Traf­fic sign hacked by of­fen­sive, dirty pun


A dirty pun dis­played on a hacked lit-up traf­fic sign de­lighted or hor­ri­fied ear­ly­morn­ing com­muters in Beach Haven on Tues­day.

The two-part mes­sage was a reli­gious slur, in­volv­ing the de­scrip­tion of a sex­ual act, and shar­ing it has landed a Hamil­ton City coun­cil­lor in hot wa­ter.

North Shore ward coun­cil­lor Richard Hills alerted Auck­land Trans­port to the hack via Twit­ter at 7.50am on Novem­ber 21.

Hills, who dubbed it ‘‘Sign­gate’’ said, although some saw it as a bit of fun, it was clearly not an ap­pro­pri­ate mes­sage for peo­ple to read on their way to work or school.

‘‘I’ve spo­ken to Auck­land Trans­port and they’ve talked to the con­trac­tor and they’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing how it hap­pened and how to pre­vent sim­i­lar colourful mes­sages from ap­pear­ing again.’’

Auck­land Trans­port’s Mark Han­nan said the sign was turned away from traf­fic within 15 min­utes of the coun­cil agency be­ing alerted. This sign is con­trolled by the con­trac­tor who is in­ves­ti­gat­ing how it hap­pened and pass-codes to the sign are be­ing changed, he said.

‘‘Auck­land Trans­port apol­o­gises for any of­fence, this is to­tally un­ac­cept­able.’’

Hamil­ton coun­cil­lor Mark Bunt­ing, who sent the sign as ‘‘joke’’ to a free­lance jour­nal­ist, play­ing on her sur­name, faces a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing on Fri­day.

The woman who re­ceived the mes­sage, Hamil­ton-based free­lance jour­nal­ist An­gela Cum­ing, said the mes­sage showed a ‘‘ter­ri­ble lack of judge­ment’’.

Bunt­ing said, in a Twit­ter post on Tues­day evening, that he sent the mes­sage pri­vately ‘‘to some­one whom I thought was a mate’’ and felt ter­ri­ble.

A video of the sign was also shared by Matt Paint­ing on the Beach Haven and Birk­dale Com­mu­nity Face­book page. The video, which dis­played both parts of the mes­sage, got 558 likes, 321 shares and hun­dreds of com­ments be­fore an ad­min­is­tra­tor turned off com­ment­ing.

The in­ci­dent caught the at­ten­tion of Ge­orge FM, Hau­raki, NewsHub, an Aus­tralia MTV site and was shared on Sh** Towns of New Zea­land’s Face­book page.

While most of the com­ment thread on Paint­ing’s video saw a funny side to the hack, many ac­knowl­edged it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate and in­sen­si­tive, par­tic­u­larly for Chris­tian peo­ple and young chil­dren on their way to school.

A hacker man­aged to change the mes­sage of a lit-up road sign to an of­fen­sive one, in Beach Haven.

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