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Hacktivist group Anonymous targets Costa Rican websites

February 27, 2013

The Iberoamerican branch of hacktivist group Anonymous warned in a statement on its website that Costa Rican websites will be targeted as a consequence of a computer and information crimes law that went into effect last November. The group claims the law “threatens citizens’ rights, press freedom, international agreements and the Costa Rican Constitution.”

 Anonymous said their actions against Tico websites were to begin last Monday and would continue until late March. Local media on Tuesday reported cyber attacks against some official websites such as the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) and the Education Ministry (MEP).

Alexánder Vargas, MEP’s  IT manager, said the ministry website had experienced some problems due to an unusual amount of user access attempts that swamped the server and kept the website down for two hours. “This could be attributed to a hacker attack, but no information was affected and the website did not suffer any damage,” he added. He also said that MEP’s IT staff had taken steps to prevent further problems.

ARESEP spokeswoman María Angélica Carvajal ruled out a hacker-related attack at that agency, saying the website’s minor problems on Monday were related to internal migration of data to a new host.

The “Computer Crimes Law,” known in Costa Rica as the “Ley Mordaza,” or gag law, was approved on July 9 last year when President Laura Chinchilla signed a reform establishing prison terms of four to eight years for those who “seek or obtain secret political information by unlawful means.”

Members of the press called the rule a gag law and demanded its repeal on the grounds that it constitutes a direct threat to freedom of access to information. According to the Costa Rican Journalists Association, “international jurisprudence is against jail terms for those who obtain correspondence by irregular means in matters of proven public interest, which would affect journalistic investigations.”

Last November, groups opposing the law held several protests in downtown San José.

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