There have been requests for an elaboration on Labour’s position on internet filtering following my previous post two days ago. Here’s what I sent to Tech Liberty lobbyist Thomas Beagle in late July in response to his request about where Labour sits on censoring the internet.
In November 2008 the Labour Government introduced a programme of test filtering on a trial basis blocking access to the approximate 7000 websites, known to deal with exclusively child sexual abuse imagery.
At the time, the Hon David Cunliffe said “The programme intends to contribute to the safety of the public’s online experience by preventing inadvertent access to this type of objectionable material. It also intends to contribute to international efforts against the production of and trade in child sexual abuse imagery.
There are no plans for the programme to be expanded to other types of illegal material.”
He also stated that New Zealand had no intention of following Australia’s legislation of mandatory filtering by ISPs. New Zealand’s response to undesirable material has been an emphasis on education, as demonstrated by Netsafe. The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act had no legislative authority for website filtering, he said.
The previous Labour Government action was in response to a proposal from ECPAT NZ, part of a global organisation which aims to eliminate child prostitution and pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
There were clear guidelines around privacy protection. The system had been successfully trialled in Sweden.
ISPs joined the programme on a voluntary basis. Labour’s policy hasn’t changed.
I believe there is a need for further discussion within our caucus on these matters. My view is that a voluntary, opt in system for ISPs to a contained filtering programme focussed solely on child sexual abuse is about as far as you’d want to go. I’m keen to learn more about why some of you believe filters don’t work.