Hackers have leaked almost 270 GB of FBI and police documents online, covering more than 20 years’ worth of potentially sensitive law enforcement information and intelligence.
The documents have been collected under the title “BlueLeaks” and were uploaded to the Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) project, an alternative to WikiLeaks that is popular with so-called hacktivists.
Almost three thousand items contain the phrase “TOP SECRET” on DDoSecrets’ searchable online database, but these seem to indicate the clearance level of email contacts in the documents and not the contents of the documents themselves.
On Twitter, the project said the database “provides unique insights into law enforcement and a wide array of government activities, including thousands of documents mentioning COVID-19”.
The data appears to have been collected following a breach of a web services company in Houston, Texas, which counts a number of law enforcement agencies as customers.
It was released on 19 June, also known as Juneteenth, which is not a federally recognised holiday in the US, but is celebrated to commemorate the Union army proclaiming all slaves in Texas to be free in 1865, during the American Civil War.
The day before the release the project’s Twitter account tweeted in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The DDoSecrets account told Sky News that it understands the data it has published “wasn’t stored on a system cleared for classified information”.
Its release follows weeks of renewed focus on racism in America, especially on law enforcement’s conduct towards black people after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.
There are more than 6,500 documents mentioning George Floyd in the database, including a threat assessment regarding a memorial event.
Few, if any, of these appear to directly relate to the death of Mr Floyd, and most cover the protests which took place across the US in response to it.
There have been multiple allegations of police brutality during the course of these protests, with one incident involving an elderly man who was shoved to the ground by police at a protest in New York, suffering a brain injury as a result.
There is a large volume of material, much of which is incidental and informative rather than based on intelligence.
One unclassified FBI report warns that civil unrest in response to Mr Floyd’s death could threaten law enforcement supporters’ safety.
It cites “an identified Twitter account dedicated to anarchist ideology” which posted: “See a blue lives matter flag, destroy a blue lives matter flag challenge.”
Another tweet it mentioned said: “Truck with ‘blue lives matter’ crap on it just got all the windows smashed out. Give em hell tonight. #AvengeGeorgeFloyd.”
Fewer than 500 of the hundreds of thousands of documents mention Antifa, a collective of militant anti-fascist protesters which President Donald Trump has moved to designate as a terrorist organisation.