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Government plans to filter the Internet in New Zealand - now in full official draft

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2009 18:09

After a lot of comments and exposure on the whole "Internet filtering in New Zealand", the Department of Internal Affairs has released its draft proposal. You can download the document here (pdf link).

The document is officially entitled "Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System".

2.4 A person who views a website containing chid sexual abuse images is in possession of those images, if only for the period they appear on the screen.  The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System therefore will help prevent inadvertent exposure to these images and will also help prevent New Zealanders from committing crimes.

Ok, so the DIA makes it clear what the filtering system is for.

4.3.1 The list is reviewed monthly, manually, to ensure that it is up to date and that the possibility of false positives is removed.  

4.3.2 Additions are only made to the list with the agreement of at least 3 warranted inspectors of publications that the material on the website meets the criterion that they explicitly show children being sexually abused.  

4.3.3 All sites on the list are visited and have a report that identifies the investigating officer and what he or she saw on the site when it was last reviewed.

So there goes our fears of rogue governments filtering any site that is against its policies and dare to speak up.

5.2.1 The Department will institute an Independent Reference Group (IRG) to maintain oversight of the operation of the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System to ensure it is operated with integrity and adheres to the principles set down in this Code of Practice.

Good move. Someone needs to police the police.

This is what someone visiting one of the blocked sites will see:

Child Exploitation Filtering System

6.6 If a requester considers that they have been wrongly blocked from visiting a legitimate website then they can click on the link to the Website Appeal page to fill in an appeal.

Sounds good. It's easy to notify the list managers if there's something you think is wrongly blocked.

7. Data
7.1 What data is collected?
7.1.1 During the course of the filtering process the Department logs the following information regarding a request for a blocked website:
• Connection Number - relates to the number allocated to an ISP when it is included on the system and the type of connection eg. GIF2.
• Local IP – represents the IP address of the user – this is anonymised to protect the identity of the requester.
• Request - encompasses 2 fields: the Originating Site and the Requested Site.
• Remote IP - relates to the address of the remote site, this uses random numbers to ensure the Department cannot track it back.

7.2 What is the data used for
7.2.1 The collection of this data is necessary so that the system is able to be reviewed to ensure 24-hour 365-day uptime and no loss of business due to a technical glitch or fault, for ISPs who join the system.  

7.2.2 The logs are used to troubleshoot the connections between the Department’s system and the ISP.  As we are providing a service to a commercial organisation, it is our responsibility to ensure that the Department is able to offer the same level of service expected of any commercial enterprise.  

7.2.3 As no identifiable information is stored about the user requesting a website, this data cannot be used in support of any investigation or enforcement activity undertaken by the Department.  However, the data will be used for statistical and reporting purposes, for example to inform the Department of the level of demand in New Zealand for child sexual abuse images.  

Sounds too much information about a user's IP just for "troubleshooting the connections".

8.2 The Department also acknowledges that website filtering systems are not 100% effective in preventing access to illegal material.  A person with a reasonable level of technical skill can use tools that are freely available on the Internet to get around the filters.

8.3 As illegal material, such as child sexual abuse images, is most often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chatrooms, which will not be filtered, the Censorship Compliance Unit carries out active investigations in those spaces.

The DIA confirms what most tech savvy people knows: the trade of this kind of content is done under strict secrecy using protocols that are not being filtered. The DIA will continue to investigate (as they already do) and prosecute (well done).

This filter is just to prevent good people like you and me coming across this kind of material by accident - or to prevent 2.4 of happening.

In all a good cause. I was just expecting another paragraph there saying "This code is to make it clear no other type of content will be added to the filtered system at later stage".

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Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

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

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