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Government plans to filter New Zealand Internet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2009 12:45

I am a member of the InternetNZ and I have just been reading its internal mailing list about the frightening possibility of Internet filtering coming to New Zealand, courtesy of our Department of Internal Affairs.

There's a good FAQ on Internet Filtering in New Zealand out there and I will quote a couple of items:


New Zealand’s censorship laws forbid viewing or owning certain types of material (e.g. depictions of bestiality or sex with children) and this applies to material accessed over the internet too.

At this moment it [New Zealand] does not [have Internet filtering]. However, the Department of Internal Affairs ran a trial internet filtering scheme in conjunction with Ihug, Watchdog, Maxnet and TelstraClear in 2007/2008 and is planning to fully implement it in 2009/2010.

[There is now ["Internet Filtering Law"]. [The filtering] it is being done under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This gives the responsibility for enforcement to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The scheme is currently voluntary for the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as there is no law to force them to use it.

The filter is applied at the level of the IP address but it is common for a web server to host multiple websites on a single IP address. All requests to a website on one of the filtered IP addresses will be diverted to the DIA’s server.

ISPs can choose whether to subscribe to it or not. The only way [for a person] to opt-out of the filtering is by switching to an ISP that doesn’t implement it. ISPs that have implemented it so far have not provided a way to opt out of it.


The list of sites is manually compiled by DIA officers. They will update the list monthly and only after the review and agreement of a few officers.

Initially they plan to filter any website carrying child abuse related material.

Here is a series of questions sent to the DIA under the Official Information Act 2002 with respective answers.

I personally don't like the idea of a government body overseeing what I can read. It's my personal believes that prevent me visiting websites that carry this kind of material.

What really worries me is that it looks like there isn't an oversight of this process, there isn't a publicly available list of blacklisted websites, and no guarantees that a secret meeting between government agencies wouldn't in the future add other "categories" to this list.

Internet filtering gives the government - any government - the resources they need or want to prevent people connecting to each other by the means of the Internet, one of the most liberating tools available to its citizens.

If you are a grown up you don't need a nanny state to tell you what you can read or not. You know you shouldn't be reading or trading this kind of material. If you still decide to access, promote and distribute any objectionable material, then feel free to join these other offenders.

If you have kids at home there are software - such as the free Microsoft Windows Live Family Safety - that allows you to help them stay away from objectionable material, while you, responsible parent, educate them on how to use the Internet sensibly.

But I don't think a government should tell me what I can see or read because of some criminals who have no common sense.

Burning books was bad. Breaking the Internet may be worse.

UPDATE: Scroll down in the comments, where I posted a copy of the New Zealand DIA press release issued 16 July 2009.

UPDATE: I also recommend you read foobar's take on this issue.

UPDATE: Telecom has released a document on how to keep kids safe on the Internet.


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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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