DIA to list child porn sites for voluntary blocking

November 12th, 2007 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

The DIA has announced it will make available to ISPs a list of websites hosting child porn, allowing ISPs to black access to them.

A similar scheme operates in the UK (and other countries).  I was actually involved in helping set up a test of the UK filter by DIA, the Censorship Classification office and InternetNZ.

There were two major issues looked at.  The first is whether the UK filter blocked legitimate sites which did not have material deemed objectionable and illegal under NZ law.  In other words what was the false positive rate?

The second issue was what proportion of child porn sites were blocked?

With regard to the false positive rate, the good news is that it was basically zero.  Almost every site blocked was hosting material illegal under NZ law, and if I recall from the report this wasn’t borderline stuff (a child in a bath) but clearly hardcore illegal material.

In terms of how effective it was at blacking sources of child porn, it wasn’t terribly effective as the number and nature of sites changes daily, so the filter isn’t a universal solution that blocks everything illegal. But it does block some sites, without overextending itself to block legal sites. So that’s not a bad thing.

Since then DIA have also looked at other filtering solutions, and look to run their own filter list, based on info from overseas agencies, plus local reports.

This is really the only way to run a filter – to have it based on actual reports of illegal material, rather than have it “guess” if a site is objectionable based on text searches. One always gets too high a false positive rate using the latter approach. The list of banned sites will be basically updated daily, which is the only way to do it.

So all up, this looks to be a good step forward.  It is voluntary for ISPs, and won’t block all child porn sites, but it will be a useful tool in removing the profit from incredibly sick enterprises.

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13 Responses to “DIA to list child porn sites for voluntary blocking”

  1. Tane (1,096 comments) says:

    Will they be listing your mate Whaleoil? He did, after all, post a 15 year old child’s head onto gay porn. And last time I checked he was still refusing to remove it or apologise to James for what he’d done.

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  2. Zutroy Abadolov (80 comments) says:

    Tane, I think I’ve seen the photo you are referring to, I think its a Wwld leap of your imagination to describe it as “gay porn”.

    Its a guy in his boxer shorts, with his hand slightly tucked into the top of his boxer elastic. Not what I’d call “gay porn”, unless the Labour Party cheer brigade have somehow started channelling Brian Tamaki and become wowsers. If there is a gay version of “Maxim Magazine”, this is probably the equivalent of the big bosomed girl in a bikini.

    Mind you, we wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of your smear attack now, would we?

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  3. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    How do they collect the site data, DPF? Is this a community run black list and will it be available to New Zealand internet businesses?

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  4. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    If it is like overseas people can report sites. Those sites will be visited to see if they hosting child porn, and if so added to the blacklist.

    Best to ask DIA directly.

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  5. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t visiting the sites to check them be breaking the law in itself?

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  6. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    Not if you are a DIA Inspector – they are allowed to for obvious reasons.

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  7. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Well, it appears that some appear to have a firm grasp of what constitutes ‘porn’ based on ‘research’.

    I think intellectuals, researchers, professionals and writers believe they are exempt form the accusation of pornogapher because they are clever, and middle class..

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  8. Chuck Bird (4,895 comments) says:

    Lee, you forgot Labour MP unless they are silly enough to say publicly they they may stand as an independent if they do not get selected.

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  9. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    DPF said…
    Since then DIA have also looked at other filtering solutions, and look to run their own filter list, based on info from overseas agencies, plus local reports.

    This is really the only way to run a filter – to have it based on actual reports of illegal material, rather than have it “guess” if a site is objectionable based on text searches. One always gets too high a false positive rate using the latter approach. The list of banned sites will be basically updated daily, which is the only way to do it.

    David, I made contact twice with the IT guy from DIA that you game me (name & email) but he never replied back, so I haven’t pursued it any further since I assumed that he wasn’t interested in my proposal or otherwise he diddn’t want external consultants to get involve with them. Perhaps they’re already developing something similar, but I seriously doubt that they’re doing that.

    I proposed to him that I could develop the core engine for screening objectionable images based on the wavelet algorithm, where the architecture is described in the following project (WIPE : Wavelet Image Pornography Elimination). The original paper for this WIPE is listed below. [Warning , the paper contain nude pictures that might offend some readers]

    System for Screening Objectionable Images

    There are a number of peer review computing papers that have been published over recent years on systems that scan the internet and index sites with objectionable images and wavelet is one of the top algorithm used. Wavelet is now the adopted standard compression algorithm for JPEG2000.

    The problem, with using text-search to look for objectionable site, is that most of those site owners use non-objectionable texts (words) to describe their sites (education, finance, etc,…), so, key-word search then becomes useless. However nude images can’t lie and wavelet can do exactly that looking at an image and try to understand its content as a human would do. It still has errors (misclassification) but it is low. Here is another interesting paper:

    Blocking objectionable web content by leveraging multiple information sources

    I might try and contact your guy at DIA again.

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  10. SPCS (26 comments) says:

    The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. applauds efforts being made by the DIA to persuade ISPs to blacklist and block all websites hosting child porn….. however it would go much further…..

    For a number of years the Society has been calling on all New Zealand ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block ALL overseas based websites that host child pornography AND hard core pornography (NZ-based websites containing “objectionable content” including child porn are illegal under NZ censorship laws). Gay rights activists, paedophiles, homosexuals wanting to ‘hook up’ with underage school boys or view ‘bare-backing’ films, those addicted to hardcore pornography and all those who make a living from marketing such moral filth, have rubbished the Society’s call for the implementation of such controls to prevent injury to the “public good”. As the Society has repeatedly pointed out, blocking filters able to be used by ISPs have been available for a number of years and have operated effectively in other countries to block objectionable child porn and other “objectionable” content.

    As recently as 1 June 2007 the Society raised its serious concerns over Internet porn with the Minister of Communications, Hon. David Cunnliffe and the Minister of Justice, Hon. Mark Burton. Mr Cunnliffe passed the letter on to Mr Burton to deal with and Mr Burton took two months to reply. He effectively rubbished the Society’s suggestion for a blacklisting of porn sites and ISP controls (see quote from letter below ref. 1), despite the fact that the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) had been working towards trailing such a scheme for many months. One wonders whether the Ministers were even aware of the excellent work carried out by the Censorship Compliance Unit of the DIA headed by Mr Steve O’Brien.

    Finally it was announced yesterday that the DIA would be making available to ISPs a list of websites hosting child porn. Censorship manager Steve O’Brien says the DIA drawn up a list of more than 7000 websites that host illegal material. However, the Society is concerned that only two ISPs agreed to block access to the sites in a trial which has been running for several months but which is still at “the very early stages”. Mr O’Brien says the idea is based on very successful approaches to combating child porn in Norway and Sweden. (Dominion Post 12/11/07).

    On the 6 September 2007 the Minister of Justice, the Hon Mark Burton, M.P. for Taupo, wrote to the Society and effectively rubbished its proposal that a blacklist of objectionable websites be established and mandatory laws be introduced requiring ISPs to block these websites. The Minister replied to the Society’s letter dated 1 June 2007, stating: “Like you, I am concerned about children and young people accessing objectionable material on the internet.” However, consider his comments on the Society’s proposal, which the DIA had been working on at the time he received the Society’s letter:

    “I note your query about a “blacklist” of objectionable websites and the responsibilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to these websites. Unfortunately, establishing a “blacklist” and requiring ISPs to block or restrict access is unlikely to provide a solution. Those who place such images on the internet can also change the web address very quickly and easily. A database of discovered objectionable websites would very quickly become obsolete.”

    The Society maintains that all ISPs have a social. legal and ethical responsibility to block all websites containing objectionable content and it encourages the Censorship Compliance to continue its efforts to work with overseas authorities to identify such sites.

    For more go to:
    Society Applauds ISP blocks on Child Porn
    Press Release 13 November 2007

    http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/society-applauds-dia-trialling-of-blocks-on-child-porn-by-isps/#more-94

    Also see:

    Society Raises Concerns Over Dissemination of Objectionable Internet Content
    August 13, 2007
    http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/society-raises-concerns-over-dissemination-of-objectionable-internet-content/#more-65

    Copy of Correspondence between Minister of Justice Hon. Mark Burton and Society
    http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/minister-of-justice-hon-mark-burton-on-objectionable-internet-content/#more-64

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  11. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    This is all very well and good, my bigger concern is this being extended to categories of “objectionable” material that are far more debatable. E.g. material dealing with watersports (and if you think that’s water skiing then I wont explain), which is legal to practice, but not legal to film.

    Of course our friends SPCS, which is a fundamentalist Christian organisation that believes in interfering in what consenting adults do, under the guise of “protecting children” will be calling for that. It already is with its post above, as the organisations homophobia is stark in the post above – showing concern about “homosexuals wanting to ‘hook up’ with underage school boys or view ‘bare-backing’ films” – why not heterosexuals hooking up with underage girls?

    NZ censorship laws are significantly tougher than the USA and almost all of continental Europe. Stories about bondage have been banned in NZ.

    This thin edge of the wedge is fine in and of itself – the trade in genuine child porn is abominable. However, let’s not kid ourselves that NZ’s censorship laws are just about child abuse, and don’t forget that our own moral Taliban will crusade against the freedoms of consenting adults – whilst few politicians will stand up to fight them.

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  12. SPCS (26 comments) says:

    Liberty Scott clearly does not understand New Zealand censorship laws dealing with “objectionable” publications.

    He gives an example – “material dealing with watersports” – as content matter he says is “far more debatable” than child porn, when it comes to determining whether or not it is “objectionable” and worthy of banning. He seems to think, or maybe would like to think, that the law is unclear, ambiguous or vague when it comes to dealing with what he refers to as “water sports”, while in contrast it is very clear when it comes to banning child porn.

    However “watersports” – is listed in the deeming provisions of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) under section 3(2) along with child porn and other nasties (bestiality, sexual violence):

    “A publication shall be deemed to be objectionable for the purposes of this Act if the publication promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support –

    “(a) The expolitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes, or ……

    …(d) The use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct or sexual conduct…”

    Section 3(2) of the Act treats publications dealing with the promotion of child porn and those promoting degrading sexual conduct such as “water sports”, in the same way – they both must be deemed “objectionable” by the censors. Here, it is depiction of the degrading and dehumanising of individuals that is the primary focus of the law – in association with urination and excrement. Such degrading content is illegal, when the activities are supported or promoted. The threshold for promotion is low (“tends to promote or support”).

    So-called “sexual fetish material” (DVDs, videos etc) involving urination (referred to as “water sports in hardcore porn publications) is imported into New Zealand by homosexuals and other sexual pervets (many heterosexual) via the internet. Those caught by customs officers and/or the censorship compliance unit of the Department of Internal Affairs face prosecution and public humiliation. See recent reports involving a Wellington businessman convicted in the High Court of importing such material via the internet. He was named and his background outlined in a Dominion Post report. For summaries and SPCS commentary see

    http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/censors-and-banned-porn-imports/

    http://www.spcs.org.nz/2007/prosecuting-internet-porn-purchases/

    Liberty Scott claims that “watersports” is legal to practice, but not legal to film. This is misleading.

    In relation to a “film” (involving visual moving images” eg. DVD, video), the censorship law deals with “objectionable” publications in terms of the “supply to the public”; NOT the nature of filming event per se. However, once the publication is in existence then the law can be applied and individuals charged and convicted. The posssession of an “objectionable” publication involving so-called “water sports” is an offence under s. 131 of the Act. It is illegal to possess or “supply” such material. One cannot appeal to the defence line in Court “I only imported it for private use” (- Yeah right!) and expect the Judge to accept it.

    The Chief Censor regularly bans objectionable publications – some on the grounds of material involving activities Liberty Scott describes by the dishonest euphemism “water sports”. Indeed his Office ruled that the degrading and pernicious material in this category recently imported by a Wellington businessman referred to above, was “objectionable”.

    Liberty Scott suggests that the “freedoms of consenting adults” to retain the right to be titilated by watching DVDs depictng “water sorts” or engaging in such filming events as participants, have been severely brutalised and curtailed by NZ censorship laws and their implementation. If so, why does Liberty Scott not rail against the “moral Taliban” (his term of abuse) in the Chief Censor’s Office – who authorise the banning of the “water sports”; material he appears to want to be able to enjoy and supply to others. Perhaps he could clarify the basis of the urgency he feels and his inner motivation, to carry out a moral “crusade” to have such activities as “water sports” normalised and able to be enjoyed on DVD etc.

    Liberty Scott claims he’s right (morally) and those who may not share his views are wrong – furthermore they are crusading “moral Taliban”. Such exuberant language is unbecoming of a champion of liberty.

    Does Liberty Scott reserve the right to be able to watch DVDs and videos in private and enjoy films in public cinemas featuring explicit scenes of “rimming” and “fisting” – involving the bodily emisions listed in s. 3(2)(d) of the Act etc. – all activities engaged in by many homosexuals, according to their own literature? If so why does he not extend his moral crusade to have such content matter made legal?

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  13. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    No, I know the law is clear, and I oppose it. However, SPCS speaks volumes about its own depraved view of people which is almost psychotic in its judgment. It is seen in the rabid detail by which it goes into these matters, following pornography with a passion that you only ever see in sexual addicts. Maybe there is nothing in it, but it certainly always raises eyebrows with me as to how much people know about something they say they don’t like.

    To call people who import sexual fetish material “homosexuals” and “other sexual perverts” ignores another law – the Human Rights Act – which prohibits this sort of anti-homosexual bigotry. Oh I forgot SPCS only cheerleads the laws it likes – in other words just like me. I happen to oppose the Human Rights Act myself, but it shows SPCS is not a great bastion of supporting absolute law enforcement.

    I stand by my point that it is legal to use urine in sexual practices with consenting adults, in fact in any way you can conceive. It is illegal to produce or possess images of you doing so. This is completely absurd. To ban publications depicting that which is legal is a nonsense.

    THAT is the basis of the urgency that I think. I don’t supply pornography so have no commercial interest in this whatsoever, and watersports aren’t my thing. My motivation is freedom of consenting adults to engage in whatsoever they wish with their own bodies, and not have others police their behaviour.

    I simply want the government and the likes of SPCS to leave consenting adults alone. So I do want people to be able to enjoy any material showing consenting adults.

    The Chief Censor’s Office applies the law, I have supported a political party that has lobbied Parliament on this and called for the law to change. I’ll continue to do so, and I DO equate the views of the SPCS with the Taliban. The Taliban were joyless bullies who policed what adults could hear, watch, say, wear and do – the SPCS wants to do the same thing on a smaller scale – but with the same rabid hatred for human sexuality outside their own religiously prescribed agenda. Yes I do think I am right and those who disagree are wrong, if I didn’t what would be the point of having views? I agree SPCS can lobby as much as it can, but I don’t need to think it is right – but I support fully the right of SPCS to not consume any publications it does not agree with. I’d hope it would agree with the right of adults to do the same, as long as such publications were not produced associated with criminal acts.

    Oh and I’m not homosexual, but funny how SPCS thinks that rimming is primarily a gay thing.

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