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Topic # 37700 17-Jul-2009 18:02 Send private message

Seen on the NZ Herald website today (and promptly posted to Slashdot as well):

Internet service providers will soon begin blocking access to hundreds of websites that are on a secret blacklist compiled by the Department of Internal Affairs, but critics say the system lacks transparency.


The department this week announced its new Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which it said would help fight child sex abuse. The $150,000 software will be provided free of charge to ISPs in a couple of months and will reroute all site requests to Government-owned servers. The software, called Whitebox, compares users' site requests with a list of banned links. If a match is found, the request is denied. It will not cover email, file sharing or borderline material.


Internal Affairs Secretary Keith Manch said the scheme was voluntary for internet service providers, but Yahoo!, Xtra, TelstraClear and Vodafone - representing over 93 per cent of the market - had all expressed interest in adopting it.


Internal Affairs first trialled the scheme in 2007 and 2008 with some ISPs, but IT Minister Steven Joyce said in March that the Government had no plans to introduce internet filtering technology. The minister's office yesterday declined to comment.


Critics say the system has been introduced by stealth and lacks accountability. The department will not disclose the 7000 objectionable websites for fear "inevitably some people would visit them in the interim", effectively facilitating further offending and making the department party to the further exploitation of children.


Internal Affairs censorship compliance head Steve O'Brien said the blacklist would be personally reviewed by staff each month and would be restricted to paedophilic content only.


But systems administrator and IT blogger Thomas Beagle said the system had been deliberately kept "under the radar" to avoid public debate.


Filtering systems in Australia, Denmark and Britain have been accused of serious flaws, with unexplained blacklistings of straight and gay pornography, Wikipedia articles and small businesses.


Mr Beagle said he favoured providing optional clean feeds for users, but believed Governments would be tempted to expand the blacklist in reaction to events.


If the blacklist was managed in an open manner people would be able to challenge what was being done to "protect" them, he said.


Internet NZ said it could be abused and anything that attempted to redirect internet traffic had the potential to "break" the internet.





I finally have fibre!  Had to leave the country to get it though.


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  Reply # 236521 17-Jul-2009 18:59 Send private message

Check my blog about Internet filtering in New Zealand and you will see I posted about it a week before the mainstream newspapers ;)




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  Reply # 236527 17-Jul-2009 19:06 Send private message

i would love to know where they found 7,000 sites , in my job as a research assistant at a public library and private use for 10 years i have never come across child porn web sites and i have found some pretty objectionable sites and im not easily offended so if these are illegal sites surely they would be reported and then closed so they just look like some government employees opinion as what is objectionable which is just censorship and not what the internet is about

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  Reply # 236536 17-Jul-2009 19:28 Send private message

vexxxboy: which is just censorship and not what the internet is about


Exactly.

If they're so worried about it, they should (Govt) go after those running the bloody sites. If they have found 7000 of them, why don't they do something worth while like have them shut down, if its illegal?


I still think their efforts are a waste of time, money, and resouces.

Those who want to get around it, will get around it.

Plain and simple. I don't see what their going to achieve, other than slowing my internet down because my traffic has to be redirected to the Govt run servers BEFORE actually letting me see something.



EDIT: MMEEEH!  so tired, my Engrish has slipped! ;)






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  Reply # 236542 17-Jul-2009 19:53 Send private message

Aaroona:Plain and simple. I don't see what their going to achieve, other than slowing my internet down because my traffic has to be redirected to the Govt run servers BEFORE actually letting me see something.


They've already addressed that issue, according to Thomas Beagle - apparently the filter works using BGP - Wikipedia can explain that far better than I.  What this should mean is that the traffic will not go to the filter servers, unless the request is to content on a blocked IP.

Pretty pointless really, since getting new IP allocations with most web hosts is easy, and it doesn't support IPv6 (where your typical allocation from your webhost is in the quadrillions of unique IPs anyway - my web host has given me an allocation of 18 quintillion IPv6 addresses.  Try THAT on for size?)




I finally have fibre!  Had to leave the country to get it though.


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  Reply # 236544 17-Jul-2009 19:59 Send private message

Kyanar:
Aaroona:Plain and simple. I don't see what their going to achieve, other than slowing my internet down because my traffic has to be redirected to the Govt run servers BEFORE actually letting me see something.


They've already addressed that issue, according to Thomas Beagle - apparently the filter works using BGP - Wikipedia can explain that far better than I.  What this should mean is that the traffic will not go to the filter servers, unless the request is to content on a blocked IP.

Pretty pointless really, since getting new IP allocations with most web hosts is easy, and it doesn't support IPv6 (where your typical allocation from your webhost is in the quadrillions of unique IPs anyway - my web host has given me an allocation of 18 quintillion IPv6 addresses.  Try THAT on for size?)


LOL eenough addresses?

I reckon though, this will turn around and be used for shall we say, "evil".

If they were gonna' do something about it, they should just cut the water off at the supply, so to speak.

Like they said, they're not going to track file sharing etc. So if the site is indeed illegal, and breaks the law, why the heck don't they just get it shut down.


Imposing these filters makes my skin crawl, it really does.

All I keep thinking (as i've said before on another post), is North Korea.

They have imposed restrictions on their internet. Blocking sites such as CNN. (and basically everything else under the sun)

What next?




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  Reply # 236554 17-Jul-2009 21:03 Send private message

WOW!! I've been following the Aussie web filtering situation for some time as I believe that this kind of thing generally gets abused / expanded beyond it's original intent pretty fast. What the NZ govt are planning to do is IDENTICAL to the Aussies!!! Like, I read that article and I swear someone has copied and pasted it from an Australian article and swapped the country names!! I mean it's EXACTLY the same approach, reason and argument as to why the block list 'has' to be kept secret. I smell a big, dirty, hairy rat!!

I also don't buy the 'it's to fight child porn' argument. Blacklists are highly ineffective for a start, and I think the real reason that 'child porn' is the excuse being used is that it's such a difficult thing to argue against.

If you object to this filter, basically they can say, "Well, what's your objection to us blocking kiddie porn?". It's such an emotive subject that people who don't understand the implications of the technology will jump on the bandwagon without realising what they're really signing on for.

The Australian web censorship list is only in it's infancy, but it has already been revealed that several sites which are critical of the current government are on the list. MARK MY WORDS, this will happen here!!

Watch the skies people, and be afraid if they put 'wikileaks.org' on the list because they reveal the blocklist (and I hope they do).

I'm not even saying that the current government IS going to abuse the mechanism, but once it's in place, it's pretty damn hard to dismantle, and a system like this is SO easy to abuse, ESPECIALLY without oversight or public scrutiny!!

I'm really keen to 'do' something about this, anyone know of any organisations (other than InternetNZ etc) who are opposing this or any petitions on the go?

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  Reply # 236580 17-Jul-2009 23:09 Send private message

All I can say is $150K would have gone along way towards paying some task force to track down those that deal in child porn.

Its the same old story really isn't it? First they filter to stop child porn, then its P2P traffic and from there.... Well Benjamin said it best "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

We have an office in china and I can tell you net neutrality is a very important thing, I hate having to proxy DNS & Web traffic through SSL & VPN tunnels. Sometimes our Chinese office have things filtered for no apparent reason. I've even had forged TCP RST packets dropping my SSH sessions from NZ to our Chinese server (on those days I just SSH through the VPN tunnel).

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  Reply # 236590 18-Jul-2009 00:43 Send private message

exetel.com.au did a trial using the content filtering offered by NZ ISP watchdog, the same ISP that does all the filtering for schools in NZ and they had very positive results (their users complained bitterly but weren't affected in anyway negatively)


this guys blog posts are very very interesting


http://steve.blogs.exetel.com.au/index.php?serendipity[action]=search&serendipity[searchTerm]=watchdog

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  Reply # 236615 18-Jul-2009 09:14 Send private message

TelstraClear started trialing the service in 2008, I can't remember if they ever stopped but there's been no backlash from it.

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  Reply # 236631 18-Jul-2009 10:13 Send private message

I have no doubt that a system like this can work well, my objection is the clandestine way that it is being setup and administered. There should be more (not necessarily full) openness about it to prevent abuse / misuse.

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  Reply # 236645 18-Jul-2009 12:11 Send private message

SamF: I have no doubt that a system like this can work well, my objection is the clandestine way that it is being setup and administered. There should be more (not necessarily full) openness about it to prevent abuse / misuse.



What exactly do you mean by 'work well'? Seems to me determined people will have absolutely no problem working around a simple filter.

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  Reply # 236668 18-Jul-2009 14:20 Send private message

I mean, as intended (I don't think it's intended to be 100% protection). Sure there are ways around it, there always will be.

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  Reply # 236719 18-Jul-2009 18:10 Send private message

If they want to filter it, they need to do several things:

1) They need to publish the list.
2) They need to go in front of a judge to put something on the list.
3) They need to remove the NGO's from the process.
4) There needs to be very strictly defined legislation around what should and should not be on the list.
5) It should be able to appeal a listing.
6) They need to make an attempt to notify the host of the content.

This is a limitation of someone's free speech rights. There should be the exact same barriers to blocking it that there are for the government stopping a national newspaper or TV network.




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  Reply # 236727 18-Jul-2009 18:56 Send private message

It's a classic catch 22...

They don't want to publish the list because it will increase awareness of sites which are illegal under NZ law (namely child pron). That kinda makes sense.

However if the list is secret how can we be sure it won't be abused to block content that is political etc.


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  Reply # 236728 18-Jul-2009 18:59 Send private message

Ragnor: It's a classic catch 22...



They don't want to publish the list because it will increase awareness of sites which are illegal under NZ law (namely child pron).





If its on the list, its blocked anyway. So...




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