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In less than two months the government’s anti-child pornography filtering software will be available for internet service providers that wish to offer it to their customers.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has admitted that the software will not necessarily stop child pornography from being distributed across the internet as the majority is sourced from peer-to-peer files and not from websites.
In a statement the DIA said; “The DIA appreciates that website filtering is only partially effective in combating the trade in child sexual abuse images. In particular website filtering does not prevent the creation of illegal material nor, in the case of images of child sexual abuse, the exploitation of children.”
Tech Liberty spokesman Thomas Beagle said the software would not catch people downloading illegal content and would also not remove illegal content from its location on the internet.
Another issue that has been raised here in New Zealand, Australia and the US, is that parents may be given a false sense of security and think because an ISP has blocked such sites their children will be safe from everything on the internet. This is not the case.
Due to the controversy surrounding the government’s will to censor the internet, an independent review board was commissioned in December.
Before Christmas NBR reported that the filtering system would be run by the board to ensure only child abuse sites were blocked on the internet and nothing else.
DIA deputy secretary of regulation and compliance Keith Manch told NBR in December that the software would not be used for law enforcement and that only statistics of blocked sites would be recorded.
The board of the Independent Reference Group was recently announced; the board includes; Nic McCully, deputy chief censor, Nic Johnstone, Office of the Children’s Commission, Steven O’Brien, Censorship Compliance Unit manager (Department of Internal Affairs), Mark Harris, Andrew Bowater, Telecom’s government relations manager and Duncan Campbell, deputy editor of Netguide.
Mr Beagle said the makeup of the group was less “than ideal.” Mr O’Brien is included in the group despite the fact that he is the manager in charge of implementing the internet filter. Mr Beagle said his inclusion undermined the independence of the group.
The government bought the “White Box” filtering software from Swedish company Netclean that was specifically created to target sites with child sexual abuse images. The software cost $150,000 and the DIA has further customised it.