Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Because You Should Know

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  • Emma Hart,

    I intend to keep adding information to this thread as it comes to light. This, for instance, is kind of interesting. Stephen Joyce, from back in March:

    "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."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    The Great Strikethrough Debacle on LJ made me *very wary* of allegedly well-intentioned but unannounced attempts to censor child pornography. This is...less than optimal.

    Anyway, couldn't they just publish a list of the *names* of sites (not addresses?) Then they wouldn't be encouraging access to objectionable material (well, not without a few seconds of Googling) and people would have a shot at noticing when sites are unreasonably censored. It's not like it's a big ask.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The child pornography the DIA is blocking also includes material such as drawings or fiction, where no children were harmed in the production.

    OK, so I can walk into any bookstore or public library and walk out with a copy of Lolita, but if I try to access a website containing the book's test or discussion of the same then, Houston, we have a problem?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    if I try to access a website containing the book's text or discussion of the same then, Houston, we have a problem?

    Who the hell knows? It may be that the DIA is applying a very reasonable SLAPS test to the material to avoid doing so, but really the only way to find out would be to do what people have been doing with the ACMA list in Australia: find a site you know contains the type of material you're concerned about having banned, lay a complaint and try to get it banned.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Damn, all this time I've been thinking Thomas the Tank Engine and things like Bob the Builder were child pornograpy.
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Maybe I misunderstood, but:

    It is, I have to say, a very good scheme as these schemes go. They are only blocking child pornography sites, and blocking to the level of individual pages and images rather than whole sites.

    only blocking child pornography? So no other objectionable material is being blocked?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    So no other objectionable material is being blocked?

    From Thomas:

    The trial scheme was used to filter child pornography including video, photos, stories and drawings. Other illegal material (as defined by New Zealand law) is not filtered.

    Emphasis mine.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    Would it matter if they blocked all the objectionable material that they could? I'm not really seeing a downside here.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    i think it would be better if they did block other things, I'm surprised they're not.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Would it matter if they blocked all the objectionable material that they could? I'm not really seeing a downside here.

    And I understand that a lot of people won't. But 'objectionable' is a subjective term. As Craig suggests, what about 'objectionable' material that's used for academic or theraputic purposes? And look at that list:

    physical conduct in which sexual satisfaction is derived from inflicting or suffering cruelty or pain

    That's all BDSM material. All of it. BDSM practice is LEGAL.

    promotes or encourages criminal acts or acts of terrorism

    No problem with any interpretation of that?

    A friend of mine raised an interesting thought exercise last night, entirely hypothetical. Imagine United Future or a similar party as a minor but significant coalition partner some time in the future, and instead of the Families Commission, they ask for the Censor's Office.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    This is not the thin end of the wedge, it is not being done surreptitiously and, for the sake of sweet baby Jebus, it is for your own good .

    How very dare you object?

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    please note that in this context 'quick' may mean 'delayed as long as judiciously possible'

    Request filed: April 13.
    Response sent: April 24.
    Total time: 9 working days.
    OIA time limit: 20 working days.

    That's good service. I'd also note that the response was complete and generally helpful, and that the decision to withhold the blocklist is at least credible, unlike some of the bullshit I see from Ministers.

    It will be interesting to see what the Ombudsman says about that. But if they don't release it, ther's always wikileaks.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle,

    Anyone billed separately for local and international traffic?

    Someone suggested to me that it might be possible to forward all of your traffic through the DIA filter server.

    Easy way to make it all local and save money! :)

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    I guess I'm in two minds here. I think that illegal objectionable material should be blocked, but I can see how that could impinge on people's freedom if it went beyond what is currently illegal.

    I'm just not that enthusiastic about pornography or violence, even if it is consensual.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I/S: I think the decision to withhold the blacklist has a credible foundation (basically, that releasing the information would enable criminal activity), but it is worth a shot. And yes, the response then was timely, thorough and generally excellent. It's the request to the Ombudsman, and the response from the DIA to the Ombudsman, that seems to be taking time, but who knows where the delay is.

    The reason the British scheme doesn't tell you that the site you're trying to access is blocked is (I assume) to prevent people from reverse-engineering the list. The NZ list is technically reverse-engineerable, and while it would be a vast amount of work it has been done in other countries.

    I've also got concerns about the workload here. Three people to reach a decision on each site. Every single one of 7000 urls reviewed monthly. No budget funds specifically set aside for staffing, only for software and hardware.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    And I understand that a lot of people won't. But 'objectionable' is a subjective term. As Craig suggests, what about 'objectionable' material that's used for academic or theraputic purposes? And look at that list:

    strange precedent to set or message to send -child pornography above all else in the danger stakes.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Any mention of snuff sites or other material of a violent nature?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    strange precedent to set or message to send -child pornography above all else in the danger stakes.

    If I were an Evil Genius, and I wanted to institute extremely invasive censorship without stirring a freedom of speech kerfuffle, this is exactly what I'd do. Start off by ONLY blocking child pornography. Nothing else has the same STFU emotional effect. In Australia, every time someone objects to the filter, Conroy accuses them of being in favour of child pornography. They're protecting children - how could you possibly object?

    Then once you've got it up and running on that basis, you just start quietly slipping in other stuff.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Nothing else has the same STFU emotional effect

    Having been shown people having their throat slashed by an inconsiderate flatmate, and hearing the gargled last gasps for breath, I'd have to disagree with you there Emma.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I'm just not that enthusiastic about pornography or violence, even if it is consensual.

    No-one's asking you to be. But if other people are enthusiastic about reading Justine or perusing Tiny Nibbles or watching Reservoir Dogs, they shouldn't have to rely on other people being enthusiastic about it before they're allowed to.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Having been shown people having their throat slashed by an inconsiderate flatmate, and hearing the gargled last gasps for breath, I'd have to disagree with you there Emma.

    Mark, I don't mean in watching, I mean in dialogue. Hence the phrase 'somebody think of the children'. The Blackout copyright campaign wasn't accused of supporting snuff, they were accused of supporting paedophilia.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Having been shown people having their throat slashed by an inconsiderate flatmate

    That's an ambiguous construction. Just how dodgy was that flatmate?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I think the decision to withhold the blacklist has a credible foundation (basically, that releasing the information would enable criminal activity), but it is worth a shot.

    Definitely. And if it fails, that's what WikiLeaks is for.

    And yes, the response then was timely, thorough and generally excellent. It's the request to the Ombudsman, and the response from the DIA to the Ombudsman, that seems to be taking time, but who knows where the delay is.

    Appeals to the Ombudsmen always take time. Even the most uncontroversial cases (double extensions - illegal and cause for a nastygram) take a month - 6 weeks. Substantive appeals where they actually have to look at things and make a judgement take much longer.

    In Australia, every time someone objects to the filter, Conroy accuses them of being in favour of child pornography. They're protecting children - how could you possibly object?

    And then they quietly add gay porn, straight porn, internet gambling, euthanasia, spotty teen-Satanists, loony Christians, dentists, and people criticising them. Then they wonder why no-one trusts them.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    No-one's asking you to be. But if other people are enthusiastic about reading Justine or perusing Tiny Nibbles or watching Reservoir Dogs, they shouldn't have to rely on other people being enthusiastic about it before they're allowed to.

    All these things are legal.

    Actually I have been thinking further. For example there are Hindu paintings showing a queen mating with a white stallion for a ritual and there are ancient Greek images on pottery that are pornographic. I wouldn't want these things censored. Likewise I read quite a lot of literature that was regarded as immoral when it first appeared, eg. Madame Bovary.

    So no. I change my mind. Whilst I want some things blocked I do think we should be very careful to avoid creep.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Having been shown people having their throat slashed by an inconsiderate flatmate, and hearing the gargled last gasps for breath, I'd have to disagree with you there Emma.

    Sorry, so poorly worded; the throat wasn't slashed by the flatmate. The flatmate thought it would be funny to show me the video.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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