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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.

Browser wars: Internet Explorer 6 is not going away

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2009 10:41

A few months back I posted that Firefox was the #1 browser here on Geekzone for the first time ever, with Microsoft Internet Explorer coming second.

Of course I expected a bigger number of Firefox (and other browsers) users because of the more tech savvy audience we have - I bet Internet Explorer is way ahead of Firefox in more mainstream New Zealand websites such as Trade Me, Stuff and the NZ Herald for example.

I've looked at the stats again this month and found out that of more than 2.1 million unique visitors in the last three month period, Internet Explorer is again ahead of Firefox. Could it be because of the number of people using Windows 7 RC for testing?

Interesting to see Google Chrome coming up so quickly on Safari.

What really surprised me though is that of those 900,000 unique visitors using Internet Explorer in that same three months, the number of Internet Explorer 6 users is practically the same, with Internet Explorer 8 gaining over Internet Explorer 7 mainly:

This is about 200,000 people visiting Geekzone every three months that still have Internet Explorer 6 as their main browser. I'd again guess this percentage is probably higher on those other mainstream sites.

Does people update their Windows PCs, at all?

Two Degrees Mobile starts TV advertising with Rhys Darby

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jul-2009 19:00

New Zealand's newest mobile network, Two Degrees Mobile, finally coming into the public view with a prime time ad with Rhys Darby of The Flight of the Conchords fame. As expected there's a discussion on Geekzone, and here is the ad:

Moving from Telecom CDMA to Telecom XT

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jul-2009 17:54

After using a Telecom XT SIM card that was sent to me for review I finally decided to move my personal account from their CDMA network to the new XT Network.

A couple of reasons why I did the move: first, moving to equivalent plans I'd be paying about 50% less than on my previous plan - and no term contract!

Second, there are no queues in store now. Moving plans took all of five minutes. I inserted the new SIM card in my handset just after I signed the paperwork - and it was working already. It means my change to XT Network happened even before I moved away from the desk.

Good job!

PS. Now I remember a third reason: I don't need to carry my personal handset and a test handset anymore.

Brand management is important

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jul-2009 08:53

What happens when your company has the rights to sell a product using a third party's branding, but use this other company's branding innapropriately?

You may ended up not having the product to sell at all...

New Air NZ flight safety video (with body painting)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2009 18:03

It looks like the Air New Zealand folks can't keep their clothes on... This time they have produced a new flight safety video to be used on their Boeing 737-300 domestic services (on flights from 29 June 2009):

Update: As noted in the comments there's a bloopers video too:

Adobe shows Flash Player on Android handset

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2009 16:25

I've just uploaded this video showing a Flash Player demo on an Android handset:

Offset your iPhone or iPod

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jun-2009 09:37

A kiwi initiative, AcornHQ allows people to offset the environmental impact of their gadgetry - in this case the focus is on iPhone and iPod devices.

One of the guys from Ponoko decided to create this website where people can donate to plant trees in the New Zealand South Island, to offset the carbon emissions from iPod and iPhone devices. They also have tips and tricks on how to use these devices efficiently from an energy point of view.

The site developer, John Lewis, explains more about this venture on his blog:

At the very core the idea was to promote more environmentally responsible gadget ownership. To start with this means we provide an easy way for people to offset the carbon associated with their iPod or iPhone.

We all love our iPods and iPhones but they do have a very real cost to the environment. Carbon is emitted when your iPod is manufactured, when your iPod is transported from the factory to you, and when you use power to recharge your iPod. How that power is generated to recharge your iPod also has a huge impact.

So you come to AcornHq and join a tree by purchasing a leaf, for US$3.50. Once all the leaves on that tree have been taken, we plant a tree in the South Island to offset those iPods. Trees being most excellent at extracting and absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

You can get a widget and put in your blog so you and others can see your tree grow.

Barcamp Auckland 2009 - register now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Jun-2009 15:11

Barcamp Auckland 2009 is happening 11th July 2009 - time to register for the event folks! You can also follow @barcampauckland updates on Twitter.

The browser is less important - what you do is more important

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Jun-2009 10:17

Every few weeks I receive a few emails that are clearly intended to one of the large telcos in New Zealand. Topics range from "I've asked something from your customer service but nothing happened" to "I want to pay my account number #, using my credit card number #" (yes, people just send their credit card numbers to me!).

I have a theory about this. It's likely that a lot of people have Google (or any other search enghine) as their home page and never heard of "Address bar". Instead they enter "Vodafone" or "Telecom" into the search field on their home page, hit enter and click on the first name (or one of the top) in the results page.

Last week Google went around in New York city asking "What's a browser". This would explain what I have just told you:

Another thing to note is that not knowing exactly what is a browser is not something related to age. Lots of young people show there's no age distinction when it comes to tools and actions.

Also note that at 1:22 the guy says he's switched to Firefox - actually his friend came over and "erased all my other browsers and told me to use this now" and behind him there's a big billboard saying "I'm a PC"...

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

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

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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