Hackers protest BART decision to block cellphones
By John S. Marshall | Yahoo / AP
San Franciscoís mass transit system prepared for renewed protests Monday, a day after hackers angry over blocked cell phone service at some transit stations broke into a website and posted company contact information for more than 2,000 customers.
The action by a hacker group known as Anonymous was the latest showdown between anarchists angry at perceived attempts to limit free speech and officials trying to control protests that grow out of social networking and have the potential to become violent.
Anonymous posted peopleís names, phone numbers, and street and email addresses on its own website, while also calling for a disruption of the Bay Area Rapid Transitís evening commute Monday.
BART officials said Sunday that they were working a strategy to try to block any efforts by protesters to try to disrupt the service.
"We have been planning for the protests that are said to be shaping up for tomorrow," BART spokesman Jim Allison said. He did not provide specifics, but said BART police will be staffing stations and trains and that the agency had already contacted San Francisco police.
This screen shot taken from californiaavoaid.org, an organization sponsored by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), shows a page from the website after it and other BART-related sites were hacked by the hackerís group Anonymous on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. BART district officials said they were attempting Sunday to shut down the hackerís group website that lists the names of thousands of San Francisco Bay area residents who are email subscribers of myBART.org, a legitimate BART website. (AP Photo/californiaavoaid.org)
The transit agency disabled the effected website, myBART.org, Sunday night after it also had been altered by apparent hackers who posted images of the so-called Guy Fawkes masks that anarchists have previously worn when showing up to physical protests.
The cyber attack came in response to the BARTís decision to block wireless service in several of its San Francisco stations Thursday night as the agency aimed to thwart a planned protest over a transit police shooting. Officials said the protest had been designed to disrupt the evening commute.
"We are Anonymous, we are your citizens, we are the people, we do not tolerate oppression from any government agency," the hackers wrote on their own website. "BART has proved multiple times that they have no problem exploiting and abusing the people."
Allison described myBART.org as a "satellite site" used for marketing purposes. Itís operated by an outside company and sends BART alerts and other information to customers, Allison said.
The names and contact info published by Sunday came from a database of 55,000 subscribers, he said. He did not know if the group had obtained information from all the subscribers, he said, adding that no bank account or credit card information was listed.
The BART computer problem was the latest hack the loosely organized group claimed credit for this year. Last month, the FBI and British and Dutch officials made 21 arrests, many of them related to the groupís attacks on Internet payment provider PayPal Inc., which has been targeted over its refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks. The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
BARTís decision to shut down wireless access was criticized by many as heavy handed, and some raised questions about whether the move violated free speech.
The problems began Thursday night when BART officials blocked wireless access to disrupt organization of a demonstration protesting the July 3 shooting death by BART police who said the 45-year-old victim was wielding a knife.
Activists also remain upset by the 2009 death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black passenger who was shot by a white officer on an Oakland train platform. The officer quit the force and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after the shooting.
Facing backlash from civil rights advocates and one of its own board members, BART has defended the decision to block cell phone use, with Allison saying the cell phone disruptions were legal because the agency owns the property and infrastructure.
"Iím just shocked that they didnít think about the implications of this. We really donít have the right to be this type of censor," Lynette Sweet, who serves on BARTís board of directors, said previously. "In my opinion, weíve let the actions of a few people affect everybody. And thatís not fair."
Laura Eichman was among those whose email and home phone number were published by the hackers Sunday.
"I think what they (the hackers) did was illegal and wrong. I work in IT myself, and I think that this was not ethical hacking. I think this was completely unjustified," Eichman said.
She said she doesnít blame BART and feels its action earlier in the week of blocking cell phone service was reasonable.
"It doesnít necessarily keep me from taking BART in the future but I will certainly have to review where I set up accounts and what kind of data Iím going to keep online," Eichman said.
Michael Beekman of San Francisco told the AP that he didnít approve of BARTís move to cut cell phone service or the Anonymous posting.
"Iím not paranoid but i feel like it was an invasion of privacy," he said. "I thought I would never personally be involved in any of their (Anonymousí) shenanigans."
The group Anonymous, according to its website, does "not tolerate oppression from any government agency," and it said it was releasing the User Info Database of MyBart.gov as one of many actions to come.
"We apologize to any citizen that has his information published, but you should go to BART and ask them why your information wasnít secure with them," the statement said.
Japan and America agree to put giant fighting robots into battle 2015-07-06 20:02 Japan's Suidobashi accepts MegaBots' challenge of a duel, paving the way for robot wars on a grand scale
It's the moment we've all been waiting for: two giant fighting robots - one Japanese and one American - will square off in a melee one year from now.
That is, if the robots' two owners keep their word.
Last week, MegaBots, an American ...
Hillary Clinton is coming to Kansas City for the National Council of La Raza conference 2015-07-06 20:17
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will speak to the National Council of La Raza annual conference in Kansas City later this month.
The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady is scheduled to appear at the conference at the Kansas City Convention Center on Monday, July 13.
‚ÄúWe are thrilled that Secretary Clinton will join us to speak to the ...
Fires at Black Churches Do Not Appear to Be Linked, Racially Motivated: ATF 2015-07-06 20:44
A string of fires at black churches in Southern states have sparked concerns that racial friction has spiked in the aftermath of the racially-motivated mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Federal fire investigators are combing through the remains say they do not have enough evidence on hand to determine that the scattered incidents were racial attacks against the ...
As Greece Falls, Will Those With Gardens Survive? 2015-07-06 19:35
Greeks don't want austerity, but the future is bleak and unknown.
As of Friday, grocery shelves were being stripped bare of staple cooking goods, and pharmacies ran out of crucial medicines like thyroxine (thyroid treatment). More than half of those items are imported, but with banking plugs, companies are unable to pay suppliers. Things are frozen; stopped, and tens of thousands ...