Why Internet Filtering Concerns Me

I have recently been writing some entries about internet censorship/filtering and how it is about to be implemented in New Zealand. (See my Frequently Asked Questions list for more information about it.)

I thought it might be worth explaining why I am concerned about the prospect of an internet filtering scheme being implemented in New Zealand.

  • There is no external oversight of which sites are banned. I believe that censorship in a democratic society should be as open as possible.
  • While the internet filtering may be voluntary for ISPs, with most of the big ISPs on board (i.e. Telecom/Xtra, TelstraClear, Vodafone/Ihug) it will not be voluntary for normal internet users. I also believe it will be very politically difficult for an ISP to withdraw from the scheme once they have joined.
  • It is being implemented in a very “under the radar” way so as to avoid the fuss that has been raised in other countries such as Australia. If we are going to implement internet filtering I believe it should be done openly and through law, not stealthily and through a pseudo-voluntary scheme.
  • It is giving the government a powerful tool to suppress information on a medium that many people find too open. While the current public plan is to only use it for child pornography, I expect that it will be expanded to cover other material in reaction to events.
  • The proposed internet filtering will not be very effective as a) it relies on manually adding websites to the filter, b) it is relatively easy for motivated users to circumvent it by using web proxies located in other countries. If so… why are we bothering?

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