Senator Stephen Conroy copped another poke in the eye last night. The Classification Board’s website was hacked and the home page defaced.
Instead of the Board’s usual welcome message, visitors were told:
This site contains information about the boards that have the right to CONTROL YOUR FREEDOMZ. 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. We are part of an ELABORATE DECEPTION from CHINA to CONTROL AND SHEEPIFY the NATION, to PROTECT THE CHILDREN. All opposers must HATE CHILDREN, and therefore must be KILLED WITH A LARGE MELONS during the PROSECUTION PARTIES IN SEPTEMBER. Come join our ALIEN SPACE PARTY.
The hack was first noticed around 8pm Canberra time. The defaced page was visible for several hours before the website was taken offline. The site was still down late this morning, with all attempts to access it returning the message: “400 Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)”.
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A public website, by definition, only contains material intended for public view. If this defacement is all that happened, it doesn’t represent a major security lapse, merely a c-ck-up. Systems administrators only need to miss one software update to leave a server vulnerable. Still, it’s yet another embarrassment for Senator Conroy after the weekend leak of the ACMA blacklist and subsequent reports of its poor quality.
Speaking of embarrassment, Senator Conroy’s performance on ABC TV’s Q&A last night was decidedly uncomfortable — and not just because he had to endure Andrew Bolt trotting out that tired old line equating freedom of speech with the right to watch child p-rnography. With friends like these etc. Even Conroy is backing away from that dishonest rhetoric.
The program opened with the thud of Tony Jones dumping a stack of email printouts on the desk — just half of the two thousand audience questions they’d received about internet censorship. Senator Conroy’s body language was defensive from the word go. The audience simply didn’t believe him when he explained the blacklisting of a dentist’s website being the result of “the Russian mob” — even though it’s probably true. They laughed when he said a page of PG-rated photos by Bill Henson appeared on ACMA’s blacklist due to a “technical error”.
“It was actually cleared by the Classification Board so it shouldn’t have been on the list,” he said.
Senator Conroy’s key sound bites were that nothing will be decided until the field trials of ISP-level filters are completed (presumably true), the blacklist has been around for nine years (true), and that it’s about illegal Refused Classification (RC) material like inc-st, r-pe and child p-rnography (only partially true). The blacklist contains legal material rated MA15+ or higher which isn’t protected by an age-verification mechanism.
As Crikey reported on Monday, Conroy only recently started saying the government only ever intended to filter the RC portions of the blacklist.
But those messages were overshadowed by Conroy having to provide excuses for the blacklist’s shortcomings.
Q&A was Senator Conroy’s big chance to tell Australia, clearly and simply, live and unedited, precisely what was being planned. He blew it.
This morning, the Fairfax websites have styled Conroy the “Minister of Silly Lists”. Leaks, excuses, hacks and now ridicule. Thank god it’s Friday, eh Senator?