Online hacktivist organization Anonymous has threatened to carry out cyber attacks directed at the United States Federal Communications Commission in response to the agency’s expected vote to repeal net neutrality protections Thursday.
The disperse collection of hackers and activists have reportedly been planning a “destructive” cyber attack against the agency that will continue over the course of the day. It is not clear if the group’s attack has any effect on the agency.
“Anonymous will continue its cyber attack on the FCC for the entire day in response to Net Neutrality vote,” a Twitter account associated with the group tweeted.
Typically, cyber attacks carried out by Anonymous utilize distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which use machines and “bots” to direct massive amounts of web traffic at a target. The attack, when successful, can knock a victim’s server offline or make it inaccessible to others who are providing legitimate traffic.
Other accounts online shared a video of a reported Anonymous broadcast called “Operation Free Net.” In it, a person claiming to be a member of the hacktivist group—disguised behind a Guy Fawkes mask—called for action against the FCC.
“Don’t just sit there and let [the FCC] take away your internet freedom. Do you part and we promise to do ours. Anonymous will monitor FCC websites, social media and email addresses,” the person in the video said.
“We will block and restrict access to websites through DDoS attacks and target those responsible should the FCC choose to move forward with the removal of net neutrality,” the video continued. “Fuck with our internet and suffer the consequences. This is your only warning.”
On Wednesday, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted Wednesday that the internet service in the FCC building was down for a period of time. “I think we can call this some fierce irony: internet service is currently down at the FCC,” she wrote. “I think the ruckus is happening.”
It is unclear if the efforts of Anonymous were in any way related to Anonymous’ supposed cyber attack. The group did not directly claim responsibility for the reported outage and there was no indication that the FCC suffered from a denial of service attack.
On Thursday, the FCC will take up a vote that would repeal an Obama-era rule that allows the agency to protect net neutrality—a principle that requires all data to be treated as equal. Net neutrality consists of three bright line rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking legal content, throttling or slowing internet speeds and offering paid prioritization that favors certain services.
The rule, passed in 2015 as part of the Open Internet Order, give the FCC regulatory levers to enforce those the principles of net neutrality. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed to the position by President Donald Trump, intends to repeal the rule with his proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order.