Reliance net users who tried to access popular services like Facebook and Twitter were in for a rude shock on Saturday, when they were instead redirected to a page containing a strongly worded statement against attempts by the Indian government to censor the Internet.
The message read,
"Anonymous REVENGE / WE OWN YOU
Told you not to mess with free speech and lesser with Anonymous
Government of India, you know what you did wrong. you caused out twitter account to be blocked now we will show you what anonymous is capable of doing.
We give you 24Hours at maximum to give our twitter account back and apologize
Give @OpIndia_Revenge BACK
We will unleash hell and shiver on you
Greeting government of India, you were bad really bad. One of the worst governments the world has. Yet we tried our best not to go too tough on you, and then you decided to cross over us, bad guys bad idea.
We tried to do a slow, non violent protest and government decided to cover out mouths we will not sit idle while our freedom is take away. We will continue our non-violent protest and guess what you will never beat us, ever.
When we started to speak truth, the government of India forced our online twitter account @Opindia_revenge to be suspended."
The Twitter account @OpIndia_Revenge which is referred to in the statement, is owned by Anonymous India. On Friday the group had put a list of websites and links that were allegedly blocked on RCom network even though there was no legal mandate for them to do so.
The attack on the RCom DNS servers comes on the back of a series of hacker attacks on Indian websites, purportedly by Anonymous. Last week it attacked a number of government websites including that of the Supreme Court of India, after the Madras High Court passed an order blocking file sharing sites, and even video sharing sites like Vimeo. It also attacked Reliance's Big Cinema webpage.
The Madras High Court order has generated a great deal of anger among India's online community, who have described it as a short sighted attempt by the courts and entertainment companies to censor something that they do not fully understand. The blanket ban takes no heed of open copyright licenses such as Creative Commons, under which millions of users share their work with one another. It also stops people who have uploaded content on to these sites from accessing their own content. (Read more about how the ban works here)
In the wake of the attack on the RCom servers, media agencies who tried to talk to Reliance had to be satisfied with the vague response, "Reliance Communications refused to comment on the blocking of websites. “We have investigated the matter and confirm that all RCOM servers and websites are intact and have required preventive measures in place for intrusions".
Anonymous, which is a loosely strung collective of hackers has traditionally fought what can be best described as 'virtual guerilla' wars against what it perceives to be organized attempts to take away Internet freedom. Most prominently in 2010, it launched an operation called "Avenge Assange" in which it attacked the websites of thousands of online payment gateways that blocked users from contributing to the Wikileaks foundation. In 2009, it launched an alternative site for Iranians angered by the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to vent their frustrations and organize protests.
It has also attacked websites of the Malaysian government, Sony Entertainment and the Syrian defence ministry website. (Read more on Anonymous attacks here)