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Anonymous hackers cripple Australian gov't websites

  • Hacker collective 'Anonymous' (pictured) breached security firm Stratfor in December.AP

International hacking group Anonymous took at least 10 Australian government websites offline briefly Tuesday in a series of escalating attacks over proposed changes to privacy laws.

The Australian arm of the group has warned it will continue the attacks on “.gov.au” sites until plans to force ISPs to store user data and make it further available to security services are shelved.

The attacks started after Prime Minister Julia Gillard answered policy questions via webcam in an online Google+ Hangout session on Saturday but the sites targeted so far are all run by the Queensland State Government.

Anonymous Australia told news.com.au the attacks were brought forward to coincide with Ms Gillard's online Q and A session and it had raised the privacy concerns with the PM earlier on a Twitter hashtag.

'The Australian Government is attempting to strip away its citizens’ Internet rights.'

- Anonymous statement

Anonymous said the sites were specifically chosen because the group had “proof” that small to medium businesses, education departments, student and personal accounts had been tracked by the State Government.

“The Australian Government is attempting to strip away its citizens’ Internet rights by forcing them to surrender passwords and Internet usage data,” Anonymous Australia said via email.

“Unless the Government starts acting in the best interest of its people, it will continue to bring the noise.”

The hackers said the attacks were in response to changes being discussed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

The proposed security expansions would mean everything from social networking to emails would be monitored and stored for up to two years, and intelligence agencies would be given increased access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We no longer know about many of the activities of our governments while our governments have the means to accumulate unprecedented vast banks of data about us,” Anonymous Australia said.

“Whilst our own rights to privacy dwindle, corporate rights to commercial confidentiality and intellectual property skyrocket.

“We plan to continue targeting .gov.au websites until PJCIS is rejected.”

Get more information, as well as more tech news and reviews, at News.com.au.