The loosely knit online hacker collective went on the rampage yesterday afternoon after news broke that several Megaupload.com staff members had been arrested, including its founder Kim Dotcom. They are accused of online piracy and the popular file sharing service was pulled from the internet.

Within minutes after the news spread, the so-called hacktivists had assembled, and #OPMegaupload had begun in what became an evening of nonstop DDoS attacks likened to the virtual equivalent of a nuclear bomb on pretty much any company or government entity pro SOPA or PIPA.

“We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. The FBI didn't think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us,” they later posted on Pastebin, along with their targets, and personal information of various heads of organizations.

If you had any doubt as to Anonymous’ abilities yesterday proved otherwise, in what became an awe inspiring display of power. Within an hour most of the targeted websites were out for the count, throwing up error pages or not even loading at all.

“You feel censored yet? We sincerely hope you like your own medicine!” the hacker collective said in a comment directed at the FBI.

The full list of targets were:

• Department of Justice (Justice.gov)
• Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA.org)
• Universal Music (UniversalMusic.com)
• Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation (Anti-piracy.be/nl/)
• Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA.org)
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI.gov)
• HADOPI law site (HADOPI.fr)
• U.S. Copyright Office (Copyright.gov)
• Universal Music France (UniversalMusic.fr)
• Senator Christopher Dodd (ChrisDodd.com)
• Vivendi France (Vivendi.fr)
• The White House (Whitehouse.gov)
• BMI (BMI.com)
• Warner Music Group (WMG.com)

Universal Music’s website is currently down for maintenance, although it’s uncertain whether that is related to Anonymous’ DDoS attacks yesterday. While I’m writing this article, the RIAA website won’t even load, the HADOPI law site is displaying a page saying the site is offline due to technical problems and the French website of Universal Music is displaying errors on page loads due to excessive page requests. Even Warner Music Group’s website is refusing to load occasionally as well.

I can’t help but think of the timing of the FBI’s arrests for Megaupload staff. Just the day after the largely peaceful outcry against the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation, which was a huge success, with various Senators withdrawing support for the bills.

After public support had all but eroded they needed something to justify their fight against piracy and 'cyber criminals' to the masses. Has Anonymous just inadvertently fallen into that trap?