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28 Aug, 2013 09:53

Hackers threaten to reveal secrets of New Zealand MPs behind snooping bill

Hackers threaten to reveal secrets of New Zealand MPs behind snooping bill

The Anonymous hacker group has threatened to post New Zealand MPs’ secrets online after the country’s parliament passed an NSA-style spying bill. It follows a hack by the group against the NZ government that took out the Kiwi secret services’ website.

In an interview over an encrypted link with New Zealand newspaper the Herald, the hacktivist group said they would target the politicians responsible for a so-called snooping bill. The group said they were giving the MPs a chance to prove to the NZ public that they had nothing to hide.

"Releasing such personal information sends a message that they're not very hard to find, they aren't the only ones who can gather intelligence,” a representative of Anonymous said.

The hacktivist organization knocked out the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) website on Friday in a denial-of-service attack. In the interview with the Herald, the group said the cyber-attack was merely a distraction that masked another hack to obtain secret data.

Anonymous is opposing an amendment that was passed by the New Zealand parliament on August 21. The legislation would grant the GCSB – New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA – new powers to support the country’s police, Defense Force and Security Intelligence Service.

Opponents of the controversial bill have criticized the legislation as ambiguous, and say it could open the door to NSA-style surveillance. Anonymous has characterized the bill as “an unadulterated violation of human rights, constitutionally illegal, and an invasion of the people's privacy.”

They have also criticized NZ Prime Minister John Key, who championed the bill, for failing to stand up to the US.
The GCSB confirmed the hack attack Friday, but rejected the claims that classified data had been taken.

The debate over the GCSB’s new powers triggered a number of mass protests, with three quarters of New Zealanders “concerned” by the amendment, according to a survey by Fairfax Media-Ipsos.

However, Key has rejected criticism of the bill as fueled by “misinformation” and “conspiracy” fears stirred up by the country’s opposition. He has trenchantly defended the bill as necessary to protect the country’s cyber-security in the face of various threats.

"There will be times where a serious cyber-intrusion is detected against a New Zealander and the GCSB will then need to look at content – that's why the law allows that. But that should be the end point, not the starting point," Key said.

One of the most vocal members of the NZ opposition, Kim Dotcom, founder of MegaUploads, said the so-called threats were “imaginary” and a justification for “a radical termination of our basic rights.”

Last January New Zealand police stormed Dotcom’s mansion in Auckland, seizing digital material and other assets. A judge later ruled that the raid was illegal. Since then Dotcom has accused the New Zealand government of collaborating with the US secret services.