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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Computer hackers disabled several Australian government websites Wednesday in coordinated attacks protesting against a planned internet filter aimed at pornography.
The attacks, confirmed by the Attorney-General's Department, crippled Australia's parliamentary website for almost an hour, including the Communications Department, which is pushing a compulsory internet filter for pornography and offensive content.
The attacks were launched by hackers aligned with an anti-Church of Scientology group known as "Anonymous."
"No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be 'unwanted'," the group said in an email.
"The Australian government will learn that one does not mess with our porn."
Australia's center-left government, which faces elections later this year, has promised an internet filter which would block a list of banned websites, including child abuse material and pornography. Laws will be introduced to parliament soon.
Australia's sex industry claims pornographic films are being rejected by censors because they star small-breasted women who could be confused as minors and appear underaged.
A poll this week by McNair Ingenuity Research for the state broadcaster found 80 percent of the 1,000 respondents backed the filter plan, which is strongly opposed by free speech groups.
The Communications Department said the hackers had not infiltrated government security, but had instead swamped government computer servers.
"Australian Parliament House website (www.aph.gov.au) was unavailable this morning for approximately 50 minutes due to a distributed denial of service attack by individuals belonging to the "Anonymous" group. It is now back on line," a spokeswoman said.
Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Nick Macfie