A spokesperson for the loose coalition of individuals who attacked Federal Government websites this week to protest against the internet filtering policy today acknowledged some thought the attacks were juvenile, but said they sent more of a message than “signing a petition”.
The group this week knocked the website of the Australian Parliament offline in a distributed denial of service attack that also targeted the website of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Government workers were also sent a flood of email with porn enclosed, prank phone calls and dodgy faxes, in an initiative dubbed “Operation Titstorm”.
“Maybe some people think the attacks are juvenile but it makes more of a message then signing a petition as the attacks can not be ignored,” said an individual claiming to be a spokesperson for the group in an email interview.
They added they did not feel the attack would completely stop the filter initiative initiative from being cancelled. “However, even if they make the blacklist public I personally will be happy, but there are other people that will not be happy until it is completely destroyed,” the spokesperson said.
They said the aim of the attack was to make governments everywhere aware that they “can not mess with the internet and not have a backlash”.
Despite their sentiments about petitions, the spokesperson said the best thing the broader Australian public could do to protest against the filter was to sign the petition of Electronic Frontiers Australia and tell government officials that they disagreed with the policy.
It’s not the first time Anonymous has attacked government websites; in September last year, the group, which has achieved notoriety for its attacks against the Church of Scientology, temporarily took down several Australian Government websites, including the website of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In response to a question about whether that prior action had had any legal consequences, the spokesperson said the group had not had any reports of legal action, but as every member of Anonymous was an individual, the group had no formal membership and anyone could take part in the protest action, news of legal action against individuals did not always spread.
In this week’s attack, the individual estimated that there were about 100 people actively participating in the protest, but because of the way Anonymous is organised, it was impossible to tell. Last night, they said, there were at least 480 people in an associated chat room discussing the attack.
One of Anonymous’ claims is that the government is cracking down on in an inappropriate way on certain types of content online that may not be illegal, but may suggest illegal behaviour — for example pornographic images of women with a certain chest size that may suggest they are below 18. In answer to a question about the veracity of the claim, the spokesperson pointed to government statements and information released by the Australian Sex Party.
Delimiter also asked the Anonymous spokesperson about their views on the internet meme lolcatz, which, like Anonymous, has been associated with the internet messageboard 4chan. “Lolcatz is great, what is not to love about a cat with a funny caption under it,” they said.
Note: Delimiter does not have any specific knowledge of the identity of individual members of Anonymous. We simply emailed the firstname.lastname@example.org email address listed on Anonymous’ press release earlier this week and received a reply from an individual claiming to be a spokesperson. There are obvious journalistic difficulties with verifying the spokesperson’s identity, however we believe them to be affiliated with Anonymous.
The spokesperson stressed they personally had not taken part in attacking government websites and was just acting as a spokesperson for Anonymous.