Following a Justice Department release stating that federal officials had taken down the file-sharing site Megaupload, hacking collective Anonymous launched several attacks on government and entertainment industry Web sites in retaliation.

Seven executives from Megaupload, a very popular site for sharing files, were indicted, The Washington Post’s Sari Horowitz and Cecilia Kang reported Thursday. Federal officials said the site was flagrantly disobeying copyright laws and protections. Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken denied those charges.

Within hours of the announcement, Anonymous vowed to crash the Web sites of the Justice Department and Universal Music, which were unresponsive for hours late Thursday. The group continued to announce more targets, including the main page for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was rendered inaccessible about 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, and the White House, which was not.

The attacks did not appear to be designed to collect any information from the Web sites, but simply flooded the pages with more Web traffic than they were designed to handle. This is known as a distributed denial-of-service attack, and is a common tactic Anonymous members use to embarrass companies and organizations.

The attacks are likely to continue, The Post’s Ed O’Keefe and Ian Shapira reported Thursday in The Federal Eye.

Barrett Brown, the Dallas-based founder of an online think tank that works with Anonymous, said that Anonymous hackers might also figure out a way to ensure that certain Congress members’ names would be linked to their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act.

“Operation Donkey Punch is definitely going to involve bringing attention to the Congress members through creative means,” Barrett said. “We have means to tie someone’s name to something forever using search engine optimization.”

On a Twitter account associated with the Anonymous member known as Sabu, the hacker called for Web users to “boycott Hollywood” and support torrent sites, independent movies and music and — of course — kill the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.

Using the hashtag “#StarveTheBeast,” Sabu tweeted, “We the people are in charge. We have the power. Remember that [ladies] and gentlemen. We can’t allow paper-pushers to rule us.”

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