Activists from the hacker collective Anonymous dismantled the Texas Republican Party website to protest a restrictive law that has the effect to ban most abortions.
The SB8 law, which entered into force on September 1, 2021, prohibits abortions at approximately six weeks. The enforcement mechanism provided for by law allows any private citizen to prosecute “anyone” who performs such abortions, or “aids or encourages” them.
The law blocks access to a valued 85-90% of abortion services provided by the medical system, and makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The law was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans in Texas and signed by Republican state governor Greg Abbott. In response, Anonymous announcement a campaign, dubbed “Operation Jane,” to make unnecessary data collected in efforts to report abortions.
As part of this campaign, anonymous hackers took down the Texas GOP website and replaced it with, among other things, an X-rated image of a man stretching his anus. (There is a archived version of the hacked site, but watch with caution: it’s graphic.) The hackers also replaced the state’s GOP mission statement with one that read, in part, “WE REALLY REALLY LOVE THE SERVANT’S TALE AND WISH TO PUT IT IN. IN UVRE AT THE FULLEST. SOCCER!!!!!!”
Texas Republicans recognized vandalism with a statement on their website claiming it prompted them to step up their online security. The statement was accompanied by fields for website visitors to enter their payment card information and make a donation. The statement reads, in part, “Stand with us now against these cybercriminals and their brazen attacks by rushing a contribution to strengthen our digital defenses.” “
Just days after the law came into effect, a website launched by anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life to report abortions that violate the new law was created. offline by domain host GoDaddy after a campaign of public pressure.
Anonymous is a loose collective, as the name suggests, of anonymous cyber activists who emerged at the end of the years to support popular protest movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. They are known to make disturbing videos addressed to their hacking targets ending with the phrase “Wait for us” and bearing Guy Fawkes masks to conceal their identity.
Presence of anonymous sharp during the Occupy Wall Street protests, in 2011 and 2012, but passed away after a series of high-profile events arrests. They started to make their presence known again after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in May 2020.
Beran, Dale. “The return of the anonymous. The Atlantic, August 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/08/hacker-group-anonymous-returns/615058/.
“George Floyd: Anonymous hackers reappear amid unrest in the United States.” BBC News, June 1, 2020. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52879000.
Hollister, Sean. “GoDaddy cut Texas Right to Life’s abortion ‘whistleblower’ website, and he could be gone. The Verge, September 3, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/3/22656196/godaddy-texas-right-for-life-abortion-whistleblowing-site.
Nowlin, Sanford. “Anonymous hacks the Texas Republican Party website in retaliation for the state’s abortion ban. San Antonio Stream, September 13, 2021, https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2021/09/13/anonymous-hacks-texas-republican-party-website-in-retaliation-for- states- abortion-ban.