back to article NZ internet filter goes live - gov forgets to tell public

New Zealand’s internet filtering system went live last month – but the government forgot to mention this to its electorate until its hand was forced by online freedom campaign, Tech Liberty. Thomas Beagle, a spokesman for the group, said he was "very disappointed that the filter is now running" and that its launch had been …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    "The list is maintained by the Independent Reference Group which actively reviews banned URLs each month to eliminate false positives."

    How can they do that if all the ISPs are filtering out the banned URLs?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      How can they do that if all the ISPs are filtering out the banned URLs?

      same way I access NSFW websites while in the office, allow *my* IP address to access the internet unfiltered.

      in this case (and in the case of all countries) the people enforcing the law will operate outside that law because they *need* to enforce it. Example, *YOU* are not allowed to carry or store drugs.... but doesn't the police move drugs around and store drugs until they are done with them as evidence?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    People download child porn from websites

    Step 1.) Ban access to the websites

    Step 2.) People download child porn via means which are more difficult to track.

    Step 3.) Ban the more difficult to track options

    Step 4.) Go to step 2.

    Not one kiddie fiddler will go without their child porn fix.

    Seriously, what is the point? If it's to protect people from accidently viewing the material, then it should be optional, not manditory. I for one don't need protecting from viewing distasteful pictures.

  3. Ryan Barrett

    SSL gets past it

    Was on holiday there last month, and must say I noticed something was wrong. Lots of stuff only works via SSH tunnels back to UK (or via US).

  4. P Zero


    Dick move, New Zealand. Dick move.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aussie list had 2395, then 1061, then 500

    Aussie list shrivelled when put under scrutiny:

    "The list contains some 2,395 sites about half of which do not contain child sexual abuse images. It includes online poker sites, fetish, satanic and Christian sites, Wikipedia pages, gay and straight pornography, a travel operator and even the website for a Queensland dentist."

    Then the ACMA denied that it was the actual list (whose to prove they are lying since the list is secret?) and claimed to only have 1061 URLs.

    Then the UK's IWF in it's report said that their list was at an all time low of 500

    Both IWF and NZ censor claim to be censoring the SAME thing yet 500 is not the SAME as 7000 and hence one or other is lying.

    So which if the secret committees to censor things is lying? And is it safe for a democracy to have liars making secret censor lists?

    I think this cannot end well.

  6. Chris Hatfield

    How long before they block Wikileaks

    Suppose Wikileaks produces documentation proving wrong-doings high up in the NZ political system. What if it gets added to the filter?

    Isn't this going to push the pedos underground?

    1. Big-nosed Pengie

      Isn't this going to push the paedos underground?

      (Fixed the spelling for you)

      No. They're already underground. It's not going to make any difference to them.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    'Chief Censor'?

    Seriously? Wow.

    1. Pablo


      At least they're upfront about it, too bad they weren't about the filter.

    2. Ascylto


      This smacks of the Catholic Church's Index of Banned Books.

      Oh, wait, they've been done for fiddling with kids, too!

  8. Lionel Baden

    Fucking Dickwads

    This is fucking Horrible !!!

    And this is also gettinng me quite angry so i will leave my comments just infront of the keyboard !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Well that's interesting. So changing your DNS could conceivably put the Chief Inquisitor^HCensor out of the loop?

    Oh, and any thoughts of getting foreign, qualified IT people to work in NZ is probably a pipe dream going forward. Have fun playing with the No. 8 wire down there, I think I'll stay in the civilized part of the world.

  10. The Original Ash

    Seven thousand?

    Howcome Aus has 10x more than the IWF? Are their definitions different?

    Is the IWF or Aus at fault? Surely child abuse is child abuse, and there's not a lot more to be decided...

    1. Big-nosed Pengie


      Child abuse? This has nothing to do with child abuse.

      The mainstream churches, Save the Children and a host of other people and organisations who actually know what they're talking about have said time and time again that this will make things easier for the kiddie fiddlers.

      This is about religious and political censorship, pure and simple.

  11. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Down


    "Cynics have also noted that the launch of the filter comes not long before the eighth round of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations, due to take place in Wellington, New Zealand in April."

    How long before music blogs and such like quietly end up on this list of filth and depravity?

  12. Mark S 1

    It's the basic concept that's wrong...

    Yes, sure, some internet content is loathsome, potentially harmful, illegal, etc. No argument, but I must have missed the part where the government of a representative democracy has shown this to have actually caused serious harm to its citizenry.

    To let a government, any government, acquire the ability to look over our shoulders to see what we're reading, and pro-actively and secretly block off sites of its choice, is not what happens in countries whose rulers hold a basic respect for its citizens, their intelligence, rights and freedoms. Does anyone imagine that the list of blacklisted sites and topics will become shorter with time? Give anyone unchecked power and it WILL be abused.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The real question for me is,...

    who in govt sees who tried to access what website, and which size of boots will they use to kick down your door at dawn?

    Methinks Amnesty Int.l will be busy in NZ for a few years to come

  14. Jeff Deacon
    Big Brother

    Just out of interest ...

    Just out of interest in this minefield of stat-porn, does anyone have an idea of the number of sites blocked by the Chinese to protect their citizens against the very same sort of evil?

  15. JPatrick
    Black Helicopters

    Crude censorship?

    Reminds me of when I was living in a certain Middle Eastern country (almost pre internet days) we could get English language magazines, but they were censored with black markers! There must have been a room of people somewhere making sure naughty images and words didn't get through... of course things did. Annoyingly the markers often went through on to multiple pages.....

    You couldn't help feeling that those who wanted 'naughty' stuff would quite easily get around this rather crude censorship.

    The same is true today, this country wide filter will do nothing more than encourage people to use more sophisticated means of getting their 'fix'. This will surely make the authorities job of proving someone had been using illicit sites that much harder? Encryption technologies and sophisticated software to hide what you're up to is where people will go and then we will have a hard time prosectuting suspected offenders.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What's even more of a problem...

    ...even here in the UK, and every other country that thinks it can control such things, is the inevitable lack of public involvement.

    Ten years ago or more, if I'd accidentally encountered child porn, I'd have instantly informed my isp and any relevant authorities. In these days of knee-jerk legislation and cheap-pinch policing, I wouldn't dare. I'd erase my tracks as best I could and keep my mouth shut.

    In fact, it's becoming increasingly likely that many of the 'paedos' caught by the plod these days are those who have simply chanced upon dodgy images or are victims of malware, and have no idea how to clean their caches and HDs. How often have we seen reports of prosecution 'expert' claims that no-one can have images on their HDs that they don't know about - something anyone who's owned a PC for more than a month knows is pure rubbish.

    The real offenders are far smarter.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they had to publish a list of the bans

    then paedos the world over would know exactly where to go for their latest haul of CP!

    1. GrantB

      I wondered about that

      It is a classic case of security via obscurity. I presume that numerous techo's and filtering agencies have the list, and it will just take one person or company to let it out and all the secrecy will be for nothing. The bad guys might even be circulating the list - how would you know?

      The secrecy is probably more about them not wanting lots of eyes analyzing the list and finding out how useless it is. I would suspect that the bad guys in NZ (or elsewhere) would be pretty damm stupid to try and use it to find the kiddy porn as access to these sites will obviously be monitored.

      If a URL to some evil site is known by government agencies, you have to think they should just go after the site via normal international police agencies and systems, rather than trying to block access to it one country at a time.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All for blocking some of the sick sites, especially those targeting young people like the pro anorexia and pro self harm stuff. Children need to be protected.

    Obviously clever people can get round it but if it covers 90% then its done its job.

    1. Galidron
      Thumb Down

      90% ??

      It is unlikely to stop any children over the age of 10 getting to such material. It will only stop people who barely know how to use the internet.

    2. Big-nosed Pengie


      Oh yes. Censorship works. Every time.

      Next I suggest that we put a prohibition on alcohol sales. That'll work just as well.

      1. Charley 1

        Well, prohibition worded with marijuana

        Oh, wait.

        No, it didn't.

    3. Skipraider

      @Ian 45

      If you believe 'official' sources then all paedophiles/terrorists/[insert name of current threat here] are extremely clever, devious, technically astute folk, so they would all fall into the remaining 10%.

    4. Goat Jam

      Such charming naivete

      Good to see there is still some left in the world

    5. Mos Eisley Spaceport


      Don't feed the trolls!!

  19. A B 3


    It's convenient they all start filtering at the same time. So much for democratically electing your goverment. They appear to have a global agenda, doesn't matter which party you vote for.

    Give them 2 years and they will be targeting all pornography, a nice China styled internet censorship.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ... they'll end up censoring anything and everything that isn't 'nayce'...

  20. Peter 42

    Only legal smut now?

    So, living in NZ, does this filter mean that if I view a site it's not illegal? Obviously all the illegal sites have been filtered away - so any smut I can view via the web, I can't be prosecuted for?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    down to zero

    I leave you all alone for a short while and this is what you come up with? A wellywood sign (cringe) and "thefilter".. I used to to think you were a forward thinking people after I read about the whitehouse but now I think you have lost your guide. Sad. So sad.

  22. blod
    Big Brother

    This is a part of a more general approach

    They are slipping the censorship idea through the back door, under the pretense of protecting our children.

    Once the mechanism is up, it's just a matter of deciding which sites to block.

    So sure, some sites break the law, but who knows what the law is going to be in a few years? Today it's child pornography, understandable, tomorrow the book publishers push for a law that makes it illegal for you to order books from international sites, because it violates some obscure copyright law, and then you can't access Amazon anymore.

    Does that sound so inconceivable?

    And I'm not even talking about the danger of outlawing political views, which is a pretty standard example.

    1. Peter 42


      I can't really see your scenario developing. Obviously in the future, if any new types of sites need to be blocked, there'll be a public and transparent process, a public consultation and referendum, and a cool, calm and logical decision arrived at in a democratic manner.

  23. Edward Clarke


    The article says it uses border gateway protocol. This has nothing to do with URLs or DNS as the unit will block routing to specific IP addresses without consulting a name server. A proxy server outside of the blocking router should bypass the filter completely. A VPN will do the same thing.

    Or am I missing something here?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    More to come I hope

    Great work by the New Zealand Government - There is absolutely no good reason why there should not be a ban. Since its been in place for some time, it appears the governance model and false positive management is working as designed.

    Democracy does not mean lack of censorship. There is plenty of media censorship in pretty much every democracy of the world.

  25. Maty

    its not about pornography

    It's about government taking control of the internet. The fact that there is such a large and dynamic development doing things for human productivity without government oversight cannot be allowed to continue.

    It must be regulated, licensed and taxed. We need a Ministry of internet affairs, and users should buy their IP numbers from the government as they get car number plates today. Then there should be an annual tax on internet users to pay for the effort of keeping netizens safe from porn and terrorism, which should be raised by at least ten percent a year over inflation.

    This was always going to happen, but it was nice for a while whilst it didn't. The filters are step one. The rest is coming.

  26. Unlimited

    No major ISP uses it

    Worth noting that currently, only 2 minor ISPs use the filter.

  27. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Thin edge of the wedge

    Today kiddie nasties...

    Tomorrow porno...

    Next year political association....

    It's gonna be dark soon, and they mostly hunt at night. Mostly. ...

  28. Steve Roper

    And there I was

    considering moving to New Zealand to escape our Aussie firewall bullshit... at least OUR politicians don't hide the fact that they're trying to control our lives!

    OK, New Zealand's out. What price Canada? Are they in on this Western-democracy-turned-Orwellian-police-state bullshit as well, or dare I ask if it's safe for an enterprising Aussie to come over there?

    Mate, Cambodia's looking pretty good right about now...

  29. elderlybloke
    Big Brother

    Like in the USSR

    There were a lot of secret laws that existed and anyone who enquired about the law about a subject that had to do with State Security,Industrial Espionage or similar , would be paid a visit by the NKVD or KGB.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    So the abuse goes on?

    So they have 7000 child abuse sites and they want to stop people going to those sites rather than stop all those children being abused?

    Wouldn't it be much better for the children if they actually went after the people who upload and maintain those sites? Instead of spending all that money introducing net filters and paying a select few to look at child porn on a monthly basis, they should be talking to the countries where those servers are located, talking to the the registrars, setting up man in the middle attacks and finding the bastards who are creating the child porn - at least that way some children might actually be saved. This is more like turning a blind eye.

    So logically this has nothing whatsoever to do with saving children from abuse but just a way of introducing a mechanism for information control.

    Anyone set a date for the revolution yet?

  31. Tony Paulazzo
    Big Brother

    Thinking of the children

    Don't two thirds of the worlds children live in warzones, or starving, dying from lack of clean water, living in a dictatorship?

    Just saying, is all.

  32. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    As Einstein didn't quite say,

    "If you knew what we were suppressing, it would not be censorship, would it?"

    (He actually said, it's claimed, "If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Cute, hmm?)

  33. Noodle

    Laughable really..

    Unless I am misreading this, the filter applies only to websites / URLs. So it will have no effect on any other method of obtaining dodgy material, e.g. peer-to-peer networks, so whats stopping anyone of a mind to from just using bittorrent or whatever instead?

    Seems like a huge amount of bureaucratic meddling to produce a pretty negligible result in the end, while simultaneously shuffling in a secretive piece of government censorship that is potentially open to abuse in the years to come.

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