Censorship opponents slam website hack

By Brett Winterford on Mar 30, 2009 8:02 AM
Filed under Security

Opponents of the Federal Government's filtering scheme have condemned last night's hacking of one of its websites as damaging to their fight against censorship.

Last night, the website for the National Classification Board was hacked just hours before Senator Stephen Conroy appeared on TV to defend the Government's trial of internet filtering.

As he told the audience that the board was "largely responsible" for maintaining the Government's blacklist, an attacker was replacing content on  its site with the following text:

"This site contains information about the boards that have the right to CONTROL YOUR FREEDOMZ."

"The Classification Board has the right to not just classify content (the name is an ELABORATE TRICK), but also the right to DECIDE WHAT IS AND ISNT APPROPRIATE and BAN CONTENT FROM THE PUBLIC."


The attack has angered those working to convince the Government to abandon its trials. 

"I condemn this attack," said Mike Meloni, author of anti-censorship blog Somebody Think of the Children.

"Hacking a website does nothing to bring about social change.

"Those who believe it does are mistaken. These attacks can potentially damage the hard work done by those campaigning to reduce censorship."

He said that although he understood the frustration felt by some about censorship and classification systems, "especially with mandatory filtering on the agenda and the lack of an R18+ game rating", hacking websites was not the solution.

Geordie Guy, board member of online civil rights lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the attack was misdirected and not representative of the organisation's members.

"It's pretty unfortunate," he said.

"We have canvassed the opinions of many of our members, and most have expressed the same concerns as ours.

"We can understand this person's concerns, we understand why they would do something so silly, but we wish they hadn't."

Guy said the hacker's target, the Classification Board, has "little to do with the issue at hand".

He said the board develops the guidelines for ACMA to follow but it was Senator Conroy and ACMA that were proposing filtering.

"A lot of our dismay is that anger is being levelled at the wrong target."

Guy said the EFA took issue with hacking a computer system to make a political point: "It's disappointing this person chose to speak out in a way that is arguably an illegal act".

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