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Unidentified hackers on Thursday dumped thousands of files containing the private information of police officers that were taken from an online database belonging to America's largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
FOP, which says it represents roughly 330,000 law enforcement officers, reported the hack in a Facebook post on Thursday evening. It claimed that the hack had been conducted by the hacktivist collective Anonymous, but there is nothing in the 2.5GB of information released to suggest that members of the group were involved.
"We have learned today that our data system has been hacked by the Group known as Anonymous. It appears to have originated outside of the United States," the statement from FOP national president Chuck Canterbury read. "The data breech [sic] is a complete breech of our data and they have posted some of the data on Twitter."
The hack has reportedly been traced to an IP address in the UK, Canterbury told the Guardian. In the Facebook post, Canterbury wrote that hundreds of "bargaining contracts" had been collected, noting that they were already available online.
"They have however breeched all of our records and therefore we have shut down access to our entire site," he added. "We have engaged professionals to identify all the necessary steps we need to take to put our system back on line and it may take several days."
The contracts made between local FOP associations or "lodges" and US cities date back to 2006. They contain information on agreements ranging from sick leave to controversial private deals that have been criticized for shielding officers from disciplinary action or prosecution following alleged misconduct or excessive use of force.
Messages posted in the FOP's private online forum also surfaced, in which officers appear to write derisively about US President Barack Obama and the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. Obama is called "antipolice, antilaw" in one message, while another called Sotomayor a "radical socialist" and blasted the union's leadership for endorsing her.
Motherboard reported that the data is being hosted by Thomas White, who goes by the handle The Cthulhu. White has previously copied sites hosting the leaks from Italian surveillance company Hacking Team; data stolen extra-marital affairs site Ashley Madison, and customer details from crowd-funding site Patreon.
In a post online, White wrote that he was sent the files by a confidential source for distribution "in the public interest," especially "in light of an ever increasing divide between the police groups and the citizens of the US."
In the statement, White also claims to possess a further 18TB of data and addresses police directly.
"Don't bother with legal threats or trying to get UK law enforcement to seek revenge," he wrote. "This is me playing nice. If you want to go nuclear with me, feel free to do so, but trust me when I say you might want to think long and hard before you do."