Computer hackers claiming to be from the loose-knit group known as Anonymous say they have broken into several Alabama law enforcement and government websites and have stolen the personal information for more than 46,000 people.
In an online news release Friday, the group claimed to have taken Social Security numbers, license plate numbers, phone numbers, addresses and criminal records.
Mobile city spokeswoman Barbara Drummond said Utah authorities alerted officials Thursday night that hackers may be targeting the city. She told The Associated Press that the city shut down its computers to avoid the attack and that the hackers did not gain access to Mobile's servers.
However, hackers did breach the website of the city webmaster, and took data from a recent program offering amnesty to people with outstanding warrants for municipal offenses.
Hackers claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous have launched a spate of attacks on law enforcement websites in recent weeks, hitting such cities as Salt Lake City, Boston, Syracuse, N.Y. and Greece. The collective of activists, pranksters and hackers have also targeted financial institutions such as Visa and MasterCard, as well as the Church of Scientology.
The warrant amnesty information from Mobile had already been made public by the city to encourage people to participate in the amnesty program, Drummond said. She said city technicians are still trying to determine whether some personal information required to log on to that website may have been stolen.
The group says the attack was prompted by what it called Alabama's "racist legislation" targeting illegal immigrants.
"You complain about immigrants costing the state money, however, you do not care about spending the same money to protect your own legal citizens," the news release said.
The group says it will not use the personal information to do damage.
"Because of the possible cost of lives and money to regular citizens, we are deleting this data and are seeking to make it known that you not only have shown zero regard for immigrants, but for the very citizens that live in the great state of Alabama."
Officials in other Alabama cities have said they are not aware of being attacked.