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Hackers target PBS over WikiLeaks documentary

A group of hackers have hijacked PBS's news website, taking it over to post a fake news story in retaliation for a recent 'Frontline' investigative doc the network aired on WikiLeaks.
May 31, 2011

A group of hackers have hijacked PBS’s news website, taking it over to post a fake news story in retaliation for a recent ‘Frontline’ investigative doc the network aired on WikiLeaks.

A group calling itself ‘LulzSec’ and ‘The Lulz Boat’ claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter, which saw the posting of a fake news story claiming that late rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand. The story has since been taken down.

PBS said today that three of its websites – Frontline, NewsHour and PBS – were still under attack by hackers, adding that it was attempting to resume normal service.

A PBS spokeswoman said that the hackers had also stolen login information for two internal PBS sites – one that media use to access the PBS press room and an internal communications website for stations – adding that all affected parties were being notified.

On Twitter, the hackers claimed the attack was retribution for the network’s recently aired doc WikiSecrets, which covered Julian Assange, whistleblowers’ site WikiLeaks and the controversy surrounding Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who has been charged with unlawfully transmitting sensitive diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

In a statement, Frontline executive producer David Fanning said the attack was an “irresponsible” attempt to chill independent journalism.

“We see it as a disappointing and irresponsible act,” he said. “We have been very open to publishing criticism of the film, and the film itself included multiple points of view. Rather than engaging in that spirit, this is an attempt to chill independent journalism.”

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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