New Zealanders are already being spied on wholesale. Legally too.

What is the fuss about the GCSB and NSA? Our Dept of Internal Affairs conducts widespread Internet surveillance with international cooperation to catch child pornographers every day of the week:

What is the Department’s response to concerns that the filter impacts on the civil liberties of New Zealand internet users?

No one has the right to view illegal content that focuses on the sexual abuse of children; just as no one has a right to import illegal books and DVDs.

The filter will focus solely on websites offering clearly illegal, objectionable images of child sexual abuse.

It is a prevention tool, not a law enforcement tool and the anonymity of anyone who is blocked from accessing objectionable sites will be preserved.

The Department is concerned about the sexual abuse of children involved in the creation of the objectionable pictures.

The adults who make, trade or view these in New Zealand are parties to a serious offence. They contribute to an international market that supports and encourages further abuse.

The children who are victims of this activity sometimes suffer the psychological effects of their abuse for many years after the physical offending has ended.

Images that are distributed on the Internet never go away. With each download the person involved is re-victimised.  

Even though the filter is narrow – just Internet locations that have been identified as sources or end-points of child porn or related activities, the majority of New Zealanders are being filtered to see if you visit them or not.  This is a form of mass-surveillance we all put up with for “a greater good”.

We give away a small part of our civil liberties to protect those that need it.

What assurances are there that the filter will not in future be extended to block content other than that intended?

The Department’s contract for the use of the software that supports the DCEFS constrains its use to filtering child sexual abuse material.

A Code of Practice has been put in place to govern the operation of the system and an Independent Reference Group (IRG) appointed to ensure the Department holds to its promise that the filter will focus solely on objectionable websites.

As the system advises people that they have been blocked, any departure from that stated aim would be widely publicised and participating ISPs would withdraw from using the system.

The fact that the system is voluntary provides an important further assurance that the system will keep to its stated purpose and that concerns about “scope creep” are unfounded.

Should ISPs be concerned with the direction of the filtering system, they are able to withdraw.

People need to calm down a bit.   Legal, wide-spread surveillance of New Zealanders already exists to catch child pornographers and their ‘clients’.

Please do not stop them from doing it.

Spying is like any other tool – it can be used properly, or poorly.

The current debate seems to be going towards not having any spying at all.  Yet there is a legitimate use for the ability to spy on anyone, based on trying to identify real threats at a much higher level.

Let’s all take a deep breath and not get wound up by a couple of overseas idiots with 3 Powerpoint slides.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.