The members of the group are being charged for participating in 2010 cyberattacks against government agencies, politicians and companies like Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Bank of America. It also targeted the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Called “Operation Payback,” the attacks were mainly distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which floods a website with traffic in order to crash its server, in retaliation for the shutdown of torrent search engine Pirate Bay.
Anonymous members also attacked websites of people or organizations that were critical of Wikileaks. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal stopped processing payments to Wikileaks in 2010, while the organization was being investigated. The website was scrutinized by the U.S. government after it leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables.
The court papers say that the hackers conspired to coordinate DDoS attacks in Internet Chat Relay (IRC) channels. The group caused an estimated $5,000 in damages and affected at least 10 “protected computers.”