Australian parliament Web site attacked

Denial-of-service attack comes after warning from Anonymous

The Australian Parliament's Web site was hit by an apparent denial-of-service attack Wednesday, two days after the hacking group Anonymous threatened attacks over the government's plan to filter Web content.

Australian officials reported a massive denial-of-service attack that knocked the Parliament's site down for large parts of the day. Early Wednesday in Australia, the Web site was hit by 7.5 million requests per second, Parliamentary Services Secretary Alan Thompson told The Australian.

As of noon EST Wednesday in the U.S., the Parliament's Web site was down.

The hacking group, Anonymous, in a press released dated Monday, complained about a December proposal from Australian Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy that the government require ISPs to block illegal and "unwanted" content.

The filtering is designed to protect children from online gambling and pornography, according to news reports.

"The Australian Government will learn that one does not mess with our porn," Anonymous said in its press release. "No one messes with our access to perfectly legal (or illegal) content for any reason."

Anonymous first gained attention in early 2008 for attacking the Church of Scientology's Web site. The group accused the church of brainwashing its members.

The Monday press release warned the Australian government to "expect us." Anonymous did not respond to an e-mail asking for comment on the attacks on the Parliament Web site.

Conroy's proposal has generated strong criticism from several groups. Google has questioned the proposal, saying the prohibitions would be too broad.

"We have a bias in favour of people's right to free expression," Google said in December on its Australian blog.

"While we recognise that protecting the free exchange of ideas and information cannot be without some limits, we believe that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual."

Anonymous expressed some similar concerns in its press release. Conroy's suggestion that ISPs should block "unwanted" content is "unacceptable," Anonymous said.

"No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be 'unwanted,'" the group said in its press release.

"Indeed, the only possible interpretation of 'unwanted content' is content that the government itself does not want to be seen."

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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