(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
Queensland police are investigating a video posted online by an activist, claiming links to international group Anonymous, in protest against the state government’s anti-bikie laws.
The video says the new laws, which apply mandatory sentences for members of organisations the government deems as criminal, have gone too far.
The government says the laws are aimed only at criminal bikie gangs and actual criminals.
Kerri Worthington reports.
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“We are Anonymous Australia, and today we would like to speak to you about Campbell Newman’s push for the new anti-bikie laws which could likely spread Australia-wide.”
The YouTube video criticises the Queensland government’s anti-bikie laws, saying they impinge on the right to freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to a fair trial before an independent judge and the right to free speech and association.
A figure disguised in a mask and whose voice is digitally generated says the laws will have far wider effects than just on outlaw bikie gangs and their associates.
“By knowing, condoning or associating with a person or persons who are committing crimes or just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be jailed for up to 15 years, facing a mandatory minimum of six months. The laws are so stringent even fictional bikies face being outlawed. A man was harshly questioned and almost arrested at a legal protest for wearing a Sons of Anarchy t-shirt, which is a television show.”
The activist describes the laws as a “creeping fascism”.
“Campbell Newman’s bill has come with a slew of propaganda suggesting normal people won’t be targeted. But along with his broken election promises, this is not the first time he has lied. These laws make no mention whatsoever of bikies. They apply to any association.”
Digital security expert Mark Gregory, from RMIT, says Anonymous is a loose grouping of people from around the world that carries out hacking attacks to highlight government activities it disagrees with.
Dr Gregory says this message to the Queensland government appears different and may be from someone not normally associated with Anonymous.
“The circumstances surrounding the video about the new laws in Queensland is unusual in that normally Anonymous announces some hacking or breach of an organisation’s database or digital information before the videos are made. In this case the videos come first and they’re saying that they’re thinking of carrying out some kind of action. So we don’t know that this is actually Anonymous. The video is definitely not following the normal modus operandi of Anonymous.”
Dr Gregory points to a weekend attack on more than 200 Australian websites by what appear to be Indonesian hackers – protesting against allegations Australia has helped the United States to spy on its Asian neighbours – as more in line with what Anonymous does.
“The way that they’ve gone about it, that is the normal methodology. They’ve carried out some attacks and then they’ve made a video. They’ve made their point in the video but at the same time indicated what they’ve done — the hacking attacks and the information that’s been released.”
The YouTube clip that criticises the Queensland government’s laws aimed at reducing the power of bikie gangs ends with the words: Expect us.
It’s unclear what “expect us” will mean in this case, but the video does point out that it’s a slogan, not a threat.
But the Queensland government has been vocal in its criticism.
One minister, Scott Emerson, has described the video as “disturbing”.
Police minister Jack Dempsey warns police are investigating the clip, which he says was made by gutless cowards who have to hide behind a mask.
RMIT’s Mark Gregory says that reaction is hardly surprising and releasing the clip under the banner of Anonymous may backfire.
“So ultimately, the way that Anonymous works – by hacking and breaking into databases – this is ultimately an illegal activity. So in this case the government in Queensland and the Premier will be able to take the moral high ground and indicate, quite rightly, that they are subject to attack by this lawless group.”