Scientology Internet Hackers Plan Real-Life Protests at Church Locations

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Hackers who launched a massive online attack against the Church of Scientology are now turning to real-world protests to draw attention to what they call a "vast moneymaking scheme under the guise of 'religion."'

The loosely organized group of hackers, who meet up and coordinate attacks through Internet Relay Chat channels, have set Feb. 10 for a wave of protests at Scientology locations worldwide.

In anonymous postings on the group's Web site, organizers said they are trying to raise awareness about the threats to free speech posed by the church's lawyers, who, the group claims, aggressively try to silence critics by threatening lawsuits. The church said its lawyers follow standard procedures for protecting copyrighted materials.

The first wave of attacks began earlier this month with hackers bombarding the church's Web site with traffic to cripple its servers. The church appears to have fortified its Web site since then, deploying technology that helps protect against so-called denial-of-service attacks.

Pranksters also hammered the church's telephone network with phony phone calls and mountains of spam faxes and e-mails.

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