New Zealand implements country-wide government internet filter

The New Zealand Government has quietly implemented a country-wide internet filtering system, designed to filter illegal content from the public, such as Beastiality and Child Pornography. The filter is opt-in by ISP's, and is governed by New Zealands "official censors" (Although, according to Ars Technica, you too can be a censor for a day!).

The internet filter system is a manually maintained blacklist of sites, which is kept up to date by government appointed censor officials. ISP's do not have to sign up to the filter, as it is still voluntary, but many ISP's are currently performing tests of the filter before implementation, including TelstraClear, and Vodafone NZ.

"Filtering out child pornography is also very much in line with our company values—our customers would be disappointed to hear if we weren’t participating. So participation for us has always been a no-brainer." said Maxnet CEO John Hanna to Computerworld New Zealand.

Ars Technica reports that the filtering system uses a BSD Unix-based appliance called WhiteBox from Swedish company Netclean, and uses the BGP protocol (Border Gateway Protocol) to advertise itself to ISP's.

The filter was implemented quietly, and without notification beginning in February 2010, and many are not happy about this. A group called "Tech Liberty" have spoken up, and have noted that the filter has it's faults, and is very easy to bypass. According to Thomas Beagle, head of Tech Liberty:

  • The filter can’t intercept encrypted web traffic (https). It’s not hard to change your website from non-secure http to secure https. And, if you do, the DIA filter server can’t intercept it.
  • The filter can’t intercept the file sharing, email, chat, instant messaging or anything other than unencrypted web traffic. (Although it does intercept people accessing those services via websites.)
  • Adding new entries to the filter is a manual process. When websites are so easy and quick to set up, we don’t see how it’s possible for them to do a good enough job to keep the filter list up to date enough.
  • The filter will only be used by some ISPs. If a number of major ISPs don’t use the filter, is there any point in implementing it for the ones that do?
  • A motivated person can easily get around the filter. It is relatively trivial for a motivated person to use tools freely available on the Internet to circumvent the filter.

Tech Liberty also notes that the filter provides a single point of failure for the entire New Zealand internet, and could be prone to attacks such as DNS poisoning and DDOS. The government is being very secretive about the block list and is refusing to share it with individuals, due to the fact that it could aid the public to find disallowed websites.

TechLiberty believes that this allows a lot of room for government abuse of the control, as have been the cases in places such as the United Kingdom where Wikipedia was inadvertently blocked for a week.

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The filter is opt-in by ISP's, and is governed by New Zealands "official censors" (Although, according to Ars Technica, you too can be a censor for a day!).

Hardly, why on earth is that link in this article, ridiculous.
Meanwhile an Internet Filtration system does suck.

FlintyV said,
It also worries me how these things which can have a massive impact seem to just happen over night like this filter...

If they didn't people might find out about them and try to get them stopped.

FlintyV said,
If it doesn't intercept secure sites then I'm guessing any site which is deemed shady is probably tech-savvy enough to just enable https on it.

It also worries me how these things which can have a massive impact seem to just happen over night like this filter...


it was announced a while ago that they were going to do this

thornz0 said,
Well, at least they seem to be allowing the general populace to have a hand / role in monitoring the system.

The illusion of transparency......

Thank god it is ISP opt-in. I truely do hope Australia doesn't follow in the Kiwis' footsteps. Operation Titstorm (Google it) had the right idea.

I fail to see the issue that this tech group brings up.. It doesn't censor everything, GOOD, I don't want something taken out of context on irc or msn to come back to haunt me.

It doesn't add sites by itself, it's manual.. Good, I don't want some filter program deciding what I can and can't see, as long as there is someone adding them in, there's someone at fault when the wrong sites get blocked.

A motivated person can get around anything. That's not an excuse to make it ok. Hell if I was motivate enough I could kill people, that doesn't mean we do away with those laws

You're in the western world, if they block youtube, the opposition political party, whatever, you WILL find out and get them to **** off..

At the very least, if these measures block some of the less technically savvy Pedo's out there, I think it's a good thing.

Ryoken said,
I fail to see the issue that this tech group brings up.. It doesn't censor everything, GOOD, I don't want something taken out of context on irc or msn to come back to haunt me.

It doesn't add sites by itself, it's manual.. Good, I don't want some filter program deciding what I can and can't see, as long as there is someone adding them in, there's someone at fault when the wrong sites get blocked.

A motivated person can get around anything. That's not an excuse to make it ok. Hell if I was motivate enough I could kill people, that doesn't mean we do away with those laws

You're in the western world, if they block youtube, the opposition political party, whatever, you WILL find out and get them to **** off..

At the very least, if these measures block some of the less technically savvy Pedo's out there, I think it's a good thing.


Its just once the mechanism is in place you over half way there to censorship in the name of 'National Security'. Its the next step.
Also, who is watchingwhat is being filtered. At the moment its 'open', note not to individuals.
I think anyone abusing kids should be exterminated in a horrible painful way, but child porn is always the smoke screen to govts and nefarious purposes.

vice le von said,
If someone like to watch kiddie porn, who are you to tell them to stop, (unless you're their parent). Morality issues are personal ethic issues and only should be dealt privately.

"who are you to tell them to stop"?!? Child pornography is illegal in New Zealand, no matter what the context or environment. Personal moral/ethical beliefs do not overrule the law of the land, in fact it is the exact opposite. While morals and the law do overlap quite a bit--for obvious reasons--this filter was specifically implemented to enforce the law; the fact that it enforces widely-held morals at the same time is incidental.

As for your suggestion that societal impetus will make those who who look at child pornography cease, that is unfortunately not correct; child pornography is already universally despised by society as a whole, and those with such forbidden lusts simply bury their desires deeper down and continue to practise it in secret.

This filter's current implementation is flawed, but the intent is just.

ra_27 said,
there goes free Internet in New Zealand.
you wait and see I bet the Australia Gov try it again next as there been try this before.

The Labor party is gonna face a whipping in the polls. They have no idea what the internet is + they're insulting anyone who plays video games by saying that they promote violence and are worse then bikie gangs. Also, many shareholders, particularly from Telstra, are definitely not going to be voting Labor. Basically, governments should stay away from the internet and let parents do the task of monitoring the internet if they choose to do so.

A negligible 0.0000000000001% of whom are pedophiles should not be an excuse for governments to monitor/filter the internet.

ra_27 said,
there goes free Internet in New Zealand.
you wait and see I bet the Australia Gov try it again next as there been try this before.

it suck to be in New Zealand now fell sorry for anyone there.

+1 It badly sucks indeed.

People who feels sorry for us really don't know how this country works. Unless the Greens, Act, New Zealand First or Maori Party somehow get a majority between them, then you can be sure that this will hardly encroach on our way of life. And from all my years of knowledge of politics, I can honestly say NZ is one where political change and lobbying actually can do the job done.

At the moment, what does it block? Child Porn. Beastiality. For some reason, I don't see how that is a bad thing. I for one would forsake some of my so called "human rights" or "privacy" if this could just deter anyone thinking of going into child porn. And wouldn't you? Forget whether it is effective, just answer this question with logic. And all you nay-sayers saying this could lead to ____. Save it. I live here, I know how things work. Governments at most times are incompetent, but this incompetency also plays to our hands.


The big and only problem here is that this really does nothing in the end. Like the anti-smacking law, it is a feel good (way, not so much for anti-smacking) law that does not go far enough to curb more urgent issues or the issue in focus. This is a small issue.

I just don't see why you are "sorry" for us. Perhaps the word "filter" really touch a nerve to the internet community.

Eddo89 said,

At the moment, what does it block? Child Porn.For some reason, I don't see how that is a bad thing. I for one would forsake some of my so called "human rights" or "privacy" if this could just deter anyone thinking of going into child porn.

Yeah.. Like Australia that banned all models with small breast size "because they can look like children". (magazines like Hustler were banned too).

PaulAuckNZ said,
Even if it did affect all ISPS, by the time you get there it'll time out lol. I could run faster than the crap speeds here. The speeds here, wont break the sound barrier.

LOL

Hold on a second. The NZ government is saying that this filter blocks child pornagraphy and beastility. How are they even managing this? Its not like there are websites which are easily accessable and freely offer child pornography that can be added to a blacklist. If they have such a filter, how does it even work? Does it compare images? Search through compressed archives? I think this is total bull****. The NZ government obviously wants to impose restrictions on the internet and the surefire way of gaining support is to say that it is to stop child pornography. Yeah right!

Should-have said,
Hold on a second. The NZ government is saying that this filter blocks child pornagraphy and beastility. How are they even managing this? Its not like there are websites which are easily accessable and freely offer child pornography that can be added to a blacklist. If they have such a filter, how does it even work? Does it compare images? Search through compressed archives? I think this is total bull****. The NZ government obviously wants to impose restrictions on the internet and the surefire way of gaining support is to say that it is to stop child pornography. Yeah right!

That 'filter' actually monitors and blocks blacklisted sites you try to visit. Worryingly though such a filter to work your traffic will be monitored. This is the first step. According to the post there are still some 'faults' that probably will be corrected soon or later. And then what? Spying on everyone with the excuse of bestiality and child pornography?

I am so sorry our world gets worse as time passes.

oh!!! And let me guess bestiality is illegal because of animal rights? How about our rights?

Edited by Nicholas P., Mar 16 2010, 12:56pm :

I'm not aware that animal rights has anything to do with the legallity of beastiality. I may be wrong.

So, the filter monitors the blocked sites. If these blocked sites have child pornography, then why are the police not dealing with the sites instead of the New Zealand government? How come the New Zealand government knows which sites host child pornography? Something is amiss.

The original article said,
TechLiberty believes that this allows a lot of room for government abuse of the control, as have been the cases in places such as the United Kingdom where Wikipedia was inadvertently blocked for a week.

Wikipedia was blocked here in the UK? When? How? Why?

I wasn't aware the UK had any sort of country-wide filtering.

Though child porn is disgusting, and something does need to be done when it comes to that, I am not a fan of government censorship / filtering in general. If only because it is too prone to abuse. Look at China... That started somewhere, and now look at how bad it is...

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