All major ISPs bar Orcon sign on for govt filter

UPDATE II: Vodafone says it is working closely with Internal Affairs on implementing the DIA filter and is behind the concept.

A spokesman said the company was testing the filter to ensure it actually worked correctly and it doesn't "negatively impact" other services.

Once those boxes are ticked, Vodafone expects to turn it on.

Meanwhile Orcon said it has no plans to implement the filter.

UPDATE I: Tech Liberty spokesman Thomas Beagle said Telecom’s involvement in the DIA’s kiddy porn filter is a slippery slope.

While not supportive of the practice, Mr Beagle said the Department of Internal Affairs’ Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System and Telecom’s announcement today that it was joining it, was disappointing.

“This is just a government censorship scheme for the internet,” he said.

“Once a system is in place, what can be added to it?”

He pointed out that already there were calls for sites that infringed copyright to be censored and just today Commerce Minister Simon Power welcomed the next step in developing new illegal file sharing rules that requires internet service provider co-operation.

Mr Beagle said the filter was not very effective anyway and determined seekers of illicit content would continue in their activities.

The DIA filter does not affect peer-to-peer file sharing software, for example.

Alongside Telecom, Maxnet, Watchdog, TelstraClear and Xtreme ISPs were using the system.

DIA spokesman Trevor Henry advised that other ISPs are being rbought on progressively and discussions with Vodafone/iHug, Woosh, Orcon and 2degrees are underway.

In addition, design changes are being investigated to adapt the system for performance on mobile devices.

So far about 500 websites are on the filter list and several thousands more are to be examined.

Telecom has today announced it will join the Department of Internal Affairs’ Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System. The system filters the web content of participating Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to known websites that contain child sexual abuse material.

The filter - which takes the form of software originally developed by Sweden's NetClean, then customised by the DIA - has been available to ISPs since March this year.

The announcement is a major boost for the DIA, given that Telecom Broadband holds around 57% share of the retail internet service provider market.

At a swoop, it has more than half the country covered (or at least will be once the filter in installed over "the next few weeks").

Previously, most major ISPs have not revealed whether they will support the government's filtering project.

During NBR's most recent survey, Orcon - ironically part of state-owned Kordia - was the only high profile filtering holdout.

TelstraClear was a definite yes; Vodafone a "probably".

Voluntary system not practical
Although the DIA has been praised, from some quarters, for making the filter voluntary (a more liberal approach than a heavier-handed scheme across the Tasman), by not being compulsory it does mean offenders can simply move ISP (the DIA does have other mechanisms in place for targeting offenders, including monitoring various websites and social networks).

Mission creep
Others, like Tech Liberty blogger have Thomas Beagle have worried about mission creep. "One major objection is that filters tend to be both misused and extended beyond their original scope, Mr Beagle wrote in NBR.

Another some-time tech commentator, the Digital Publishing Forum's Martin Taylor, told NBR he worried the move could be "the thin end of the wedge" with more state censorship of internet use to follow.

Telecom's decision
Telecom Retail CEO, Alan Gourdie said Telecom is committed to assisting the Department of Internal Affairs in this step towards addressing this serious issue.

“The abuse and exploitation of children is intolerable and this filter works to block access to known child exploitation websites.”

The Acting Deputy Secretary of Internal Affairs, Craig Armitage, welcomed Telecom’s decision to sign up to the filtering system.

“We are working in partnership with New Zealand ISPs. This filter provides a service provider with the means to protect their customers from inadvertently accessing these illegal websites and to fight and raise awareness of the worldwide problem of child sexual abuse and exploitation. The filter is an important tool to reduce the demand for child abuse material currently available on the Internet. Telecom and other ISPs signing up are to be commended for taking this step.”

Mr Gourdie says while participating ISPs are signing up to combat child abuse, people should remain vigilant when taking steps to keep their families safe online.

“This filter does not negate the need for continued supervision and monitoring of Internet use to keep kids safe online. We encourage Kiwis to keep their Internet security up to date - Telecom’s McAfee Security Suite includes parental controls and is free for all our customers with compatible operating systems.

“Parents can also find more information about online safety at and”

The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System was made available to ISPs in March 2010 following a two-year trial, and is overseen by an Independent Reference Group, of which Telecom is a member.

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