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Anonymous hits Australia

State government web sites defaced and taken down over data retention policy

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People operating under the name “Anonymous” claim to have defaced several websites in the Australian state of Queensland, in protest against draft Australian policies on data retention.

The Twitter handle @Op_Australia makes the claim in this tweet. A webchat channel at anonops.com named opAustralia referenced in other tweets is active, and offers a link to newswire story about the government's proposed data retention policies. Those policies would see the government able to store and access up to two years worth of data about individuals and businesses, and enjoy easier access to social networks without user consent, in the name of national security.

Anonymous has claimed responsibility for the defacements in an email sent to News.com.au, which reports the attack was timed to coincide with the appearance of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a Google+ Hangout. A Facebook page named Anonymous Australia links to that story and lists web sites the group says it defaced.

None of the websites Anonymous says it has defaced were still damaged at the time of writing, but createitmakeitliveit.qld.gov.au/ and smartawards.qld.gov.au/ each returned a redirect loop error and would not load.

It is of course hard to know if the defacements, Twitter account and webchat channel mentioned above really are run by Anonymous, because as Wired recently detailed various individuals and groups have donned the Guy Fawkes mask at different times.

What is certain, however, is that Australians aren't happy with their government's policies regarding internet freedom. A proposed Internet filter, ostensibly aimed at preventing child pornography reaching the island nation, drew wide protests before the 2010 election and an attack from Anonymous.

The filter is now in legislative limbo, and has not been put before the Parliament for some time. The new data retention proposals have also been widely criticised. The Federal government's response to that criticism has been to point out that the proposals are only drafts and that the public has a chance to comment on them before the August 6th conclusion of a consultation process. ®

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