Abbott Sues French HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group for Launching Attack on Company’s Web Site, Wall Street Journal ReportsAbbott Laboratories on May 23 filed a lawsuit in French criminal court against the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Act Up-Paris for launching a "cyber attack" on the company's Web site, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, Act Up-Paris on April 26 organized an attack on Abbott's Web server in response to a call from Thai HIV/AIDS groups to protest Abbott's recent actions regarding its antiretrovirals Aluvia and Kaletra in Thailand. The group encouraged between 500 and 1,000 HIV/AIDS advocates from Canada, France, India, Thailand and the U.S. to click on a link posted on Act Up-Paris' Web site that caused Abbott's server to become overloaded. According to Jerome Martin, a member of the group, the attack lasted four hours and disabled Abbott's site for about 30 minutes the night before the company's annual shareholder meeting. An unnamed Abbott spokesperson said the site was disabled for longer than 30 minutes but was unable to give a specific time, the Journal reports.
In the suit, Abbott claims that the attack interrupted some of its business activities, such as online sales of nutritional products. Abbott also alleges that the group violated two articles of the French penal code that prohibit disrupting a Web site and providing the means to do so, according the Journal. Abbott spokesperson Scott Stoffel said the company "respect[s] the right to protest, and while our organizations can disagree on various matters, it is important to convey those disagreements in a respectful, appropriate and lawful manner."
Martin said that Act Up-Paris will defend itself against the lawsuit and plans to use media coverage of the lawsuit to draw attention to Abbott's actions in Thailand. "We're going to use the forum [Abbott is] offering us to talk about Thailand again and the horrible consequences their decision has had there." If the court rules against Act-Up Paris, the group could be fined as much as 75,000 euros, or $100,000, and be ordered to disband, the Journal reports (Carreyrou/Johnson, Wall Street Journal, 6/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.