Factions within the Anonymous hacker collective have targeted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to defend against what they claim is an attempt by the organization to silence anonymous online criticism with legal threats.
Pursuant to a defamation lawsuit, PETA filed a petition to the State Supreme Court of New York on May 23 demanding the Huffington Post provide “identifying information” of three user accounts that had commented on the media organization's website. The comments that PETA says are defamatory appeared on an article that reported the death of hundreds of cats and dogs at the hands of the animal rights organization — yes, you read that right.
The identifying information PETA is seeking includes IP addresses and their corresponding physical addresses. Anonymous has now joined the fray in defense of those commenters' right to remain unknown, countering PETA's legal challenge with "OpPETA."
One Anon involved with OpPETA told GlobalPost that all options against the rights group are being considered, including hacking their website, launching a denial of service (DDoS) attack, and revealing the private information of PETA officials associated with the case.
Anonymous says they’re waging OpPETA in defense of individuals who lack the resources to fight an expensive legal battle.
“This kind of legal maneuver is typical of corporations and organizations who cannot accept opposing viewpoints and think freedom of speech and online anonymity are merely inconveniences to be dealt with by high powered and expensive lawyers and huge piles of cash,” one Anon involved in OpPETA said in a statement.
“This Op is not against animal rights, it is against the cynical manipulation of well meaning people to fund lawsuits and advertising that do nothing but advance the agenda of PETA,” the statement read.
“It is time PETA was reminded that Anonymous does not forgive or forget those who oppose free speech and will not stand for legal threats against those voicing legitimate criticisms.”