," the group explained, "simply because it may compromise the court case."
To make up for the lack of News Corp. e-mails, the group posted a PDF of a restricted NATO financial document from 2007. "Yes, NATO was breached," the group claimed. "And we have lots of restricted material. In the next days, wait for interesting data." Further messages made reference to "some simple injection," suggesting that a NATO server has fallen to an SQL injection attack carried out by the group.
However, even that data might not be seeing the light of day. "We are sitting on about one gigabyte of data from NATO now," the group crowed, "most of which we cannot publish as it would be irresponsible."
It's surprising to hear Anonymous speak of responsibility: in the past, the group's actions have directly led to passwords and even credit card details of customers from companies including Sony being made public. The sudden attack of conscience appears to have come remarkably close to the reported arrest of 16 individuals connected with Anonymous across the US by the FBI.
Whether the new responsible Anonymous is here to stay or a minor abberation remains to be seen, but for those keen to get an inside glimpse into the workings of News Corp. the timing of the group's maturation must surely come as a bitter blow.