Hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility Wednesday for targeting several Canadian government websites. The group said it launched the attacks to protest Canada’s new anti-terrorism bill, which allegedly empowers surveillance and security forces to monitor people's private communications.
Canada’s Treasury Board President Tony Clement confirmed that the government of Canada’s servers were attacked on Wednesday. The main canada.ca website, the justice, public works and government services websites, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) site were taken offline, following the attack.
Several websites were back online Wednesday night, and officials were working to restore the rest. “We are working very diligently to restore service as soon as possible, and to find out the origination of the attack,” Clement said, according to Global News.
Anonymous also posted a YouTube video on Wednesday, calling on Canadian citizens to defend their rights by carrying out street protests against the bill. “Greetings citizens of Canada, we are Anonymous,” a masked person says in the video. “Today, this 17th of June, 2015 we launched an attack against the Canadian Senate and Government of Canada websites in protest against the recent passing of Bill C-51, a bill which is a clear violation of the universal declaration of human rights.
“We now ask that you follow suit. Stand for your rights, take to the streets in protest this 20th of June 2015. Disregard these laws which are unjust, even illegal,” the person continues. It ends with a footage showing protesters from Europe and Canada wearing Guy Fawkes masks, a common symbol for the hacker group.
The anti-terrorism bill, C-51, which expands the authority of government and police agencies and the CSIS, passed the senate earlier in June, and has been condemned by opposition groups, journalists and civil rights activists. Government departments will be able to privately share information about individual citizens or visitors that are deemed to be a potential threat to national security. The bill also criminalizes any communications which support terrorism “in general,” which critics say is overly broad and could apply to unrelated internet communications.
The bill was criticized in January by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, who said: "This Act would seemingly allow departments and agencies to share the personal information of all individuals, including ordinary Canadians who may not be suspected of terrorist activities, for the purpose of detecting and identifying new security threats. It is not clear that this would be a proportional measure that respects the privacy rights of Canadians."