Another Internal Affairs Letter

A further response from the Department of Internal Affairs (page 1, page 2, page 3).

Some points from their letter:

  • The Internet filtering system will be going live “within two months”.
  • Public records? Those reports that we used to censor certain websites based on their content and then deleted are public records? Cor.
  • Confirmation that all traffic (chat, file sharing, email, etc) other than web traffic is passed through the filter without being checked.
  • Confirmation that all HTTPS (secure web traffic such as used by banks and shopping sites) is passed through the filter without being checked.
  • Three people will be employed maintaining the filtering system, although they might have other duties as well.

Internet Connection

The Internet filter server will be using a “fibre optic cable at 100Mb/sec” at a cost of $2000 per month.

After talking to people in the industry, this sounds like it will be a connection through the Wellington Citylink network and at that price will probably include 5-10Mbps of paid for Internet bandwidth.

Filtered Content

Finally there are a series of questions & answers about the type of content they’re blocking.

First they respond with “All of the websites that were on the filtering list hosted images of child sexual abuse.”

But when asked about link sites, the response is very carefully written: “Some of the websites that were on the filtering list contained thumbnail sized child sexual abuse images as part of galleries and links to websites hosting objectionable material. There were no sites that did not include images of child sexual abuse, even if only thumbnail images.”

Of course, this in direct contradiction to what they have told other people as documented here (in both the article and the comments).

I hope the Ombudsman hurries up with their decision about releasing the list.

2 Responses to “Another Internal Affairs Letter”

  1. 1Jack M. on Aug 25, 2009 at 9:21 am:

    (You posted page 2 twice, missed out page 3)

    So that stuff about text files being blocked doesn’t sound like it’s going ahead (at this stage)…?

    – Jack

  2. 2thomas on Aug 25, 2009 at 9:30 am:

    Oops, fixed the link. Sorry about that.

    Text files – not sure. It seems that we get different responses depending on who is asking and who is answering.

    I also note that they are admitting to blocking “link” sites but then quickly say that they only did so if they had thumbnail images. I’m experiencing some doubt on this.

    It’s exactly this sort of confusion that explains why we need a way to audit their list.

    And as for Justin’s message, I can’t help feeling that it’s just a spam trying to get more Google pagerank for their filtering system.