SYDNEY — A shadowy group of cyber-activists who succeeded Thursday in jamming key Australian government websites for a second consecutive day warned they could shut down the sites for months.
The group, Anonymous, blocked the main government website www.australia.gov.au and www.aph.gov.au, the Australian parliament's homepage, for a second day running in protest over controversial plans to filter the Internet.
Codenamed "Operation: Titstorm", the hacking campaign involves hundreds of people from around the world and used a technique called Distributed Denial of Service to jam web traffic, one of the protesters said.
"It is effectively a lot of computers around the world all trying to access the same sites all at once making so that no one can access them," the activist, who calls himself Coldblood, told AFP.
"I believe that the government websites will remain down as long as we can keep them down. That could be anywhere from a few hours to a few months at the most," he added.
Coldblood, who would reveal only that he was based in Europe, said the campaign would last "as long as the individuals that make up Anonymous decide that action needs to be taken to protect the freedom of the internet."
Anonymous has previously campaigned against the Church of Scientology and helped get information out of Iran during last year's election unrest.
Coldblood said its members wished to "keep the internet a place that is open and available to everyone without censorship".
"Titstorm" follows Australia's announcement in December that it plans to introduce a sweeping national Internet filter blocking access to sites featuring material such as rape, drug use, bestiality and child sex abuse.
Close to 1,000 people from across the globe were believed to be involved in the campaign, which Coldblood said "allows us to impact something as large as a government with a handful of people.
"Going through the official channels you just get pushed aside, this way they have to listen," he said.
"I believe it won't completely get the government to remove the filter they are planning on, but as long as something changes -- for example the list (of banned sites) being made public -- we will have succeeded anyway."
Canberra has condemned the cyber-attacks as irresponsible and not a legitimate form of political protest against the filter, which is opposed by Internet groups and the pornography industry.
Search engine Google has said it could block harmless material on areas of legitimate debate such as euthanasia, sexuality and terrorism.
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