A Tasmanian voluntary assisted dying advocate has seen her campaign and personal social media accounts breached by a cyber attack.
Natalie Gray and her sister Jacqui are behind the Your Choice Tas campaign which seeks to see VAD legalised in Tasmania as an end of life choice to honour a wish of their late mother Diane.
Shortly after Your Choice Tas and the Greens released a joint media statement on July 23, the campaign’s Instagram account and Natalie’s personal Facebook account were subject to a security breach which resulted in both accounts being deleted.
Ms Gray said she had also received notifications about numerous attempts to hack her email account.
“We have received some local IT assistance and can confirm the hack occurred from a Hobart IP address,” she said.
“I have attempted to contact Facebook on more than 20 occasions as well as receiving some assistance from a few local politicians in the hopes of retrieving my page, as it also contains 13 years worth of treasured memories I had shared with my mum prior to her passing.
“Facebook have responded with unhelpful automated emails advising I posted violent or threatening graphics and they would not liaise with me any further.”
Ms Gray believes her accounts were targeted because she is the principal petitioner on an e-petition which calls on the Parliament to support the forthcoming End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020.
The bill will be tabled in the upper house by Mersey independent MLC Mike Gaffney later this year.
“I believe this would be why the attack was made on my page, in the hopes to destroy our campaign page which has gained so much traction of late,” Ms Gray said.
Ms Gray said she and her sister would not let this deter their campaign.
“Our campaign represents kindness, compassion and integrity, and we believe everyone’s opinions on both sides of the debate should be respectful and also respected,” she said.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said in recent weeks she had seen opponents to the bill become desperate and ramping up their campaign of fear and mistruths.
“It seems as if somebody has resorted to taking their opposition a step further – hours after a media release was issued with Natalie’s name on it she was subjected to cyber attack from a local source,” Ms O’Connor said.
“The overwhelming community support for this reform is clear, so this type of attack will only further motivate the campaign to make VAD legal.
“We hope the community will rally around Natalie and show their support for the campaign to enact a safe, legal framework for dying with dignity in Tasmania.
“The best thing you can do right now is to make sure you sign the Parliament e-petition before it closes at midnight on Thursday.”
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Ms O’Connor said every time dying with dignity legislation had come before the Parliament the pattern had become the same with opponents resorting to increasingly desperate tactics as debate on the bill approached.
“It’s so disappointing to see this escalated, and highly regrettable that Natalie has had to bear the brunt of this when the work she is doing is all about other people and she is still grieving from the death of her mother last year,” she said.
Mr Gaffney said Natalie and Jacqui had worked exceptionally hard on the VAD cause in honour of their mother.
“If this security breach is indeed attributable to Natalie’s involvement with the passage of the VAD bill that is a terrible indictment on the person responsible for this cyber-attack and I hope whoever it was, does get caught,” Mr Gaffney said.
“As a politician, nominating for public life does mean at times we bear the brunt of someone’s dissatisfaction or differing opinion, however to attack one of these hardworking, courageous ladies’ personal Facebook account and the Your Choice Tas Instagram page is definitely not appropriate and I would think most Tasmanians would agree.”
Mr Gaffney said fortunately the majority of people who had contacted him who may not be supportive of the bill had made their case in a very respectful manner.