Feeds

Direct action group defaces Vodafone in tax avoidance protest

UK Uncut scampers all over website

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

Anti-cuts group UK Uncut has hijacked a Vodafone website as part of a protest against alleged tax avoidance by the mobile phone giant.

UK Uncut boasted that it had taken over the blogs on the World of Difference website, a site that normally promotes Vodafone's corporate and social responsibility initiatives. The initiative makes small grants to charity programmes.

One of the groups that won a grant supplied UK Uncut with the login details necessary to access the site and carry out the defacement, which argued that Vodafone's contributions to the voluntary sector are small potatoes compared to the £6bn it has allegedly avoided paying in tax. Cuts against the voluntary sector imposed as part of the coalition government's spending clampdown might have been avoided if Vodafone was made to pay its taxes, according to UK Uncut.

Messages posted on Vodafone's website included photos and videos of UK Uncut's direct action protests at Vodafone stores, under the title Vodafone's Tax Dodge £6bn. Cuts to charities £5bn. Vodafone acted promptly to remove the defacement, which was first brought to our attention by tech-savvy political blogger Dizzy Thinks.

Dizzy notes that the hack might easily be considered a violation of the UK's anti-hacking laws. Direct action in cyberspace is certainly not immune from legal consequences, as members of Anonymous arrested for alleged attacks on financial service firms hostile to WikiLeaks would testify.

We asked UK Uncut what, if any, legal advice it took before carrying out its protest against Vodafone. We also asked if it had any concerns about the hack getting traced back to the people who gave it their password/login credentials.

UK Uncut's published mobile phone number goes straight through to voicemail, while an email auto-responder warns that it is receiving a large volume of inquiries, so it may be a while before we hear back from the group.

In a statement, Vodafone said the tax avoidance allegation was untrue. It criticised UK Uncut's protest as spreading "misinformation".

We've seen a couple of posts on World of Difference winners' blogs relating to allegations of tax avoidance. Given these are incorrect, they have been removed. World of Difference winners are doing great things for charities up and down the country. It's very sad to see how low people will go to further spread misinformation and for the charitable programme to be used as a platform for this kind of protest.

We asked Vodafone whether or not it intends to refer the matter to police but have yet to hear back on this point.

We'll update this story as and when we hear more from either UK Uncut or Vodafone. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.