AUGUSTA – The state’s online database of legislative activity has been taken offline because of an attempt by an unknown hacker to manipulate the website’s coding.

On Thursday, the Legislature’s information technology officials shut down the website’s bill status function, which allows users to follow legislation such as roll calls, committee votes, amendments and fiscal notes.

The manipulated code inserted the addresses of extraneous websites that could have exposed users’ computers to harm if they clicked on the links, said Scott Clark, director of information technology for the Legislature.

“It’s not really a hugely harmful thing, if you get the website down,” he said.

That’s what IT staff members did Thursday when they became aware of the problem.  The bill status section of www.mainelegislature.org is run by a vendor, International Roll-Call. It’s unclear whether the hacking affected the websites of other state legislatures operated by the company.

“We’ve been talking to the vendor and they have plans to tighten their security a bit,” Clark said.

No one at International Roll-Call could be reached late Monday. The company’s website lists 76 clients, including state legislatures, the U.S. House of Representatives and a handful of national parliaments.

Clark said IT staff members plan to meet today to update supervisors and further discuss the problem. It’s unknown whether a data breach occurred.

Judi DelFranco, assistant secretary of the Maine Senate, notified subscribers to the state’s legislative activity notification system late Monday that the bill status function was down.