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July 31, 2013

Anonymous Attacks New Zealand Prime Minister's Website

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Anonymous, the decentralized hacker collective, has reportedly struck again, this time briefly taking down the website of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. The motivation for the attack was said to be over New Zealand's plans to allow the country's intelligence services to target local citizens.

The group calling itself Anonymous NZ—likely the New Zealand branch of Anonymous, though due to the collective's decentralized nature there is little in the way of formal power structure—took to YouTube (News - Alert), where it posted a clip saying that it had attacked Key's website. Further, the clip also went on to describe attacks on 12 other websites connected to the National Party, the current ruling party of New Zealand, over what it deemed “a despicable piece of legislation.”

The video clip went on to note that “the majority of New Zealanders oppose this bill,” and that “due to [Key's] own arrogance and unwillingness to listen to the people, we have decided to take direct action.” The impact of the attack was minimal, as service was quickly restored, and Key himself took to Radio New Zealand to decry the hackers. He called the attack “pretty juvenile behavior,” adding: “These people are obviously doing something that's both illegal and inappropriate. They're trying to make their own political point, but their point's wrong.”

Under current policy, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand's primary intelligence service, is forbidden from turning its gaze on its own citizens or residents, but Key believes that that restriction is interfering with GCSB's ability to cooperate with police and military within the country, and that should the GCSB receive the ability to focus on its own people, the results would be a safer populace.

But many like Anonymous, including Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, are against this measure. Given that Dotcom received a formal apology from Key for the GCSB doing to Dotcom illegally what Key proposes be legal, it's clear to see that there's some clear experience on both sides of the coin. Dotcom further advised groups like Anonymous to not engage in hacking measures as it “is just giving John Key a new excuse to pass the GCSB bill.”

As is so often the case when it comes to security bills, it's easy to see both sides of the argument. Using pre-Internet rules for government spying agencies just seems a bit inadequate in this day and age, so some updating really should be expected to keep from unduly tying the government's hands. And yet, laws like these are so easy to misuse; consider what the GCSB did to Kim Dotcom, and it isn’t hard to see why many are concerned about handing the GCSB more authority when it's considered how it uses what it currently has.

The issue isn't likely to be settled quickly, but hopefully at least a note of common ground can be reached that allows all sides to coexist peacefully, with the government working hard to protect citizens within the limits of the law.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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