San Francisco's transport group BART suffers major attack and data leak by Anonymous over the weekend following controversial decision to shut down mobile phone services.
The action against Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) site mybart.org began after the network shut down mobile phone services to disrupt planned demonstrations over a police shooting. Data including thousands of names, email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers were hacked and published online.
A statement by Anonymous said that it people in the Bay Area were 'gagged' and that the action named #OpBART was an attempt 'to show those engaging in the censorship what it feels like to be silenced'.
It said: “You do not censor people because they wish to speak out against the wrongs and the wrongful things occurring around them. BART has made the conscious decision of ordering various cell phone companies to terminate services for the down town area inhibiting those in the area from using cell phones, even in the case of an emergency.”
In a message to BART, it said: “We will not tolerate censorship. We will do everything in our power to parallel the actions of censorship that you have chosen to engage in. We will be free to speak out against you when you try to cover up crimes, namely on behalf of those who have engaged in violence against a mostly unarmed public.
“We will set those who have been censored free from their silence. That's a promise. Anonymous demands that this activity revolving around censorship ceases and desists and we know you are already planning to do this again. We will not issue any more warnings.”
A BART statement posted on Sunday morning said that it was 'disappointed' to announce that the BART website may be subject to an online attack, as the action will directly affect customers and the developers who use BART's open data services to serve BART customers.
It said: “We're doing what we can to defend against any attack on the BART website. BART's website infrastructure is wholly separate from any computer network involved in the operation of BART service. In the event that bart.gov is not available or working as you'd expect, we encourage you to use the 511.org website for alternative transit information.”
An initial statement by BART said that it 'temporarily interrupted service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform' after it found that organisers 'planning to disrupt BART services on August 11th stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police'.
It said: “A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators.
“Cell phone service was not interrupted outside BART stations. In addition, numerous BART police officers and other BART personnel with radios were present during the planned protest and train intercoms and white courtesy telephones remained available for customers seeking assistance or reporting suspicious activity.”
Blogger Jacob Appelbaum, who tweeted about the situation over the weekend, said on his Twitter feed that ‘the info that BART keeps on people is beyond what is required to properly run the service'. He said: “It seems that these attacks by Anonymous will likely spill lots of data that should never be collected in the first place.”