Feeds

Critics split over DDoS attacks on Scientology

Xenu phobia

Reducing security risks from open source software

Websites associated with the Church of Scientology are intermittently unavailable today after an internet group calling itself Anonymous declared war on the controversial organisation.

In a statement posted via video on YouTube and through various internet sites Anonymous claimed its actions were designed to safeguard the right to freedom of speech against assaults by the Church of Scientology. It also wants to curtail what it claims is the financial exploitation of church members and aims to "systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology" in its present form.

Anonymous justifys its actions by alleging the Church of Scientology has misused copyright and trademark law in censoring criticism against the church. The campaign was sparked off by the church's attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from YouTube. The clip features a video from Cruise's Freedom Medal ceremony from late 2004 in which the actor speaks with (frankly scary) intensity about the responsibilities of being a Scientologist.

After the Church of Scientology lodged a copyright infringement complaint YouTube pulled the video, but the material has since resurfaced on Gawker.com which has stated it will not remove the video.

Anonymous has a broader agenda beyond attacking Church of Scientology web sites. As well as directing sympathisers to download and use denial of service software, the group calls on its members to make nuisance calls, host Scientology documents the Church claims as protected by copyright, and fax black pages to the Church's fax machines in an effort to waste ink.

The Church of Scientology has a long history of conflict with Internet groups. Back in 1995, for example, lawyers acting for the Church of Scientology attempted to get the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup pulled from Usenet. The bid backfired, instead serving to increase the popularity of the a.r.s. newsgroup and leading to a declaration of war by noted hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow - a conflict that became known as "Scientology versus the Internet".

Although the Church is known for playing hardball with critics, long-standing Scientology critics have decried Anonymous's tactics.

Andreas Heldal-Lund, the founder of Operation Clambake, a non-profit organisation critical of Scientology, said that it was hypocritical to uphold freedom of speech while denying it to the Church itself.

"Attacking Scientology like that will just make them play the religious persecution card. They will use it to defend their own counter-actions when they try to shatter criticism and crush critics without mercy," he said.

"Freedom of speech means we need to allow all to speak - including those we strongly disagree with. I am of the opinion that the Church of Scientology is a criminal organisation and a cult which is designed by its delusional founder to abuse people. I am still committed to fight for their right to speak their opinion," he added. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.