CANBERRA, Australia - The website of the Australia's Classification Board, which oversees ratings for film, literature and media such as video games, was hacked Thursday evening, in protest of the Internet filtering scheme of the nation's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
A number of websites, including News.com in Australia and Wire, featured screen shots of the hacker's message, which replaced the Censor site's welcome text and said, with plenty of misspelled words, either intentional or unintentional:
"This site contains information about the boards that have the right to CONRTROL (sic) YOUR FREEDOMZ," the hacking message said.
"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 message went on.
The hacker, or hackers, appeared to possibly be from China, a portion of the message said, "We are part of an ELABORATE DECEPTION from CHINA to CONTROL AND SHEEPIFY the NATION, to PROTECT THE CHILDREN. All opposers must HATE CHILDREN."
The site was hacked Thursday around 8 p.m. Australian Eastern Time and remained online for several hours. As of Friday, it appeared to be down.
A spokesperson for the Classification Board said the hacking was being investigated, but Australian Federal Police had not been called in, according to News.com.
Australian Senator Conroy, aka "The Censorship Senator" to opponents, appeared the same evening on the Australian ABC-TV show "Q & A" to talk about his filtering plan and leaks of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's "secret" list of banned sites.
The "Great Aussie Firewall," as Conroy's scheme's been called, has come under fire since it was first proposed and the publication of the site blacklists, which he's denied are the real thing, have fanned the flames.
Despite Conroy's claim that his program would focus on eliminating child porn and child abuse sites, the published lists included not only straight and gay porn sites clearly for adults, but also a travel agent website, a dentist's page and political/social agenda sties.
Opponents of the government filtering scheme and current filtering trials have quickly distanced themselves from the anonymous hacking.
"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."
Electronic Frontiers Australia spokesperson Geordie Guy called the attack "unfortunate," adding his membership agreed it was anger "leveled at the wrong target."
"We can understand this person's concerns, we understand why they would do something so silly, but we wish they hadn't," Guy said, also pointing out Australia's Classification Board has "little to do with the issue at hand."
Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory censorship and classification body that provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board, which classifies films, video games and publications, and the Classification Review Board, which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made.
While the Office of Film and Literature Classification has taken "censorship" out of its title, it is empowered to censor media by refusing classification and making that media illegal for hire, exhibition and importation to Australia. This has especially brought controversy in the case of computer and video games, as an Aussie adult R18+ classification does not currently exist for video games, which is contrary to a section in the country's National Classification Code stating that "adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want."