A petition to free Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei posted on Change.org has prompted hackers to go after the popular petitioning website.
The site has experienced considerable downtime from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Such attacks function by overwhelming a site’s server with traffic, which originates from thousands of hacked computers, thus causing the targeted site to crash.
In a statement, Change.org founder Ben Rattray noted, “It’s pretty clear the attack is in response to the campaign”.
Earlier this month, WeiWei was taken into custody. He’s most recently been active in uncovering government scandal amid crisis, which could have played a part in his arrest. The activist is also notable for having contributed to the construction of Beijing’s National Stadium, which was used for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The petition for WeiWei’s released has already attracted nearly 100,000 signatures, including support from such high-profile entities as the Guggenheim and Tate Modern museums.
Change.org has confirmed that the source of the attacks resides in China. Although the popular petitioning site has been blocked in China for years now, Change.org said that there’s no reason to believe that the Chinese government was behind them.
Entities of the U.S. government such as the FBI and State Department have launched an investigation into the DDoS.
International bodies, including the United States, have criticized China for its human rights record in the recent past. WeiWei’s arrest may be part of a larger crackdown on anti-government dissidence by the Chinese government.
Change.org launched in 2007 and has become one of the largest online petitioning websites.