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Society Applauds ISP blocks on Child Porn

Society Applauds ISP blocks on Child Porn

For a number of years the Society has been calling on all New Zealand ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block ALL overseas based websites that host child pornography AND hard core pornography (NZ-based websites containing “objectionable content” including child porn are illegal under NZ censorship laws). Gay rights activists, paedophiles, homosexuals wanting to ‘hook up’ with underage school boys or view ‘bare-backing’ films, those addicted to hardcore pornography and all those who make a living from marketing such moral filth, have rubbished the Society’s call for the implementation of such controls to prevent injury to the “public good”. As the Society has repeatedly pointed out, blocking filters able to be used by ISPs have been available for a number of years and have operated effectively in other countries to block objectionable child porn and other “objectionable” content. As recently as 1 June 2007 the Society raised its serious concerns over Internet porn with the Minister of Communications, Hon. David Cunnliffe and the inister of Justice, Hon. Mark Burton. Mr Cunnliffe passed the letter on to Mr Burton to deal with and Mr Burton took two months to reply. He effectively rubbished the Society’s suggestion for a blacklisting of porn sites and ISP controls (see quote from letter below ref. 1), despite the fact that the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) had been working towards trailing such a scheme for many months. One wonders whether the Ministers were even aware of the excellent work carried out by the Censorship Compliance Unit of the DIA headed by Mr Steve O’Brien.

Finally it was announced yesterday that the DIA would be making available to ISPs a list of websites hosting child porn. Censorship manager Steve O'Brien says the DIA drawn up a list of more than 7000 websites that host illegal material. However, the Society is concerned that only two ISPs agreed to block access to the sites in a trial which has been running for several months but which is still at "the very early stages". Mr O'Brien says the idea is based on very successful approaches to combating child porn in Norway and Sweden. (Dominion Post 12/11/07).

On the 6 September 2007 the Minister of Justice, the Hon Mark Burton, M.P. for Taupo, wrote to the Society and effectively rubbished its proposal that a blacklist of objectionable websites be established and mandatory laws be introduced requiring ISPs to block these websites. The Minister replied to the Society’s letter dated 1 June 2007, stating: “Like you, I am concerned about children and young people accessing objectionable material on the internet.” However, consider his comments on the Society’s proposal, which the DIA had been working on at the time he received the Society’s letter:

“I note your query about a "blacklist" of objectionable websites and the responsibilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to these websites. Unfortunately, establishing a "blacklist" and requiring ISPs to block or restrict access is unlikely to provide a solution. Those who place such images on the internet can also change the web address very quickly and easily. A database of discovered objectionable websites would very quickly become obsolete.”

Chris O’Brien says DIA has now produced such a data base, which can be regularly updated. He says DIA will not block "borderline" sites, but only "known child-abuse sites". He says the scheme does not require legislation, relying instead on the goodwill of ISPs. "Once we're satisfied with the technical mechanisms, we'll invite a number of ISPs to increase the size of the trial and take it from there."

The "beauty of the approach" is that ISPs themselves do not face additional costs filtering websites for illegal content, he says. Any delays to legal web surfing caused by checking web requests against the list of banned sites would not be noticeable to computer users.

Mr O'Brien says the list of banned sites is updated daily, since most "dedicated" child porn sites tend to change address every couple of days. International cooperation with overseas censors is likely, to keep the list up to date.

This does not address the issue of file sharing over peer-to-peer networks and is not a "be-all and end-all", but if enough countries adopted the tactic it could become harder to make a business out of selling child porn, he says.

The Society maintains that all ISPs have a social. legal and ethical responsibility to block all websites containing objectionable content and it encourages the Censorship Compliance to continue its efforts to work with overseas authorities to identify such sites.

References:

Society Raises Concerns Over Dissemination of Objectionable Internet Content
August 13, 2007
http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/society-raises-concerns-over-dissemination-of-objectionable-internet-content/#more-65

Copy of Correspondence between Minister of Justice Hon. Mark Burton and Society
http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/minister-of-justice-hon-mark-burton-on-objectionable-internet-content/#more-64

ISPs agree to block child porn websites
By Tom Pullar-Strecker. The Dominion Post, Monday, 12 November 2007.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/4269675a28.html
DIA to list child porn sites for voluntary blocking
November 12th, 2007
http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/

ENDS

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