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back to article New Zealand bolts net filtering regime into place

If you thought that net filtering and grandiose firewalls were the exclusive preserve of West Island (or "Australia", as the locals like to call it), think again. New Zealand is showing that it, too, is ready to play its part in the great Antipodean censorship stakes. Last week, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) …

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Wedge.

Whilst the 'incentives' and 'intentions' of this are laudable, the potential for future misuse and 'mission creep' by the NZ government is massive. This in no way addresses the root problem, but is akin to adopting a set of national blinkers, whilst putting collective governmental fingers in the ears and singing loudly "LA LA LA LA LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I CANT SEE YOU, YOU DON'T EXIST"

Sorry Kiwis, this is not going to make the bad thing go away.

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They can't be that bad at censorship in NZ

Peter Jackson after all gave us 'Bad Taste' and 'Meet the Feebles'.

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Anonymous Coward

Well done

You've blocked some obvious websites. That'll stop the pornographers! Does anyone really think this will make any difference to anything? It's classic modern politics - lets do something we can shout about; who gives a shit if it'll make any real difference.

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Heart

It's all very well

having clear, rational laws and a well-funded, well-run system to enforce them, alongside warm weather, a relaxed, sociable way of life and bountiful natural resources, but they haven't got, ... erm, ... oh bollocks.

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The Horror!

Without stating the obvious arguments about how this is bad since it can/will be mis-used, I was struck by the word 'horror' in the list of "sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence" that is punishable.

Does this mean that any future budding Peter Jacksons can't learn their trade by making movies like 'Brain Dead', 'Bad Taste' or even 'Meet the Feebles' (which really was a horror to watch).

Even the excellent Black Sheep is a more recent example that depicts most of the topics in the list above from the land of the Killer Koala so I guess they should ban that too.

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Black Helicopters

Road To Serdom

We, your feudal masters, cannot permit you, our slaves, in having any sort of freedom. What little freedom you have now is a privilege, and you should be happy with what you've got. Besides, who ever heard of people being born free? Such a notion is ridiculous!

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Good for NZ

NZ law is very different to here. In that common sense is allowed. We have to define every last possible avanue in micro detail in our legislation, as if we dont the lawyers will find a way out.

In NZ there is no compensation culture, and it has led to a much more practical legal system.

Common sense has a place there. To all kiwis: I would defend your legal system as long as you can. We followed the merkins, and its shit, expensive, ludicrous, orwellian and the only people who are better off are the lawyers and the political elite.

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Happy

NZ kiddie Pr0n?

That would be photos of young lambs then?

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Slippery Slope Blues

Sliding into jackboot fascism one "reasonable" control at a time. Big Brother will protect you.

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Linux

@ Duncan Hothersall

....me!

But my visa is in the post. Huzzzah!

At least with a fixed three year term of office, and Proportional Representation you've a chance of getting rid of crap government and repealng bad legislation, not like this sceptic isle.

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Unhappy

BAN child porn, don't "filter" it!

"...the voluntary system will block access to around 7000 websites carrying images of child sexual abuse..."

So if they know what the sites are, and are able to filter them out of your browsing - why the hell don't they shut the sites down carrying the content?

Surely stopping it happening in the first place is better than giving people rose tinted glasses and telling them to stay indoors?

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@ AC

You are living in la la land if you think you can get rid of a bad government and replace with a good one. They are all the same, you cannot trust any politician, once a bad law is in place, it is impossible to get rid of it.

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Black Helicopters

Only a matter of time.

Much as I hate censorship, the more radical hippy founders and supporters of the Internet have been getting away with snubbing their collective noses at the idea of National Sovereignty for quite a while now.

If an article of content would be illegal to import or own, by local laws, if it was rendered in some kind of physical media (books, photos, film etc.) then there's no reason to expect a government to allow it to be imported via the Internet...

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@Winkypop

Nope. the Australians are the sheep shaggers. They started those rumours to try to make the market for the vastly superior NZ sheep collapse. Also they were jealous that NZ sheep looked better than the fuzzy maggots grown on the western side of the Tasman Sea.

What do you call a bloke driving a flock of sheep away from an Australian military installation? A broke pimp. Broke because the Aussies are to busy crying into their vegemite sandwiches after going 2-0 down in the One Day International series against New Zealand in front of their own supporters.

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Linux

I

always wonder what happens to things which already existed, but weren't illegal before the law came into effect. So for instance child porn was illegal before this leglislation, and this presumably is just to help enforce a law which already exists? or (rightly) catch more people?

But adding a ton of other things into this law anything which is 'objectionable...likely to be injurious to the public good.' can we expect endless debates about what is/isn't in 'the public good' or indeed objectionable.

Could it be argued that any film,tv show which questions our form of democracy is injurious to the public good....

I would argue that jeremy kyle is injurious to the public good, since it stops students working and turns stay at homers into couch potatos (with 3 episodes a day, 5 if you watch the itv2+1)

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so the kiddy fiddlers

will simply use proxies then? Or tor?

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Boffin

Broadband

Half the country can't even access the alledged dodgy material because the rollout of broadband internet has been so far.

Even my dad - who is an ex NZ telecom engineer - can't get more than a quarter megabit connection, because the comms companies are deliberately stalling rollout of fibre to the street cabinet.

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Anonymous Coward

Daily Mail readers, look away NOW!

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Sorry Kiwis, this is not going to make the bad thing go away.

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It's not supposed to - with the differing ages of legal consent around the world it could be a matter of what passes for porn in say, Spain, might be kiddy-fiddling in NZ... granted there's not a country in the world where where the age of consent is pre-pubescent.

There are however countries where the age of consent is 21, or where sex is illegal outside marriage or with someone of the same gender - there goes all your girl-on-girl action vids - you can't make the "bad thing" go away if there isn't universal consent on what the "bad thing" actually is.

The global baseline for the age of consent, btw, is about 12 or 13... the thought makes my skin crawl slightly, but then I'm not 13 any more.

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Alert

Reality TV

Surely this would fall under horror and not in the "public good" so they are all going to banned right? How ironic that Big Brother could kill Big Brother ;)

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Anonymous Coward

@ Ian Rogers

"Much as I hate censorship"

You clearly don't hate censorship at all as the rest of your post is advocating it. With some notable exceptions which are illegal in virtually every country in the world already, why should anyone have the right to tell me what I can or cannot look at?

Just because you or A.N. Other politician doesn't like it, doesn't mean you can impose your prudery on the rest of us. the internet was created for the free and unfettered exchange of information and no matter what blocks politicians try to impose, the techie inteligensia will alwys find a way around your petty restrictions.

No crawl back under your rocks and carry on getting your voueuristic jollies watching CCTV

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@ grom

Taking the comment seriously:

Brain Dead, Bad Taste & Feebles are all rated 'R16' in NZ. Black Sheep was a little more restrained and has garnered only a 'R13' rating.

The reference to horror goes back to the 1950s incarnation of the legislation - the 'Indecent Publications Act' - which was amended as a result of the horror comics scare of the time. From the 1950s to the 1990s a comic book was by definition 'likely to be attractive to children' so an adult comic book was not only a contradiction in terms, but also illegal ,regardless of whether children were the intended aufience or not.

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How long before its used for political goals.

From the article: "while warning that there could be concerns if the department later used the filter to block a wider variety of websites"

... And that is the key. While the people in power bring in these controls for good reasons, the people in power, being people who seek power and influence over others, can't then keep their hands away from using the system to give themselves ever more power over time. So they end up using the system to monitor, censor and control anyone who would want to tell them online they are wrong. (People who seek power over others are always the same thoughout history. They always can't stop grabbing ever more power until they end up making life bad for everyone else).

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Mark

Urm, in the 3rd paragraph says "voluntary system."

So, if you want to watch kiddie porn, just say no to the system??

Wierd.

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I love the smell...

of cowardice on a Friday!

"Sorry Kiwis, this is not going to make the bad thing go away."

I stand by that. And likewise appreciate the nigh on impossible task of eliminating Child Abuse on a global scale, for the reasons you state (one man's meat is another man's poison, as it were.)

However.

To take a stance which, IMHO, cries out "We're all right Jack. Our citizens can't get to this muck!" is simply denial of the worst kind:

"LA LA LA LA LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I CANT SEE YOU, YOU DON'T EXIST"

Unfortunately, the Kiwis will be railroaded into this by the "Won't anyone think of the children" brigade.

This will do NOTHING to prevent even a single incidence of Child Abuse. It may even make things worse domestically. IE, no- easy on-line 'fix' available, some will be compelled to satisfy their perverse craving in reality. NOW think of the children!

There is no 'easy' answer.

But this, IMO, is not part of the answer either. Neither is implementing this on a global scale.

This is the thin end of a potentially massive censorship wedge.

"Everything you think, do and say,

Is in the pill you took today"

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Linux

Out of curiosity

Why has the Australian flag got an extra star in (presumably) the Southern Cross?

Penguin - cause they look up at the southern night sky and can't count anyway

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Boffin

Definitions

Ok, so they've defined 'objectionable' fairly specifically, but have they also defined 'public good' on which the definition of 'objectionable' is based...? No? Thought not - there's the built-in political leeway then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out of curiosity

That'd be the fifth star in Crux - Epsilon Crux (no, I didn't know the name before I googled it!). You could say the Kiwis are missing a star...

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@Anonymous Coward

"under your rock" yourself sunshine - you seem to have missed the point.

The Internet was created as a reliable network (btw. I've been "doing" the Internet thing for 20 years now), the "unfettered access to info" bit came much later when nerds (like me) realised we knew a heck of a lot more than The Powers That Be.

But that is coming to an end now as governments get themselves quite highly techy committees. So the holes in the national border that the Internet creates are slowly being blocked up again - and this is inevitable (if slow).

The *real* issue - once you get your head out of the armchair-activism sand - is what I said about "content ... illegal to import or own, by local laws". The technology is catching up with the law (or the law is catching up with the technology depending on how you look at it). If you don't like what's listed as illegal then start writing to your MP. Standing on the rooftop, can of beer in hand, shouting "they'll never take my internets" really won't cut it.

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Ye gods...!

Do *NOT* let the UK Government get wind of this otherwise they'll see it as an example to copy to bring in even more ludicrously vague and subjective legislation!

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Go

@Winkypop

lamb = young sheep

kid = young goat (or young goat-like animal if your sprog be needing a bath)

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Vendors swarm

Vendors, moving like a cloud of bluebottles from one public policy dunghill to another, laying little eggs of political cowardice that later bloom into big, fat, tasty and lucrative maggots of legislation.

Law enforcement seems particularly susceptible to this. Here in the U.S. prisons are industrialized, publicly traded, and of course the shareholders demand ever-improving quarterlies. Every wonder =why= we're (poor saps in U.S.) now incarcerating over 1 in 100 of our residents, with the largest absolute number of prisoners on the entire planet? Shareholder Value, that's why!

Go, New Zealand! Economic stimulus demands that you enable and then forever expand your vendors' business models!

Yecchh.

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So far, the principles work OK

The point about the "public good" provision is that the banned item has to cause, or be likely to cause, actual harm. It gets away from criteria like "offensive," which is a question of taste. What could cause harm is a potential subject for a court to determine.

This basic pattern of law has been in effect for quite a while, and hasn't interfered with Peter Jackson's career at all. There is remarkably little concern expressed by artists or civil liberties groups over the NZ censorship laws. Of course they could be abused, like all laws, but at the moment the NZ govts are being pretty pragmatic and unideological.

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@ Nordrick Framelhammer

That's about as lame as a kiwi beer, mate.

2/10, please try harder.

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Paris Hilton

P2P

What neither the Greater nor Lesser Antipodes' authorities have managed to explain to the great unwashed is how they are going to stop P2P traffic between kiddie botherers.

As this is purported to account for more than half the nasty photo traffic (and, no, I don't have a reference, it's 10:30pm and way passed my bedtime), what are they going to do when they find that the Great Internet Wall of the South Pacific(tm) doesn't stop the rot? Get the ISPs to start monitoring your traffic?

Tears at bedtime, we're all rooned, etc

Paris because she doesn't have a clue about cricket, be it Kiwi or Oz.

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Blocking access

First off, with regards to Horness' comment and those telling us that blocking content won't make it go away:

"So if they know what the sites are, and are able to filter them out of your browsing - why the hell don't they shut the sites down carrying the content?"

That would be because the internet lets you access websites in other countries - so if the 7,000 blocked sites are based in countries other than New Zealand then the NZ Govt cannot shut those sites down. While I don't have a lot of time for any politicians, at least most of ours (yes, I'm a Kiwi) don't seem to think that the celestial globes rotate at their command. Some stupid laws certainly get signed into the system, and certainly some do have some very loose descriptions, but I can't think of any examples where laws have been substantially twisted. Kiwis do tend to be a bit vocal when we think Politicians are trying a fast one, so maybe that is why.

For those saying that people will get around the filters that is very true, but that does require at least a little knowledge. My impression is that this law is aimed at stopping this sort of content popping up for casual surfing. Who knows, maybe this will mean that some people who would have stumbled over this type of content and become more interested in it now won't?

Just my $0.02, thanks for reading it.

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Boffin

@out of curiosity

The Aussie flag has the large white seven pointed star-of-federation under the Union Jack. Obviously the Kiwis don't have, nor would they want, this on their flag. This represents the original seven states and territories that constituted Australia (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, NT & TAS. ) Why the ACT is missing no one knows or cares, but that's probably because it didn't exist at the time of federation.

Also the Stars of the southern cross (both flags have all five) on the Aussie flag are white, while the Kiwis have red stars with a white trim.

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@TheOtherMe

Just correcting a wee mistake, the six original stars on teh Aussie flag were for the original SIX colonies, NSWales, QLD, S A, Tassie, Victoria and W A. The seventh was added for the territory of Papua, now PNG. They never removed the star... I guess that the Northern Territory can borrow it.

On the topic of net filtering... I think it is right and proper for the Internet to be subject to exactly the same levels of censorship as publications, films and so on. To all those who say 'how dare the govt. censor what I read' etc., would you condone the publication of child porn magazines and allow them for sale at the corner shop? I don't, and don't think that it should be published via the web. Of course this means that the danger exists that censorship can go too far, but that is when the people need to speak out.

On another point, the article points out that the NZ law is more coherent and clear than the UK law. I believe that in some countries, the law is made _deliberately_ unclear and obfuscated to enable proceedings to be brought where this suits the powers that be.

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Anonymous Coward

Age of consent.

@AC; the age of consent is not always the age of legal pr0n, IYSWIM. It's not in the UK, for a start. And there again some legislations manage to take into consideration the age difference between the partners.

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