The group representing Ontario's top police brass appears to be the latest victim of "hacktivist" organization Anonymous, after the website for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) was downed in an apparent cyber attack.
In another sign of backlash against the federal government's proposed internet surveillance bill, C-30, hackers on Saturday posted what they claimed to be an online "database leak," which purportedly revealed login usernames and passwords for several administrators' accounts for the OACP website.
The database leak, which has been widely shared via micro-blogging website Twitter, lists the web address for the association as a "target."
A memo about the purported leak begins with a quote alluding to privacy concerns surrounding the reach of the online surveillance bill: "Snoop on to them as they snoop on to you."
The Conservative government's contentious crime-busting legislation, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, would force internet service providers to hand over customer information to police — without a warrant — for the purposes of monitoring clients in order to catch online child predators.
'We pulled our site down so it's not accessible. It appears this was really meant to embarrass, to send a message to Ontario's police leaders.' —Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police spokesman Joe Couto
Many police chiefs across Canada supported the bill, reasoning that it was necessary to help fight child pornography.
But a large public outcry ensued, with concerned citizens saying there would be nothing to stop law-abiding web surfers from also being tracked without their knowledge or consent.
CBC's John Northcott said Saturday's information dump includes "a series of email addresses, passwords, full names, user names, information from allegedly the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police website."
'Meant to embarrass' police chiefs
A visit to the website's address on Saturday showed a mostly blank page with an "under maintenance" message at the top.
Joe Couto, a spokesperson with the OACP, said the association wouldn't be intimidated by this sort of activity.
"I can ensure citizens of this province that police will continue to provide opinions to lawmakers on this and any other piece of legislation that comes forward that affects policing in this province," Couto said.
"We pulled our site down so it's not accessible. It appears this was really meant to embarrass, to send a message to Ontario's police leaders."
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced the bill earlier this month.