Joyce: Internet filtering off the agenda in NZ
Those nervously watching the chaos across the Tasman can breathe a sigh of relief.
"We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here," says Communications and IT minister Steven Joyce.
"The technology for internet filtering causes delays for all internet users. And unfortunately those who are determined to get around any filter will find a way to do so. Our view is that educating kids and parents about being safe on the internet is the best way of tackling the problem."
In October, Australian Communications and IT minister Stephen Conroy announced a $A42 million plan to make internet content filtering compulsory for all Australian internet service providers.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is currently conducting trials for ISP-level content filtering.
Part of the trial involves building a list of black-listed websites under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act, which will be automatically blocked by the government-mandated filtering.
Some critics say the internet filtering plan provides the government with frightening powers of censorship. Others say it will prove unpractical and expensive.
The latest controversy revolved around a list of banned websites acquired by The Sydney Morning Herald, which along with abhorrent child pornography websites includes plain vanilla adult content, whistle-blower site wikileaks, a travel agency site and a site maintained by a Brisbane dentist.
Filtering foes were quick to pounce on the list, saying it was a graphic illustration of how any net filtering will inevitably - advertently or inadvertently - lead to heavy-handed censorship of legal content and - if the likes of wikileaks are blocked - impede free speech.
In an online statement however, the ACMA says the alleged blacklist differs in length and format form its actual list - which the regulator says must remain secret to be effectively implemented. Critics says such secrecy about what site are banned further underline’s the sinister role of filtering in a democratic society.
Senator Conroy remains committed to the filtering trial, despite the initiative’s increasingly obvious ethical and practical drawbacks.
Thankfully, it’s not a debate we’ll have to go through here.