The Anonymous group threatened to bring down the Sony PlayStation network due to the technology giant's support for the proposed US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
In a video uploaded during the Christmas period, Anonymous said Sony's support for the act was "a signed death warrant to Sony Company and associates" and threatened to destroy the network and "dismantle your phantom from the internet".
It said: “Sony you have been warned, to those doubting our powers we have infiltrated the servers of Bank of America, the US department of defence [sic], the United Nations and Lockheed Martin.”
However, Anonymous now appears to have refrained from threats to take down the network, after previous attacks caused uproar among users, to shift to threatening the executives and sites of Sony and Nintendo.
According to playstationlifestyle.net, actions will now focus on gaining personal information (doxing) on Sony executives and posting it online, as well as defacing Sony websites with an anti-SOPA twist, and placing links to copyrighted material.
The video also "declared that our fury be brought" against singers Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, and celebrity Kim Kardashian, "for their approval to [sic] SOPA".
The act is designed to expand the ability of US law enforcement agencies and copyright holders to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.
It would make unauthorised streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten pieces of music or movies within six months. The bill also gives immunity to internet service providers that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents a website dedicated to infringement.
Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, while opponents say that it infringes on First Amendment rights and its censorship will cripple the internet and threaten whistle-blowing and free speech.
It has been criticised by technology companies including Rackspace, whose CEO Lanham Napier said that SOPA "would require that Rackspace and other internet service providers censor their customers with little in the way of due process" and "would seriously disrupt the Domain Name Service that is crucial to the smooth operation of the web".
Andrew Lee, CEO of ESET North America, also said SOPA would have "serious implications for the domain name system". He said: “I am of the opinion that the DNS filtering proposed in SOPA and PIPA would seriously undermine that integrity. That's why I think these bills, as currently written, are bad for the internet and bad for our economy.
“In addition to a number of technical issues that others have documented in detail, the DNS filtering proposed in SOPA and PIPA appears to be at odds with the sterling efforts of United States law enforcement agencies that are leading the world in the fight against cyber crime. Together with many of my colleagues in a wide range of hi-tech companies, I urge Congress to think again.”