Swift arrest made over family planning site hack

Posted by Emma Woollacott

If proof were needed that members of Anonymous aren't all singing from the same hymn sheet, the news comes that a man claiming to belong to the group has hacked into the website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

The move comes just two days after the group's Italian branch hacked the Vatican website - partly because of its opposition to contraception and abortion.

A 27-year-old man, said to be linked to Anonymous, has already been arrested and charged under the Computer Misuse Act.

"We have taken rapid action to identify and arrest a suspect involved in hacking. This was done to prevent personal details of people who had requested information from the BPAS website being made public," says detective inspector Mark Raymond from the Police Central e-Crime Unit.

"It should be stressed that the stolen data did not contain the medical details of women who had received treatment or why individuals had contacted the British Pregnancy Advisory Service."

According to the BPAS, the hacker made around 26,000 attempts to break into its website over a six-hour period yesterday - but was unable to access any medical or personal information relating to the women who have accessed its services.

However, the the names, addresses and phone numbers of people who have requested information from BPAS via the website were stored, including those making personal inquiries as well as health and education professionals, the media and students. These  inquiries relate to contraception, pregnancy, STI testing and sterilisation, as well as abortion.

"While the confidentiality of women receiving treatment was never in danger, this episode was taken very seriously indeed. A court injunction was obtained to prevent the publication of the data and, in the early hours of this morning an arrest was made," says the BPAS

"This incident appears to be the most extreme example of what is now a very concerning escalation in anti-abortion activity aimed at providers and the women who need their services."