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Internet NZ rejects government internet filter

Posted on February 4, 2010

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:

  • Will make the New Zealand internet less robust by introducing a single point of failure - whether it fails by accident or by being attacked.
  • Is open to unwanted scope creep where more and more types of material are added to the filter.
  • Will be ineffective at stopping the distribution of child pornography, as admitted by the Department of Internal Affairs (due to most of it being distributed by peer to peer file sharing, that the filter is ineffective against).
  • Is not subject to the same checks and balances that apply to all other parts of New Zealand's censorship regime.

From the report:

Such filtering disrupts the end-to-end Internet; puts in place a technology that can be used for purposes that are incompatible with a free and democratic society; and creates a risk that, even if introduced as a voluntary system, the filter may well end up covering all Internet users in New Zealand and/or be mandated. In general, InternetNZ prefers that citizens are educated about the availability and quality of filtering services and offered these services by their service providers.

Tech Liberty is pleased to see that Internet NZ has rejected the filter on both technical and philosophical grounds, and agrees that the best filtering approach is for concerned people to implement their own.

We call upon the government to take these concerns seriously and reconsider its plans to introduce internet filtering in New Zealand.

Disclosure: Thomas Beagle was part of the Policy Advisory Group that worked on developing Internet NZ's position on internet filtering.

Posted by Thomas Beagle

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Why does this not suprise me, have internet NZ actually ever done anything or dared to actually make a statement

  2. Joseph – I’m not sure what you’re referring to, seeing as the article links to the position paper prepared by Internet NZ. They also put out a press release that was picked up by some of the media.

  3. internetnz group have made that statement you are correct there. but I believe that the statement it is too hard to tackle is a cop out. All the press releases from the DIA have said it is in response to the publics requests for such a system which I assume comes from complaints with the classic tag at the bottom, cant you guys just block these sites.

    you call it a single point of failure but it ran for 2 years with no failure. It is (from reading other peoples posts on different sites so dont quote me on this) operating via bgp which is the backbone of the internet. therefore it cant fail if it stops working the old information will come into force.

    the fact you print the single point of failure comment shows you dont understand the technical side of the problem and if I go out on a limb here are being reckless trying to persuade people to listen to you when you dont understand the project.

    Other sites have stated and I believe your compleat site stated there is an oversight group and reporting for sites how can there be scope creep with this level of scrutiny, highlighting yet again you (and possibly the internetnz team) are not fully understanding the procedural and technical side.

    Why not take a stand and support something that could and most likely will help, hell to me if it stops 1 child from not being abused by there relative or a stranger then to me its worth it.

  4. I am one of the people involved in founding TechLiberty. My credentials to say that it will not and does not work are based on working in a technical capacity for multiple ISPs and telcos, in a design capacity on critical New Zealand Internet infrastructure, and more than 13 years involvement in InternetNZ policy. I have also appeared before Select Committees on legislation relating to computer crimes.

    The IRG (the oversight group) was only added to structure after many groups raised issues with the design of the filtering. To say that InternetNZ do not understand the design, when the IRG was at the behest of InternetNZ (something the DIA have publically acknowledged), seems to be out of step with the history of the project.

    With respect, the filter will not stop a single child being abused. The DIA have stated this themselves, this isn’t something we’ve invented, the very people who are attempting to implement this filter acknowledge it will not stop abuse at all.

    If it will not stop abuse, and it doesn’t work, why is it being implemented? Theatrics. Being seen to be doing something. Nothing more.

    In terms of how long the filter has been running in test mode, it has not been running two years. There was a brief 3-month test with a very small group of ISPs. That testing was not of the complete system, either, only a minimal setup that would not have scaled to full production levels.

    With regards to BGP problems, I would draw your attention to Pakistan taking out Youtube for a significant percentage of the world, as a result of just injecting some BGP routes for blocking. It is *not* a clean or reliable method of blocking or interception.

    Lastly, the filter’s scope as you’ve admitted it defined by “public pressure”. The public do not understand that the filter is not a cure-all to all material. However, it will have pressure on it (as has happened in Australia) to be used to suppress political views and material which is entirely legal.

    There are many steps parents can take to reduce exposure to their children of all kinds of material (not just illegal), all of them more effective and reliable than a centralised government-run filter. And there are many things the DIA are doing to combat child abuse images. But the filter just gives parents a false sense of safety, and diverts valuable resources that do combat abuse into something that just plain does not work.

  5. Yes pakistan stuffed up but that error was human not system based THEY instructed the system to advertise themselves as the best route the system didn’t just dream that one up.

    they (the DIA) have said in the news this is not a silver bullet, they did not say it would not stop abuse. This method of filtering is alot better than other systems available such as proxying or dns spoofing especially when you compare overheads and time of effectiveness.

    I don’t believe the filter gives anyone a false sense of security as it has been stated in the media by other well read people the best method is education. that is why other organisations such as Netsafe exist.

    All media reports state the trial ran for 2 years, a very small bunch of ISPs is that what you call IHUG and Telstra what exactly is it you do again.

    To comment on your statement of what ifs relating to the scope. you haven’t even given it a chance you have purely dismissed it saying it will creep. why not wait for the IRG to report then comment. It seems childish to complain before something happens and again just because it is difficult is no reason not to do it.

  6. NZ goverment wants to protect us from the world’s evils. Lets all bury our heads in the sand.

  7. In the last week we have suddenly had many of our clients on our international hosting accounts not able to recieve their emails and not able to be able to see their web sites. This was really hard to work out as at our office we were able to see all the sites and get all the test emails from all the servers.
    It wasn’t untill tonight that we found that Orcon are one of the three that are not on the government filter and we are connected through Orcon.
    We have had no disruptions and yet our clients have stated that they feel like their Internet has slowed down over the last week. Is that just coincidental that the filter went live on 11th March about the same time that all our troubles started.
    Our problem is that there is very little that we can do about it.


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