Taiwan’s Apple Daily yesterday issued a statement condemning the hacking of the Next Media Group’s (壹傳媒集團) Web sites earlier yesterday, saying that it was a severe infringement on media liberty and political oppression against Hong Kongers’ efforts toward democracy.
The Apple Daily statement said there was reason to believe that the attacks originated from China and were meant to batter the determination of Hong Kongers to achieve democracy, and to attack the pro-general elections Next Media Group, because the electronic voting system set up to gather support for general elections in Hong Kong had also gone down.
“The attack on the Apple Daily today shows that no other media would be safe unless they, like Chinese media, delivered the same message [as other Chinese media],” the statement said.
“Taiwan should take heed of what is happening to Hong Kong as it is very possibly what Taiwan would face [should it become assimilated into China],” it added.
The statement said the Apple Daily would not bow down to oppression and would not deviate from its stance of supporting democracy, adding that it would do its best to get the Web site up and running, and use every possible channel available at its disposal, such as YouTube and Facebook fan pages, to send out its news stories.
Apple Daily (Taiwan) president Eric Chen (陳裕鑫) said that due to attacks in February, the group had already reinforced its defenses against hacking, but the attack this time was stronger than any other attempts previously seen and it overwhelmed the system.
“The DPP’s [Democratic Progressive Party] longstanding position is that the government is obligated to protect the stability and security of the flow of information of all media outlets and platforms, and the interference of the information flow would be a form of infringement of the freedom of the press, which is not allowed in any democracy,” DPP spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said yesterday.
DPP lawmakers Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) and Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) criticized Beijing’s denial of freedom of the press and its authoritarian rule, calling for Taiwanese to “see the true face of what China is all about.”
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, a cyberattack on a voting Web site threatened to derail an unofficial referendum on democratic reform in Hong Kong, seen as a gauge of the desire for change in the former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, an organizer said late on Tuesday.
The referendum is seen as an important test for pro-democracy activists who believe the public in freewheeling Hong Kong are dissatisfied with the pace of political reform promised by Beijing.
The Web site received “billions of visits” in the run-up to the vote that starts tomorrow, said Benny Tai, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and one of the referendum’s organizers.
Such moves are known as distributed denial-of-service attacks, which aim to overwhelm a Web site with requests so regular that visitors cannot reach it.
“We are considering, if the online system does not work as planned, we may extend the voting time so that we can get as many votes as possible, as planned. We had hoped to get about 200,000 votes, even 300,000,” Tai said. “Nothing will deter us from going on. We will continue.”
Voters would be able to cast ballots at 15 voting stations throughout Hong Kong on Sunday if the Web site is down.
Additional reporing by Chris Wang
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