On September 11, 2021 – just over a week after the country’s most restrictive abortion ban went into effect – the Texas GOP website was littered with an army of adorable amphibious Pokémon for several hours. Scroll down the home page and you will find a music video by Rick Astley, a mission statement attributed to the Republican Party of Fucking Over Women, and a joke about Senator Ted Cruz being the Zodiac killer is.
A button above encouraging visitors to “Join Operation Jane” was redirected to Twitter, where a splinter group from the hacktivist collective Anonymous documented guerrilla efforts to crack down on Texas’s six-week abortion ban. (Before targeting the Texas GOP, for example, the group encouraged their supporters, ProlifeWhistleblower.com – a website designed for users to anonymously advertise abortion providers violating SB 8, with fake tips and Shrek porn to flood.)
Aside from the memes and inside jokes, the purpose of Operation Jane was pretty simple: to troll, spam, frustrate, and otherwise disrupt the organizations, and “snitch” the systems that support SB 8. And it worked.
The administrators of TexasGOP.org managed to regain control of the site at the end of the day, but it took more than two weeks to fully restore the site, leading to speculation that the state’s Republican Party was having problems doing the Find backup of their website. Meanwhile, the website carried a banner that read, “We’re down for maintenance” and soliciting donations: “Now join us against these cybercriminals and their brazen attacks by helping to strengthen our digital defenses.” (The Texas Republican Party has since issued a statement confirming that “all data on the RPT website has been compromised and has since been made available to the public.” The party said the hack was reported to the FBI.)
It all seemed like a fleeting humiliation until Anonymous released a treasure trove of data last week that was apparently stolen in connection with the September hack. The release was the third installment in a major hack by Epik, an internet services company known for hosting far-right websites like Gab, Parler and 8chan in addition to the Texas GOP. (Most importantly, not ProlifeWhistleblower.com – Epik refused to host the site, claiming it was violating the company’s Terms of Service.)
Epik, who initially denied it was compromised, had to inform users in late September that “certain customer account information for our domain-related systems has been accessed and downloaded by unauthorized third parties”. Epik CEO Rob Monster used more colorful language during a question and answer session about the hack, saying something about the “demon hackers” responsible for compromising his business really does something stupid, then the Lord converts it into good. “
Hundreds of gigabytes of data were released in the first two leaks alone – including the identities of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who work in law enforcement. The latest cache contains a September 8 backup on the Texas GOP server, as well as “private documents, databases, draft articles,” according to an announcement by Anonymous. Some people, like Micah Lee, director of information security at The Intercept, have had success restoring the WordPress-based website. (Lee tweeted that the leak includes the emails of 66,000 people who signed up for the Texas GOP updates and the résumés of more than 1,000 people who applied for jobs with the party.)
“It will take months, if not years, to sift through the data and put all the pieces of the puzzle together,” said the person who runs Operation Jane’s Twitter account Rolling Stone. “The fallout has already begun and the consequences of all of this will be far-reaching.”
This person agreed to forward Rolling Stone’s Ask other members of the group about the hack and respond with their answers. “We’re really amused by Rob Monster’s virtual prayer meeting and his claim that the hacked data is ‘cursed’,” said the hacker.
She didn’t want to go into details of how many people were involved in Operation Jane or where they are, but said, “We’re a smaller group of OG-Anons based in the United States. We know each other from years of experience. ”(The Pokémon on the Texas GOP site points to old Anonymous protests: Mudkip is“ the mascot of an old image board in the days leading up to the Chanology project, ”she said – a hint the actions of the hacktivist group against the Church of Scientology a decade ago.)
Operation Jane’s women-led team had been following developments in Texas with growing fear for months. “We felt early on with the confirmation from Kavanaugh that the right to abortion was in jeopardy. Local activists in Texas shouted the danger of SB8 all summer, ”the hacker wrote. Now that copycat laws come into effect in other states, they are consider expanding their efforts. “We knew that SB8-like bans would spread to other states … that this type of framework could be used to attack and circumvent other federally protected rights with impunity.”
However, it would not go into detail about these efforts or how the epic hack was carried out, just that Anonymous was responsible for it. “We want the work and the data to speak for themselves,” she said. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who did what or how something came about. But we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. “
She added, “With ProlifeWhistleblower, Texas Right to Life has landed on the wrong playground. Epik gave quarters to the fascists. The Texas GOP can fuck itself. Think again. The internet is ours and we are all Jane. Abortion on demand and without excuse! “