Doing filtering right

datePosted on 09:20, July 17th, 2009 by Anita

Once upon a time quite a long time ago I was involved in the implementation of a porn filter at a public institution. At the time part of my role included “inappropriate use” investigations. I’ve spent far too many hours sifting through web and other access logs, writing up material for handover to the authorities, seizing equipment and seeing the flow on effect of a search warrant executed on someone’s home. I’ve sat across a table from someone I knew and made eye contact while I explained how I had discovered evidence he had repeatedly accessed a bestiality porn site. I wish I wasn’t so aware of just how bad porn has to be before it becomes illegal.

I strongly support voluntary at the border filtering for child porn, if I ran an ISP I would implement it and I would be grateful for any help the government provided. But… the government’s support and actions must be scoped, controlled and open to public scrutiny.

DIA should be doing this, but they should also be doing it right:

  1. The process should be public
  2. The scope should be public
  3. Both should be open to public scrutiny and comment (including a without prejudice process for challenging the filtering of a site).

Releasing the list of sites would be counterproductive but we do have a right to know what they’re up to. Is their mandate only child porn (2(a) of the definition of objectionable) or the other criteria as well? Who will make the decision? What is the review process? Will any monitoring be undertaken? Could that trigger an investigation? Will they guarantee it is only objectionable material? Is there scope for political interference? What does “voluntary” mean? Will there be negative consequences for ISPs that don’t opt in?

I totally support DIA’s stated intention, but the way they are approaching it is just plain wrong.

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3 Responses to “Doing filtering right”

  1. […] Kiwipolitico: Doing filtering right [6] […]

  2. Keith Manch on July 17th, 2009 at 16:23

    The filtering system will be operated by the people in the Department of Internal Affairs who work on preventing the making, distribution and possession of images of child sex abuse.

    It will help to prevent the problem but is not imagined to be a complete response. Many different activities are necessary to deal with this horrific offending.

    The system has been thoroughly tested and spoken about openly over the last two years. There will be an independent reference group looking at what the Department does.

    The Department will not be identifying people attempting to access the blocked sites. It’s a prevention activity. Action does take place internationally to close the offending websites and prosecute the owners of the sites where that’s possible.

    The Department will also continue to pursue other child sex abuse related offending on the internet (for example through the use of file sharing mechanisms). Anyone who wants to see what we do in this area can look at the media releases at:

    http:/www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Censorship-Compliance-Press-Releases?OpenDocument

    Keith Manch, Department of Internal Affairs

  3. Thomas Beagle on July 19th, 2009 at 16:22

    Anita’s post has covered many of the political arguments against the DIA’s proposed internet filter.

    I’ve covered some of the technical arguments against it here: http://thomasbeagle.net/2009/07/19/internet-filtering-doesnt-work/

    You’ll also find links to my General and Technical FAQs about the internet filtering at the same site.

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