160px Anonymous emblem svg Anonymous Strikes Australia Over Proposed Data Retention Policy

Anonymous has claimed responsibility for the defacement of various websites run by the Australian state of Queensland in protest of a new "big brother" policy regarding data retention, specifically that the Australian government would hold information on individuals and businesses for up to two years.

Members of the hacktivist group “Anonymous” have claimed responsibility for the defacement of several websites operated in the Australian state of Queensland in protest against Australian policies, currently still in draft form, regarding data retention.

The Twitter user @Op_Australia made the claim in this tweet; a webchat channel at anonops.com, also named opAustralia, was referenced in other tweets and is still active, and also offers a link to news stories about the Australian government’s proposed data retention policies; these policies would give the government the ability and power to store and access up to two years’ worth of data about individuals and companies along with easier access to various social networks without the user’s consent. All of this is happening in the name of “national security,” of course.

Anonymous claimed responsibility for the defacements in an email sent to News.com.au, which has reported that the attack was timed in order to coincide with the appearance of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a Google+ Hangout. A Facebook page called “Anonymous Australia” has links to that story along with a list of sites that the group says it has defaced.

While none of the websites Anonymous claims to have defaced were still damaged at the time of writing, two sites, namely createitmakeitliveit.qld.gov.au and smartawards.qld.gov.au were each returning a redirect loop error and were unable to load. Also, it is difficult to know if the Twitter account, webchat, and defacements are really run by Anonymous, as the Guy Fawkes mask and hacktivism have been donned by various groups since Anonymous first made itself known in 2003.

What we do know, however, is that many Australians are not happy with their government’s policies when it comes to freedom on the Internet. A proposed filter, supposedly aimed at preventing child pornography from making its way into the island nation, drew widespread protests before the 2010 election and an all-out attack by Anonymous.

While not entirely gone, the filter still technically exists in a kind of legislative limbo though it has not been put before the Australian Parliament for a long time. The data retention policy has engendered similar kinds of criticism. The government’s response to said criticism has been to reiterate that the proposals are only drafts and that the public will have a chance to comment on the proposals before August 6th.