Today I met with some of the staff in the Censorship Unit at the Department of Internal Affairs to discuss the Internet filtering system.
Here’s some of what I learnt:
- The Censorship Unit prosecute approximately 40-50 people a year for trading in child pornography, with a conviction rate of over 90%. Most of these are using P2P file sharing.
- The purpose of the filter is not to stop the hard core traders, but to stop the casual and curious. The view is that a curious person will be sucked into getting more and more.
- The Enterprise (final live system) Internet filtering system will be installed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Initially all traffic will go through the Auckland location with the others as redundant fail-over sites, eventually the traffic will be load-balanced between the sites.
- The system also has redundant Internet connections.
- The DIA claims that a major outage would be resolved in 5-10 minutes at worst.
- The DIA say that the cost of the system is approximately $30k a year plus Internet and staff costs.
- They really do re-check 7000 sites each month. Apparently there are three checkers who spend about an hour each working day, checking about 120 sites each an hour.
- The Code of Practice is being rewritten somewhat in response to the submissions. In particular, the role of the Independent Reference Group (IRG) will be better defined.
- The IRG will have access to the reports about the websites as well as the details of the appeal.
- The DIA have been speaking to likely bodies to see if they wish to be part of the IRG.
- There may be a role for the Office of Film and Literature Classification in auditing the list of banned sites.
- We confirmed that the system doesn’t work with HTTPS (encrypted web traffic) and the new IP version 6.
- The NetClean (the filtering product being used) contract specifies that the system can only be used to filter child pornography.
- They say that they wouldn’t add Wikileaks to the filter if a copy of the list turned up there.
I will be updating the FAQs accordingly.