Congress website DEFACED on Sonia Gandhi's birthday

NEw DELHI: Hackers broke into the official website of India's ruling Congress party Friday and defaced the profile page of party president Sonia Gandhi with a pornographic message.

The attack coincided with Gandhi's 65th birthday and came just days after the Indian government pledged a crackdown on "unacceptable" internet content, that included faked naked pictures of the Congress leader.

"I have been informed that the website has been hacked," Congress spokesman Tom Vadakhan said, adding that the site had been swiftly closed down once the intrusion was detected.

The pornographic text included a reference to a Pakistan-based email address, but did not otherwise identify the hackers.

Vadakhan told AFP that the party's computer department was investigating the incident.

Earlier this week, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal pledged a crackdown on "unacceptable" online content, saying Internet giants such as Google, Yahoo! and Facebook had ignored India's demands to screen images and data before they are uploaded.

"We will evolve guidelines and mechanisms to deal with the issue," Sibal told reporters, without detailing what steps might be taken.

He highlighted examples of faked pictures of naked politicians, including Sonia Gandhi, and other images and social network pages that he said could inflame religious tensions.

Sibal's comments prompted a storm of online ridicule along with warnings of the risk to the country's image as a bastion of free speech.

Official Indian websites have been repeatedly hacked in the past. Last year, a group who identified themselves as the " Pakistan Cyber Army" hacked the website of the country's top police agency.

The group also claimed to have hacked a number of other websites in recent years, including India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, in retaliation for Indian hackers accessing Pakistan sites.