Last week we announced that the New Zealand internet filter had "gone live" and was now being used to filter the connections for users of two ISPs (Watchdog and Maxnet), with more expected to follow.
The obvious question has to be, why was Tech Liberty announcing something that the Department of Internal Affairs had done? Where was their announcement that the filter had gone live on the 1st of February? Don't civil servants have a duty to communicate to the people that they serve?
We'd like to welcome our first guest author, Gerard Creamer. He's written an article that explains some of the security risks inherent in implementing a centralised filtering system. It's a little more technical than most of the articles we publish; we hope you find it interesting.
The Department of Internal Affairs has admitted that the internet filter is now operational and is already being used by ISPs Maxnet and Watchdog. It appears that Maxnet have not told their customers that they are diverting some of their internet traffic to the government system to be filtered.
Thomas Beagle, spokesperson for Tech Liberty, "We're very disappointed that the filter is now running, it's a sad day for the New Zealand internet."
One of the big questions about the implementation of internet filtering in New Zealand has been ... when? We've made a number of Official Information Act requests to the Department of Internal Affairs and the answer has always been "in the next couple of months".
In a letter written on January the 20th, the DIA told us that they will be making an announcement regarding the implementation of the filter "in the near future". Well over a month later there has been no announcement.
We are opposed to the Government implementing Internet filtering in New Zealand.
By now you've probably heard about the government's plans to filter the internet in New Zealand. It's coming soon to an internet connection near you.
At Tech Liberty we believe that:
- the filtering won't work to stop the production and distribution of offensive material.
- that it poses a risk to the security and stability of the New Zealand internet.
- that filtering is the wrong approach and will inevitably be misused in the future.
We want the filter stopped.
We're looking for other people who feel the same way to join us in forming a coalition to oppose the implementation of the filter.
Join the coalition
If you want to be part of the it, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us how you'd like to get involved and what you can do. We're going to need all the help we can get.
Sign up in support
If you want to register your support and be on the mailing list, send us an email at email@example.com and ask to be added to the internet filtering mail list.
When the internet filter was announced, one of our primary objections was that it was a secret censorship scheme. The list of banned sites was kept secret and there was no oversight of the entries on the list. As the experience of Australia and the UK has shown, this tends to lead to abuse as sites are blocked for no good reason. It also conflicts with the general thrust of the rest of NZ's censorship regime in which all decisions must be published.
Being believers in open and accountable government, we made a request under the Official Information Act for a copy of the filtering list and the inspector's reports that were used to justify adding sites to the list.
The Department of Internal Affairs refused our request for a copy of the list:
Why is Tech Liberty opposed to an Internet filter that is claimed to block access to child pornography?
We have been asked this question from time to time, with the unspoken implication that by opposing the filter we are unwilling for something to be done about it, or that we are monsters who support such material. We do not support the production or distribution of such material. While we believe that free speech is an important value that should not be lightly overridden, we also accept the right of societies to choose to censor.
The production and distribution of child pornography are serious crimes that should be eradicated but that does not mean that any solution should be immediately deployed without question. In this post we attempt to debunk some of the popular myths about Internet filtering.
There have been recent claims that access to a number of international websites was deliberately blocked for New Zealand internet users.
Clare Swinney at InfoNews writes that Orcon, Slingshot and Telecom have blocked access to infowar.com and prisonplanet.tv, sites run by documentary maker and conspiracist Alex Jones.
Internet NZ has released a position paper (PDF) that rejects the governments's planned internet filtering scheme. Jordan Carter, InternetNZ Policy Director:
InternetNZ supports a safe environment for people online, and absolutely deplores the availability and use of child abuse material, However, a government filtering system, centrally operated, is not the answer.
The report says that the proposed filtering system: