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'Protest' hits Home Office website

The Home Office website has gone down after an apparent cyber attack in protest against Government surveillance plans.

A message on the site said the page was currently unavailable "due to a high volume of traffic", suggesting a denial of service attack had been perpetrated.

A message on Twitter claiming to be from Anonymous, a loosely organised group of hackers, said the action was "for your draconian surveillance proposals".

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are aware of some reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of an online protest. We have put all potential measures in place and will be monitoring the situation very closely."

The Home Office added that if a successful denial of service attempt did occur, it would "liaise with the technical team and update as necessary".

A denial of service attack prevents a website from functioning properly, sometimes by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle. Such an action was believed to have been responsible for crashing the Home Office site.

The apparent attack came after it emerged last week that the Government was planning a massive expansion of its powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK.

Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ - the Government's electronic "listening" agency - to examine "on demand" any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed, in "real time" without a warrant.

Ministers have faced a backlash over the plans, with senior MPs from both coalition parties, as well as civil liberties groups, lining up to denounce it.

The move has been condemned by opponents as an


From Belfast Telegraph