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Anonymous readies fresh attacks against Uganda over anti-homosexuality bill

Members of the Ugandan Parliament have pledged to pass their anti-homosexuality bill before the end of the year. Anonymous is attempting to stop them.

Anonymous is preparing for its second round of cyber-attacks against the Government of Uganda protesting the country’s anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) legislation that would punish those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment.

Last November, a provision in the bill that allowed the death penalty against those convicted was removed. 

However, Ugandan Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has pledged to pass the law by the end of the year as a “Christmas gift” to the bill’s advocates. 

Some factions within the Anonymous hacker collective have taken a keen interest in the case of Uganda’s discriminatory legislation against LGBTs for a host of complicated reasons. 

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As press coverage of Uganda’s anti-LGBT attitudes gained more global visibility, the provocative gay-bashing headlines in the media attracted the gaze of the internet. Given the headlines’ outlandish use of derogatory phrases, many sectors of the internet, including Anonymous, found them to be humorous.

More from GlobalPost: ITU debate centers on complicated legal definitions, not UN internet takeover

But as internet denizens realized that the anti-homosexuality bill would allow the Ugandan government to carry out the death penalty against LGBTs found guilty of homosexuality, the mood within some factions of Anonymous became more somber. 

Standing against what one Anonymous member called “bullying and scapegoating”, last August the collective hacked and vandalized the website belonging to Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

It was after this cyber-attack that the provision for the death penalty was removed from the bill.

“Although the clauses of the new law that allowed for the death penalty have since, seemingly, been removed, Anonymous cannot simply stand by and watch a government punish its citizens with life imprisonment for simply living their lives the way they see fit, without hurting those around them,” said sebastianowl, a moniker used by one member of Anonymous who identified himself as the voice of Operation Uganda.

Before the end of the year, Anonymous has pledged to carry out an even more damaging cyber-attack against the Ugandan government. 

“…At last count nine different government sites and maybe a half dozen larger commercial sites have been compromised,” said sebastianowl. 

More from GlobalPost: Can the ITU really contain the internet?

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“I am hoping that before New Year we will have another round of defacements and/or data releases,” he added, hoping to gain, “publicity for the situation in Uganda, embarrassment for the Ugandan government and an assertion of Anonymous’ ability to carry out Ops at will.”

Anonymous claims to have access to government websites belonging to the Ugandan Justice, Law and Order Sector, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the Uganda Biodiversity Information Facility, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and the Health Service Commission among others.

As proof of their access, data for 3,000 users taken from Ugandan sites was provided to GlobalPost by those involved in the operation. 

While there is no clear ideology or set of beliefs espoused by the amorphous and multifaceted hacker collective, Anonymous does in many cases stand against what they deem to be authoritarianism.

“I think it is safe to say that Anonymous represents a healthy dose of anti-authoritarianism and skepticism,” said sebastianowl. 

The collective is also hoping to prove to the Ugandan government that they have not properly defended against further cyber-attacks as they stated shortly after last August’s launch of Operation Uganda. Freely admitting to their own self-interested reasons in continuing their campaign against Uganda, Anonymous also hopes to prove to the world that the global hacker collective is not something that can be easily defended against or written off as a minor nuisance. 

As with most operations carried out by Anonymous – their motivation in doing so is complex. While it may include reasons of activism, idealism and anti-authoritarianism, there is one motivation that appears more prominently than others. 

“Releases of data, defacements and all around lulz will be forthcoming…” said sabastianowl. 

The lulz, as usual, are omnipresent.