Vodafone UK website hijacked by tax protesters

Vodafone UK website hijacked by tax protesters

A protest group that accuses Vodafone of dodging a £6 billion UK tax bill has today hijacked a website run by the mobile network.

UK Uncut, which has previous targeted Vodafone with large-scale store sit-ins, has issued a press release claiming that it took over the World of Difference site, which the company uses to promote the grants it awards to people to conduct charity work.

The protest group says that it took over the blog part of the site after it was leaked passwords by some of the grant winners. Although the blog element of the site is currently offline, UK Uncut says that its postings included photos and videos of its in-store protests and details of the reasons for them. One blog was apparently titled: “Vodafone’s Tax Dodge £6bn. Cuts to charities £5bn.” The group published a screenshot of its attack.

UK Uncut’s campaign against Vodafone is a part of its wider protests against large-scale public sector spending cuts, which it says could be avoided if tax avoidance of the rich was dealt with by the government. This is the first time that the group has turned to attacking the website of a company. We have contacted Vodafone for comment.

UPDATE: Vodafone has sent us the following comment in which it reiterates that it refutes UK Uncut’s claims of tax avoidance.:

We’ve seen a couple of posts on World of Difference winners’ blogs relating to allegations of tax avoidance. Given these are incorrect, they have been removed.

World of Difference winners are doing great things for charities up and down the country. It’s very sad to see how low people will go to further spread misinformation and for the charitable programme to be used as a platform for this kind of protest.

UPDATE 2: Vodafone sent us the following additional statement a few hours later. It appears some media reports described the attack as a ‘hack’. We were always clear that it was more accurately described as a ‘hijack’.

Following an investigation, and contrary to some online media reports, we can confirm that there was no hack of our World of Difference web site today. The posts which appeared on two World of Difference winners’ blogs, were published as a result of an individual sharing log in details with a protest group, not as a result of a hack.

There was no risk to World of Difference winners, or Vodafone customers’ personal data at any time.

World of Difference winners are doing great things for charities up and down the country. It’s very sad to see how low people will go to further spread misinformation and for the charitable programme to be used as a platform for this kind of protest.

Additional screenshot, via Malcolm Coles:

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