Man held in hack probe after threats to release names of women who had UK abortions
Published 09/03/2012 | 07:34
A MAN suspected of hacking into the website of one of Britain’s biggest abortion providers was being questioned by police today.
The 27-year-old, who claims to have links to Hacktivist group Anonymous, was arrested during the early hours of this morning on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act, Scotland Yard said.
It comes after the website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) was hacked into and defaced yesterday. Data on the website, which is currently down and can not be viewed, was also compromised, police said.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit executed a search warrant at an address in Wednesbury, West Midlands, before arresting the suspect who is currently in custody at a West Midlands Police Station.
Police said they were alerted to allegations that the BPAS website has been hacked yesterday.
Claims later appeared on Twitter that the culprit had accessed the names of women who had undergone terminations and was threatening to release them into the public domain.
However, police said the stolen data did not contain any medical details of women who had received treatment.
Detective Inspector Mark Raymond from the Met's e-Crime Unit said: "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.
"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."
BPAS is a non-statutory abortion provider and has a number of clinics across the country.
It also provides counselling for unplanned pregnancy and abortion treatment and gives advice about contraception, sexually transmitted infection testing and sterilisation.
BPAS said there were about 26,000 attempts to break into its website over a six-hour period, but confirmed that no medical or personal information relating to women who had received treatment was accessed.
However, the company was forced to take out a court injunction after details of people who requested information via the website was compromised.
BPAS said in a statement: "The website does store details (names, addresses and phone numbers) of people who have requested information from BPAS via the website, including those making personal inquiries as well as health and education professionals, the media and students.
"These may have been inquiries relating to contraception, pregnancy, abortion, STI testing and sterilisation.
"Relevant authorities were informed and appropriate legal action taken to prevent the dissemination of any information obtained from the website.
"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."