DIA and the Child Porn Filter

July 17th, 2009 at 8:44 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Internet service providers will soon begin blocking access to hundreds of websites that are on a secret blacklist compiled by the Department of Internal Affairs, but critics say the system lacks transparency.

Some – those that choose to use the service.

There are two sorts of views about the desirability of a voluntary filtering scheme to block child pron sites. Both have some validity.

One view is that any sort of filtering sets a bad precedent. That if you accept a filter for sites, then someone may propose a filter for copyright infringing sites, or sites that advocate crime, or sites that are defamatory of someone. The concern is that this is the thin end of the wedge. The argument is you don’t block sites to stop people breaking the law, you prosecute them afterwards for doing so.

The other view is that if ISPs do not act to voluntarily block access to child porn sites, then it will give ammunition to those who want compulsory filtering such as in Australia, and that such compulsory filters may be far wider than just child pornography. It is better for most ISPs to have input into a voluntary filtering scheme, than have a compulsory one implemented on them.

The department this week announced its new Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which it said would help fight child sex abuse. The $150,000 software will be provided free of charge to ISPs in a couple of months and will reroute all site requests to Government-owned servers. The software, called Whitebox, compares users’ site requests with a list of banned links. If a match is found, the request is denied. It will not cover email, file sharing or borderline material.

The best info on the proposed scheme comes from Thomas Beagle who has an FAQ on it.

Critics say the system has been introduced by stealth and lacks accountability. The department will not disclose the 7000 objectionable websites for fear “inevitably some people would visit them in the interim”, effectively facilitating further offending and making the department party to the further exploitation of children.

Through my work with , I got briefed on the proposed scheme some months ago.To be honest I did not realise until recently that info on the proposed scheme wasn’t in the public domain. As had been talking to various ISPs, I just assumed it wasn’t a big secret. I actually suggested the be invited to make a presentation to the AGM, which is a public forum, and they seemed relaxed at that. I suspect it has been “secret” more by neglect rather than design.

InternetNZ has had a healthy constructive relationship with DIA for some years. Around four years ago we supplied a technical expert to test the UK filtering scheme, and to check for stuff like false positives – ie does the filter block sites that are not hosting child pornography.

In terms of listing the websites that will be blocked, I have some sympathy for the notion that this is undesirable as it is like publishing a guide to find all the child porn sites. But I also understand that many people could be nervous with a regime of “Just trust the DIA”. A suggestion I made was that maybe one could have the Office of the Auditor-General empowered to audit the filter list every six months or so, to certify it has not been expanded beyond its mandate. Mind you I feel sorry for the poor staffer who would have to check some of the sites out to do such verificiation.

Internal Affairs censorship compliance head Steve O’Brien said the blacklist would be personally reviewed by staff each month and would be restricted to paedophilic content only.

This was a key area I quizzed the DIA staffer on. I am very much oppossed to filters that work on keywords, assumptions etc as these inevitable have false positives – they block sites they should not. A manually reviewed list is the only way to go.

Also essential (to me) is that the filter will be directed towards child porn sites only, and not all sites with “objectionable” content. While most prosecutions in NZ for “objectionable” content relate to child porn, the definition of objectionable is wider. It includes (for example) sex involving urine or faeces. It is somewhat strange that it is not actually illegal to perform or receive a golden shower, but it is illegal to view an imagine of a golden shower!

Now just so no one gets the wrong idea, I find the idea of sex involving wees or poos as bloody disgusting, and am not a champion for such practises. Yuck. But they are not like child porn, in that child porn has actual real victims – the abused kids. So to my mind it is important a filer targets child porn only, and not the wider definition of all objectionable or illegal material. DIA agree, which is good. I imagine the fear of some people is that the definition could be widened in future. For my part I don’t detect any desire on behalf of DIA to grow it in future. They have a pretty nasty job to do, and generally do it pretty well. That is not to say I agree with everything they do.

Filtering systems in Australia, Denmark and Britain have been accused of serious flaws, with unexplained blacklistings of straight and gay pornography, Wikipedia articles and small businesses.

Yep errors do get made. However there is a system to get a decision reviewed if you get told a site is blocked, and you think it should not be.

Mr Beagle said he favoured providing optional clean feeds for users, but believed Governments would be tempted to expand the blacklist in reaction to events.

I am against any filter being compulsory for ISPs. And I agree user level decisions are best. But personally I am pretty relaxed about individual ISPs making a decision about whether or not they would use the DIA filter – so long as they do so transparently and inform customers they have done so. Some ISPs may even use it as a marketing tool that they provide a slightly “safer” environment, while other ISPs may choose not to take part, and use the fact they are unfiltered as a marketing tool.

What would I do if my ISP, choose to use the DIA filter? So long as it was restricted to child porn sites only, and so long as there was some sort of external review (such as the Office of the Auditor-General), I would stay with that ISP.

Some ISPs could even choose to provide it as an option for customers to select as a preference, but I understand that require a bit more than just a line of code.

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66 Responses to “DIA and the Child Porn Filter”

  1. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    And meanwhile, in the UK Labour have plans to impose a new system of registration to pre-check the 9.6m folks who

    have cause to work with Children or the Vulnerable.

    250 GBP, per registration. Frankly it is another department to populate, and more money in pensions to fund.

    The madness never stops, and there is no guarantee of success.

    Given civil servants propensity to lose lap tops. memory drives, and sticks. There would be police generated information, based on subjective assessment that would soon fall into the wrong hands.

    Children need protecting, but delivery drivers, IT support staff, authors, artists, and the whole gambit of EVERY trade that interacts with children and the vulnerable is now legislated to cough up the money.

    Day-light robbery.

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  2. davidp (3,573 comments) says:

    I can’t believe that there are 7000 child porn sites out there. If so, why were none of them on the leaked Australian blocked site list which contained, overwhelmingly, vanilla porn and image aggregators?

    I saw an exhibit on NZ’s colonial ties to the Pacific at the National Library a few years ago. One of the displays was discussing the different censorship regime that NZ operated for the islands. One of the things banned was Tin Tin, because showing a dog “outsmarting white people” would give the islanders ideas. I believe that any system of censorship will attract the sort of people who like to use the law to force their beliefs and value judgments on to others, which is why they’re all bad to one extent or another. Even if something that sort of worked in the days of newspapers and films is going to be even slightly effective in the era of the Internet.

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,280 comments) says:

    To be honest I did not realise until recently that info on the proposed scheme wasn’t in the public domain.

    Nope – it was so secret even the communications and IT Minister hadn’t heard of it:

    Ref: Joyce: Internet filtering off the agenda in NZ.

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  4. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Some ISPs – those that choose to use the service.”

    Could someone please list those ISPs who have agreed to participate in this archaic and totalitarian plan?

    Consumers should be advised of who these belly crawling government sycophants are, so that they can unsubscribe from them, and subscribe to the ISPs who are not participating.

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  5. xxx (35 comments) says:

    I believe that any system of censorship will attract the sort of people who like to use the law to force their beliefs and value judgments on to others, which is why they’re all bad to one extent or another.

    In short, politicians.

    Such a lazy clumsy tool as this will be abused by politicians. And the fact is we have greater more pressing problems than internet child porn in NZ, so there’s the proof of intent.

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  6. petal (705 comments) says:

    Instead of having a list of 7000 to block, isn’t that a list of 7000 sites and operators to take down?

    [DPF: Some are taken down, but they just move elsewhere. DIA would have the details, but I think a lot get hosted in Eastern Europe where authorities are difficult to get action out of]

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  7. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Thanks for that link Mr. Edgeler.

    “We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here,” says Communications and IT minister Steven Joyce.

    Jellyback Joyce has already demonstrated himself to be a politician who, in lieu of any personal political convictions, trips over himself in his eagerness to do the bidding of the shiny arsed empire building bureaucrats in Wellington that control him. Most notably those posturing as caring about road safety.

    If it is only Mr. Jellyback Joyce who is standing between this stinking scheme and the public, then you can bet your house it will proceed.

    If only there were some politicians in NZ who understood they are in the NZ parliament to do the bidding of the people who elected them, and not to fawn to the condescending tax parasites posing as our carers and keepers.

    (Then again, Jellyback was a list candidate IIRC, and wasn’t elected was he? )

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  8. peterwn (3,238 comments) says:

    This is a vexed political problem that will not go away. The internet potentially provides a major challenge to the review regime for ‘objectionable’ material. The present regime is not something foisted on NZ by faceless bureaucrats but is a ‘compromise’ between views and aspirations of different parts of society (possibly represented by Patricia Bartlett in one corner and Moonan who allegedly imported kiddie porn in the other corner).

    If sufficient of the population get very concerned over this sort of thing, the Government will feel it is obliged to act. Kiddie porn is at the ‘sharp end’ of all this. This is well illustrated by the ‘Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993′ deliberately singling out kiddie porn almost as a class of its own.

    The DIA would seem to be making a reasoned and transparent response to the problem and this has the advantage that it it stave off moves of the Australian sort. The key thing at present is that a user would be properly informed of an attempted access of a ‘barred’ site and this would enable botch-ups to be remedied or if need be political action to be taken if too much is being blocked.

    A future problem is going to be that of satellite ISP’s which transcend national borders. This will place further pressure on repressive regimes such as the ‘Peoples’ Republic of China and the Taleban, but again the kiddie porn problem will probably be a spur for international action.

    Remember too the former local body politician who called for internet curbs during election campaigns at a Select Committee hearing. While she was soundly trashed in Kiwiblog and elsewhere, she would have a ready audience for her views.

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  9. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “This is a vexed political problem that will not go away.”

    As long as people keep saying that, of course it won’t.

    Its not a problem. Consumers can buy filtering software and install it on their own computers.

    This is an attempt to stifle freedom of expression cloaked in the usual despicable device of caring for those who cannot care for themselves. There is only one real defense, and that is to take the names of all involved, so that when the freedom revolution comes, they can be seen to be among the first swinging in the wind from good rope on sturdy lamposts.

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  10. davidp (3,573 comments) says:

    peterwn>Kiddie porn is at the ’sharp end’ of all this.

    But, oddly, a man who once paid millions of bucks to settle a child abuse law suit has appeared just about every night for the last few weeks on government owned TV and is treated as some sort of hero.

    People are opposed to child abuse. But if you’re real famous, then it’s okay.

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  11. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    The fact that Kiwis are even willing to accept state censorship of the internet shows that they have bowed down to Big Brother.

    My personal moral code says that viewing child porn is wrong, but I also believe that it should not be a crime.

    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/internet-censorship-has-arrived-in-nz/

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  12. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    “It is somewhat strange that it is not actually illegal to perform or receive a golden shower, but it is illegal to view an imagine of a golden shower!”

    Or read a story describing it… (unless cleared by the Censor).

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  13. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    Can’t agree with you KP. In my job we get to see the photos the subject of charges and I firmly believe that they should be criminal. Admittedly, some that DIA prosecute are borderline, especially when charges relate to stories or cartoons and not actual photographs or video clips, but others are just horrifying. Many of these images clearly depict the sexual molestation of young children, some even just babies.

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  14. Foobar (1 comment) says:

    Authorities in eastern Europe are not the problem As I described here ( http://www.geekzone.co.nz/foobar/6637 ) most hosters don’t want anything to do with child-porn. Even in their country it is illegal. They often don’t need an official take-down notice. Just an email or phone call to them to let them know what is hosted on their server is very often enough for them to take action on their own and delete the smut from their servers that often they didn’t know was there.

    This was tested with some of the leaked block-lists that were used by European countries: 9 out of 10 hosters that were randomly contacted very swiftly removed the content.

    The DIA can do the same. But they choose not to.

    As someone else here said, this is the thin end of the wedge: Covered under the justifiable outrage about child-porn, the government manages to sneak a censorship infrastructure into the only truly free communication medium the people have.

    And just because the DIA ‘right now’ has no desire to use this for other purposes doesn’t mean that this can’t change in the future. Once the DIA has that infrastructure in place others in government can approach them with their own ‘use case’ for this technology: Different offices and government branches have cooperated before.

    Look, child-porn is and should remain illegal. Those who produce it in particular should be prosecuted to the full extend of the law.

    But everyone who wants to protect themselves from this can do so easily with private filtering software they can install themselves. And besides, it’s close to impossible to just stumble over this stuff, you really have to go looking for it.

    It’s just a distraction from the real issue.

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  15. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    FE Smith: if you read my post it will all make sense (I hope).

    I have to depart from Blogland now.

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  16. xxx (35 comments) says:

    The key thing at present is that a user would be properly informed of an attempted access of a ‘barred’ site and this would enable botch-ups to be remedied or if need be political action to be taken if too much is being blocked.

    If sufficient of the population get very concerned over this sort of thing, the Government will feel it is obliged to act. Kiddie porn is at the ’sharp end’ of all this.

    These ideas rest on the belief that government will place their goals as seconday to the opinions of the people. I think the events surrounding the 2008 election, and Key’s ongiong adoption of Labour type attitudes (e.g. referendums, policy backtracks) should prove that this is not the case.

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  17. Chuck Bird (4,825 comments) says:

    I have read KP’s link. Following his logic snuff movies or a video or real rape and torture should be legal. It seems to me that common sense would tell anyone that people paying to view or buy these movies encourages the crimes against the victims. My advice to KP would be if there is a conflict between common sense and you philosophy there is probably something wrong with your philosophy.

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  18. Chuck Bird (4,825 comments) says:

    People are opposed to child abuse. But if you’re real famous, then it’s okay.

    I heard a few women ring up defending the paedophile with comments like he was proved innocent. It was a different story when Clint Rickard was found not guilt.

    Paedophilia is a serious crime and so should it be a serious crime to facilitate it.

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  19. StuFleming (4 comments) says:

    There is some public info about the scheme at the DIA web site. I think that they have been reasonably open about the technology and trials that they have been doing.

    There is some debate about how easy it is for ISPs to use the scheme. If it is ISP opt-in, it’s straightforward (with some wrinkles). If it is CUSTOMER opt-in, it’s a lot harder.

    I wondered at first if there was a turf war between MED and DIA with respect to the conflicting statements.

    As an ISP, there’s a conflict here. If the technical solution to provide customer opt-in is hard, then it won’t get done. If the ISP opts in, the customer doesn’t get the choice to have unencumbered Internet. The number of customers who do BGP (which is one of the ways to enable customer opt-in) to residential customers is…small.

    I don’t have a full position on this yet – I’m still wading through the recent debate on a couple of mailing lists.

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  20. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    “I heard a few women ring up defending the paedophile with comments like he was proved innocent. It was a different story when Clint Rickard was found not guilt.”

    Brilliant comment and agree totally, especially the comparison to the Rickards matter.

    Remember, everybody, Jackson was not proved innocent. The stupid jury that couldn’t get the right answer even though it was staring them in the face (maybe it was from Christchurch!) simply found there wasn’t enough evidence that proved the allegations beyond reasonable doubt. The verdict does not mean he was innocent, or even that the jury thought he was innocent… :)

    More seriously, KP: I read your comments and disagree with them when you are talking about photographs or video of actual abuse. Stories or cartoons I am definitely open to persuasion on, in fact I may even be with you on that.

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  21. paradigm (507 comments) says:

    Anyone have some figures on what fraction of peadophiles actually use web to distribute their filth?

    For some reason I got the idea that the majority used stuff like irc, which don’t require such details as a domain name to be registered and thus avoid a paper trail.

    If so then this is little more than a feel good solution that won’t significantly help stop the bastards.

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  22. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    With respect, you’re all missing my point. In my post I clearly differentiate between viewing and making child porn.

    Chuck Bird: have a look at footnote #2.

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  23. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    Censorship by any govt. type organisation is bad. Anytime. Anyplace.

    The line between censoring child porn and censoring anything else the govt. of the day (or one of it’s minions) decides it doesn’t want the populace to view/know is too bloody thin.

    Give the select few power to judge what people can watch/do and they’ll abuse that power at some time – that rule is absolute.

    I’m all for prosecuting and publicly shaming anyone who abuses children, or facilitates the abuse of children (kiddie porn buyers, users etc. – stocks in town squares would be good) but never, ever, will I accept the need for censorship by anyone not directly involved. i.e. by anyone not a child’s parent or guardian.

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  24. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    KP, I have got your point and I still disagree!

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  25. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    F E Smith:

    What’s criminal about viewing kiddie porn? Who’s being harmed?

    (Once again, I believe that viewing child porn is disgusting and immoral. I’m talking about criminality here)

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  26. xxx (35 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird nails it: if morality and values are not your guide for law making then what the hell is? Even using what is and what isn’t profitable is a value judgement.

    If a child is sexually abused and the images sold, and that’s not criminal because someone can choose to buy them, or not, then when does murder become legal? When the mob thinks you owe them too much money? When government thinks your dissidence is costing them too much or you increase the cost of a “common good” development by arguing? At what point do we start culling the elderly? Your laws would be quite interesting and closer to feudal tribalism than democracy. Would you feel more at home living in Bolvia?

    in anycase it’s a pointless examination. No such laws exist and never will. People are part emotions part rationality and the idea of hygenic consistency in all things is best left to teenage atheists who say there is no god because mommy didn’t buy them a pony when they were 5.

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  27. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Could someone please list those ISPs who have agreed to participate in this archaic and totalitarian plan?

    Thomas Beagle — the guy linked in the article — is building a list. If you are interested in this subject at all, you need to subscribe to his blog.

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  28. beautox (438 comments) says:

    What concerns me most is the performance aspects of this:

    > reroute all site requests to Government-owned servers. The software, called Whitebox, compares users’ site requests with a list of banned links. If a match is found, the request is denied

    So every website request is rerouted to these government servers. Great. So how much is this going to slow things down. Bear in mind that loading a single webpage can often mean many many site requests. This is going to clog things up big time.

    And all for nothing. The KP merchants are not stupid, certainly not as stupid as the govt, and as soon as their sites are on the blacklist, they will get moved.

    A complete waste of time and money. Just like everything else the govt does…

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  29. Ed Snack (1,833 comments) says:

    Censorship is censorship, no matter how you define it. “Slippery Slope” arguments are difficult to sustain but here is a classic case where I believe one can be applied. Anyway, what’s to stop the use of anonymous proxies to visit where you like, or are they next to be targeted, followed by Climate Change Denier sites and other heretical belief promoters ?

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  30. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    There is so much of it, no one will ever filter it out without slowing the internet to less than useful speeds.

    The government is about to spend squiliions on high speed cable while DIA slows us down to 56kbps.

    How much kiddie porn is there? Here is a list I managed to find, one the DIA may or may not already have.

    http://www.detritus.org/agency/kid_porn.html

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  31. Chris2 (772 comments) says:

    I’ve met the DIA inspectors who do this work. They are an agreeable bunch, mostly ex-cops, but there are only a very very small number of them and there is absolutely no way they could have possibly viewed, then assessed 7000 sites as objectionable – they simply don’t have the staff to do this. Which begs the question, who compiled the list?

    My guess is that 99% of the list would have been acquired from overseas counterparts. I have no problem with DIA inspectors, knowledgeable in NZ indecency laws, making judgments about what is objectionable under NZ law (I still don’t agree with concept of filtering though), but I draw the line at the Department lazily accepting and incorporating foreign assessments into its database.

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  32. backster (2,140 comments) says:

    I support every endeavour being made to eliminate child porn from the net, and I am pleased that my ISP Telstra Clear also supports it.
    As for Michael JACKSON I did follow the case as far as possible and I was inclined to agree that because of the immense sums of money involved the correct verdict was reached. In the earlier case there wasn’t a prosecution because JACKSON paid off the complainant, but Jackson was so weird that that alone doesn’t imply guilt,it was probably the most practical and efficient way to dispose of a problem.
    Other factors which have become known since his death are that when Jackson visited NZ. he is said to have made the largest donation ever received by Starship Hospital, and according to his promotor drove round South Auckland handing out tens of thousands of dollars to deprived households. He also reserved the 200 best seats at his shows free to handicapped or dis-advantaged kidss. In every instance he insisted on absolutely no publicity….While it seems he had a definite un-natural interest in children it doesn’t mean it had to be sexual, well I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt anyhow.

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  33. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    Chris2: The DIA inspectors don’t make the call on what is objectionable. When they find publications that they believe are objectionable then they need to refer them to the Censor’s office for classification. Usually they will do a ‘representative’ sample of what is found and extrapolate out. If we (the defence) are not willing to accept that then we can ask for all of the images to be checked, but that is usually pointless as it is usually very obvious what is objectionable and what is not.

    KP: All law regulates morality to some extent. That is the nature of it. One of the ways that we regulate criminal behaviour is by punishing those who encourage, in some way or other, those who commit criminal acts. So we punish those who received stolen goods in just the same way as those to steal the items. We punish those who purchase illicit drugs just as we punish those who produce or sell them. We do this on the basis that if we reduce demand then we might reduce supply. Funnily enough, it does work to some extent with stolen goods because the receivers often get similar, or only slightly lesser, sentences to thieves/burglars. It doesn’t work with drugs so well because we don’t give purchasers the same penalties as dealers/producers.

    The same argument is applied to child porn, which is far worse than any bit of theft or drug dealing. If we punish the end users then we have a good chance of reducing demand. Child porn is not some random thing that happens from time to time. It is organised and detestable. While some kid obtaining child porn off a peer to peer network might not be contributing financially to the producer, the fact remains that many people are willing to pay money to access child pornography and that directly encourages the production of it.

    I have acted for persons charged with these type of offences. Uniformly they have psychological problems. It is an addiction that ruins those who suffer from it. But every person who views and/or possesses child porn for their own use is standing alongside those who produce it, complicit in the crime.

    I understand your argument. There are times when I might accept it. But not on this subject. Never on this subject.

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  34. Ruth (178 comments) says:

    I support every endeavour being made to eliminate child porn from the net, and I am pleased that my ISP Telstra Clear also supports it.
    As for Michael JACKSON I did follow the case as far as possible and I was inclined to agree that because of the immense sums of money involved the correct verdict was reached. In the earlier case there wasn’t a prosecution because JACKSON paid off the complainant, but Jackson was so weird that that alone doesn’t imply guilt,it was probably the most practical and efficient way to dispose of a problem.

    Great post backster. Being weird isn’t a crime.

    I also support every endeavour to eliminate child porn from the net. Libertarians should consider the founding non-initiation of force principle.

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  35. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    F E Smith, if the war on child porn is as successful as the war on drugs then we have yet another budding disaster caused entirely by our legal system. I expect it will be.

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  36. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    I understand your argument. There are times when I might accept it. But not on this subject. Never on this subject.

    If it you are willing to accept my argument in some situations you are acknowledging that my argument is correct. The logic of an argument is independent of the circumstances, but you are choosing to ignore my argument when it comes to child porn – apparently because of your (understandable) emotional reaction to kiddie porn.

    To put it another way, by acknowledging that my argument is correct in some circumstances you are acknowledging that is correct in all circumstances, but you are choosing to ignore it in this circumstance :)

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  37. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Ruth:

    Libertarians should consider the founding non-initiation of force principle.

    Already done:

    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/internet-censorship-has-arrived-in-nz/

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    What Redbaiter said.

    The list of sites banned by the Australian system was released by Wikileaks. You can go there and check what I’m about to say yourself, if you like.

    I went through that list and selected a dozen sites at random to visit. Not one had any child pornography or indeed “objectionable material” of any kind. They were link farms and spam sites – the kind of thing that occasionally pops up if you visit a dodgy website or inadvertently click on a link in a spam email, or else your PC gets infected.

    So here’s how I surmise this works:

    1. You’re innocently surfing one day and suddenly you click a link which would previously have brought up some annoying spam. Instead you get a message saying “Connection Refused. The NZ Government: protecting you from filth, with only your berst interests at heart”. You think “Gosh, that vile kiddie porn stuff MUST be out there” and continue what you were doing… which might be visiting Redbaiter’s blog or visiting Indymedia.

    2. The government server through which all your IP requests are now being routed takes note of the fact that you’re visiting sites which aren’t very complimentary about that nice Mr Key and that nice Mr Joyce, and add you to a watchlist.

    Far fetched? Maybe… but kiddie porn is traded privately, not put up on the web for all to see. Any sites which offer kiddie porn have demanded a credit card (or some “secure” payment, like e-gold) and have almost universally proven to be law enforcement stibgs which entrap only the most stupid (and not, I might add, the producers of any of it).

    So why pretend there are hundreds of internet sites peddling child pornography and insert a complex “filter” which slows everyone’s web browsing to a crawl?

    Oh, and what kiwipolemicist said too. the stuff exists. If you’re not ordering and paying for it or producing it, you shouldn’t be a criminal.

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  39. Chuck Bird (4,825 comments) says:

    What’s criminal about viewing kiddie porn? Who’s being harmed?

    KP, this is getting somewhat off the topic of DPF’s original post. That is should ISPs filter child porn. However, I will try my best to explain to you who is being harmed.

    I have not visited a child porn site but I understand they are not free. That being the case if no one paid money to visit these sites and often download the sick material there would fewer child victims. If having laws against viewing or downloading child porn reduces the number of child victims anywhere in the world that is a good reason for these laws.

    Do support stuff movies that might involve some innocent woman or adolescent boy being raped, tortured and finally murdered being legal?

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  40. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird, so if the child porn sites were not illegal then many would be free putting the pay sites out of business and reducing the incentives to produce the material harming children in the process?

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  41. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird:

    As I said in my post, viewing vile material does not violate the non-aggression axiom and therefore should not be a criminal offence.

    Making a snuff movie involves murder, even if the victim freely consents, and the crime is “murder” (not “making a snuff movie”).

    If having laws against viewing or downloading child porn reduces the number of child victims anywhere in the world that is a good reason for these laws.
    You can justify many violations of civil liberties with specious reasoning like that.

    As a classical libertarian I apply the non-aggression axiom to each situation, and on that basis I disagree with you.

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  42. Chuck Bird (4,825 comments) says:

    KP, I will rephrase my question although my intend should have been obvious. Do support the viewing or purchase of snuff movies such as I described involving rape and torture?

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  43. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Thank you for your clarification – the original question was non-specific.

    I don’t support, endorse, or encourage the purchase or viewing of snuff movies in any way. However, the purchase or viewing of them doesn’t violate the non-aggression axiom and therefore should not be illegal, despite being morally repugnant in the extreme.

    The non-aggression axiom is explained here:
    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/non-aggression-axiom/

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  44. Angus (536 comments) says:

    How is it that pictures or videos of children being raped and abused can ever be considered “pornography” ?

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  45. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    Chuck, since I’ve supported kiwipolemicist’s view on this I hope you don’t mind me weighing in and attempting to answer your question also.

    To take your extreme example. The snuff movie in question has already been made. The person victimised in it has already been raped and murdered.

    Are the people responsible for making it criminals? I don’t think anyone could disagree.

    Is anyone who offered them money prior to the act, and thus encouraged the rape and murder, culpable also? Again, I doubt anyone could argue that the answer isn’t “yes”.

    Is someone who buys the film after it has been made, thus encouraging the perpetrators to consider making another, also culpable? Indirectly, yes, though much like a person found guilty of being an accessory after the fact, the penalties should be scaled appropriately. Though they haven’t committed or encouraged the commital of aggression against the victim of the first film, they are indirectly encouraging agression toward an as-yet-imaginary victim of a potential second film. A greyer area, but serious enought to warrant deterrence, IMO.

    Is someone who obtains a copy for free (say, via P2P technology) and watches it out of curiosity also a criminal? The producers of the film receive no monetary encouragement. They probably don’t even know their movie has been watched by the downloader. Therefore the viewer in this instance is not contributing – either financially or through offering encouragement to the rapist / murderers – to aggression against another. Therefore they ought not to be a criminal. They are, however, a sociopath, a sick f***, and several other adjectives, none of them complimentary.

    However if they are to be arrested for merely watching harm befall another for their own entertainment, then everyone watching the TV news this evening belongs in jail – and the makers of any show with the title “Funniest Home Videos” ought to be given the electric chair.

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  46. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    Thank you Rex, that’s well put.

    Footnote #2 from my post says

    some say that viewers of child porn are harming children because they are creating a demand for the pictures and encouraging people to make them. Balderdash: no one is compelling anyone to make child porn, therefore those who do make child porn are doing so as a matter of choice and are entirely responsible for the harm done to the children.

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  47. Chuck Bird (4,825 comments) says:

    Thanks Rex. I basically agree. Many people watched the beheading of the journalist, Daniel Pearl I think his name was. No one would say they should have been charged. I might add that I did not watch it.

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  48. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    Indeed, “objectionable material” and kiddy porn seem to be interchangeable in some minds. Frankly, some of the things that the OIA find objectionable is just crazy. Ok, it’s not stuff you’d put on your grandmother’s birthday card but I think the public would be surprised by how much stuff is “banned” given that we live in a free speech society. Don’t get me wrong a lot of it doesn’t have any great artistic merit imho and I doubt anyone’s life is overly enhanced if they see it but neither does it cause instant perverts. To be clear I am not talking about kiddy porn or even dipictions of kiddy porn. In fact I have seen many images deemed objectionable that I found a whole lot less offensive than the bloody Mary South Park episode (which C4 had every right to screen).

    Perhaps I am cynical but I do wonder if the govt agencies like to get their stats up by pushing objectionable material prosecutions. After all whether it is a dodgy cartoon or serious kiddy porn every conviction is going to look the latter when it’s published.

    I would have thought banning websites is a pretty big step to take in a democracy. I wonder a. how effective it would be (given many of the serious kiddy porn enthusiasts trade) and b. who regulates the banners? I don’t think anyone in their right mind will die in a ditch protecting a kiddy porn website showing sexual acts with children but where is the line drawn thereafter?

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  49. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    Oops, OIA was meant to be DIA which was wrong – censor classifies. DIA prosecutes.

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  50. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    Agree with F E Smith. To be clear have no problem with kiddy porn being illegal. It should be. Without demand there would be no need for supply. And frankly it is just sick shit (that’s the base argument of F E Smith’s law and morality point)

    My point is where is the line drawn as to what is objectionable after the obviously objectionable stuff?

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  51. adc (588 comments) says:

    If no one would ever look at kiddie porn would anyone ever make it?

    You can argue that demand does not drive supply, but you’d be wrong. It clearly does.

    Making proceeds from a crime is already illegal. Performing a crime so the video of the crime can be monetized is making proceeds from the crime, so selling the video is illegal. Purchasing it is being an accessory to that crime.

    However, this filtering won’t do anything to help the problem. The people who trade in this material

    a) don’t download it off the web
    b) don’t surf the web without anonymisers

    It’s basically impossible to stumble on this stuff. You have to go looking very hard for it in the right places. Not that I ever did, but I’ve spent a great deal of time (for my job) over the last 14 years surfing, and testing filtering software requires testing it against dodgy sites. And I’ve never seen any imagery of child abuse.

    So slapping a filter on the public will have a nil result, except to

    a) possibly block some legit sites
    b) slow down a bunch of sites (not all, since only the IPs of the filtered sites are published with BGP).
    c) cost a bunch of money
    d) be seen to be doing something
    e) set up infrastructure to start blocking other things

    All to satisfy some technically-challenged do-goody jump-up-and-down raving meddling lobbyers.

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  52. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    adc asks:

    If no one would ever look at kiddie porn would anyone ever make it?

    You can argue that demand does not drive supply, but you’d be wrong. It clearly does.

    That may hold true for the small proportion of “commercial” child pronography, mainly being driven out of eastern European countries. But if you review the vast majority of successful convictions of child pornographers over the years you’ll find that the charges have been an adjunct to charges of actually committing the acts.

    That is to say, a particular subset of child abusers derive additional gratification from filming their acts. They then release that material onto the internet, usually not for monetary profit. To a degree you’re correct – if they could be certain no one would watch it, they probably wouldn’t make it (though many still would, to view repeatedly for their private gratification).

    But even if we shut down the internet and destroyed all video cameras tomorrow, the abuse itself would still continue. In fact one could argue that since so many abusers are tracked down because they have filmed their actions and distributed that film online, the existence of child pornography, perversely, assists in the apprehension of offenders.

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  53. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson, the ‘war on drugs’ was not created by the legal system of the USA. It was created and sustained by Politicians and government departments. The legal system is entirely reactionary because we must adhere to laws put in place by politicians. If you want to blame the legal system then you must allow it to return to being true ‘common law’, with the judiciary being able to declare what the law is, rather than simply being restricted to implementing Parliaments rules. Indeed, much of the freedom we have comes about as a result of the common law as politicians hate to give up control of the lives of their constituency.

    KP:”To put it another way, by acknowledging that my argument is correct in some circumstances you are acknowledging that is correct in all circumstances, but you are choosing to ignore it in this circumstance :)”

    Absolutely, and I have no problems with being inconsistent when it comes to the protection of children from sexual molestation. While I admit to having mild to middling libertarian beliefs, I am not and never will be a pure idealogue. I support the idea of the least possible government involvement in our daily lives, but I am aware of the need for some regulation. I just think it should be as little as possible, carefully monitored and subject to challenge by the people.

    I also agree with the point GPT1 makes. We need to distinguish between child pornography in particular and objectionable material in general. They are not synonomous and never will be. There are some things that are currently classified as objectionable that shouldn’t be, no doubt about it. But there are somethings that are just so harmful that we should not allow them. Child pornography is one of those things.

    Edit: just to be clear, though, I would not support a filter at all. I think that the Australian situation, as referred to by Rex, is wrong and NZ should not go near the idea.

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  54. bharmer (686 comments) says:

    kiwipolemicist (359) Vote: Add rating 1 Subtract rating 4 Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    “As I said in my post, viewing vile material does not violate the non-aggression axiom and therefore should not be a criminal offence.”

    Is that the same as saying that buying ivory is OK as long as I don’t shoot the elephant myself?

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  55. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    F E Smith, how and when did the legal system lose its right to define and defend common law? I agree the War on Drugs was not created by the legal system, it is merely implemented by it.

    I reiterate, the War on Child Porn will be as gross and costly a failure for exactly the same reasons.

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  56. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    Alan, the judiciary really lost the right to expand on the common law when Parliament decided that we needed a law for everything and that it should be the place for passing those laws. I can’t tell really when that started as it was pretty gradual, although I think it we really saw it take off in New Zealand in the 1980s with Lange’s government. Part of it is both caused by, and results in, the increasing power of the civil service and the inordinate amount of ‘capture’ that grouping has of our politicians. I think another part of the issue is that the courts were seen as too slow to react and that Parliament would be better suited to put through legislation as society changed. Now the courts are only too hesitant to develop common law because Parliament now sees that as a usurpation of that role. Witness the furore over Sian Elias’ comments.

    I am actually a fan of the common law and the way it still has some (although reducing) sway in the United Kingdom. Sadly, we are fast becoming a nation of codes, laws that state what the law is to the exclusion of all that went before. It removes centuries of carefully considered law with often hastily constructed, kneejerk populism. Sort of a legislative version of Simon Power.

    I don’t think that the legal system was the place of implementation of the war on drugs either. Really, the legal system was the end point of it, with the prosecution of those arrested by the various government agencies involved. In fact, I would be alarmed if the courts were used to implement such policies, as the courts are not supposed to be crime control organisations. Courts are supposed to be completely neutral, with the prosecuting bodies being the crime control agencies.

    I hope that any war on child pornography is more successful than the war on drugs. I think that part of the reason that the war on drugs failed was due to increased middle class acceptence of drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy at club and parties. If child pornography begins to win acceptance from society then I think we will all lose for it being that way. I worry that, if we give in on the fight to stamp out production and distribution of child pornography now, then in the same way that many now argue for the legalisation of what are really harmful and currently illicit drugs, at some point in the future we might see an argument around the legalisation of paedophilia under the guise of ‘child liberation’. Maybe I am taking to much of a pessimistic view, but I can’t help but wonder.

    Edit: bharmer: good point. But that is where I happily differentiate my views. I have no issue with the buying and selling of ivory products of yesteryear, but I am very much against it being a continuing trade. But I do not support the possession of old child porn on principle.

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  57. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    F E Smith, I agree entirely with your first two paragraphs but not the third. The legal system is an integral player in the ongoing disaster – it is the revolving door of futility whose only function is to damage all participants.

    The reasons the war on child pornography will fail, just as the war on drugs has, are that the legal sanctions will increase the profit for suppliers, give criminals exclusive possession of the market, fail to deal with the human causes of demand, fail to distinguish harmless from harmful instances and create a large industry supposedly dealing with the problem who actually have a vested interest in perpetuating and maximizing the (perceived) problems.

    We see all these factors at play already.

    I see a clear distinction between moral and ethical discouragement of bad behaviour vis a vis using the law as the primary weapon against it.

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  58. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    Alan, I think that you are saying that the sanctions that are currently imposed are either insufficient or incorrect (please correct me if I got that wrong). Don’t forget that the sanctions the courts can impose on those convicted are set by Parliament, not the Courts. If you want a set of sanctions that you think will work then they need to be implemented via legislation, which requires the politicians to agree. The Courts are restrained by those sanctions set out in the Sentencing Act and can’t really improvise.

    I am not sure I see the point of your second paragraph. Are you suggesting that because child porn is illegal then there will be a market for it controlled by those willing to engage in crime? That is true, of course, but applies to anything illegal. Is it then your argument that we should get around this by legalising it and having the government control it? That is where I don’t see the end point of your argument. Perhaps you could explain a bit further?

    Your third paragraph is correct, but does that moral opprobrium actually have any effect on those who are willing to break the law anyway?

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  59. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    F E Smith, you are of course adopting the “I am just following orders” Nuremberg defence. True but indefensible?

    Yes. Harming children is already illegal as is having sex with them. That is where the legal focus should be.

    Addiction to child porn should be treated as a medical/psychological problem, not a criminal one.

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  60. F E Smith (3,324 comments) says:

    No, Alan, I don’t take that as an excuse at all. I just point out the limitations that Parliament places upon the Courts in sentencing. Parliament is not asking the Courts to do anything that would be abhorrent, it is simply not implementing a course of action that you would see them do. Very different to the Nuremberg defence.

    However, your point could be covered by the sentence of Supervision or Intensive Supervision, so it could actually be implemented. What you need to do then is get it adopted as government policy that when a person is found with child porn they are not imprisoned or otherwise sanctioned but instead are ordered to undertake psychiatric treatment. To do this, however, child porn would need to remain illegal.

    Of course, what do you do if you treat them but they re-offend?

    The thing is that most of the children depicted in child porn are abused in countries other than our own, so our laws have no effect on the perpetrators of that abuse. Maybe the government isn’t thinking out of the square on this one, but I must confess that in this instance I have no problem with that.

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  61. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    Polemicist – you can call it whatever academic wank you want, your non-aggression axiom is a fucking nonsense. Classical libertarian my arse. You are a pretentious twat. If that sounds a bit harsh, it isn’t. The “agressive and nasty text filter” stopped me writing what I actually wanted to.

    The making and/or viewing of child pornography should both be illegal and both should carry extremely heavy penalties. Preferably jail where some redneck justice can be meted out. If that makes me a redneck so be it. I will start practicing the banjo and have an extra thumb grafted on, though my sister ain’t that purty so that’s a problem.
    .
    It is our job to protect our children from harm, if I saw someone watching child pornography I would feel inclined to do them physical harm. That isn’t a threat, it is how I feel just thinking about it. My stomach turns over.

    As for the original point of the blog, no, filtering should not be allowed. No mater how well intended, sooner or later someone would not be able to resist tampering with it. A political view might be considered too extreme. Fuck can you imagine if Labour had their hands on it before the last election, the EFA would have been nothing in comparison.

    No, catch the fuckers and deal to them harshly.

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  62. wolfjung (59 comments) says:

    Complete waste of time………we are talking about a technology here that moves really fast. The recent case of an innocent forum in Switzerland where a group of sleezy pediophiles frequented is a good example. This was a site where encrypted files were exchanged, the owner got a big surprise when the authorities tapped on his door, he was completely oblivious to what was happening.

    Sick people will find means and ways to get around filtering. I doubt an innocent looking site that has 128 bit encryption on files and password access to various areas will be stopped by a big brother filter. But I would welcome any filter that stopped pictures of Helen Clark making its way onto my browser.

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  63. Huplaa (1 comment) says:

    bharmer (283) Vote: 1 1 Says:

    July 17th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    It’s fine if you download the ivory.

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  64. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    FES: “To do this, however, child porn would need to remain illegal.”

    No it wouldn’t. People can already be compelled to be detained for psychiatric treatment under the mental health act without committing any criminal offence.

    “The thing is that most of the children depicted in child porn are abused in countries other than our own, so our laws have no effect on the perpetrators of that abuse.”

    Exactly, so fix the problem in those countries instead of creating a thought crime.

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  65. Alan Wilkinson (1,866 comments) says:

    Kaya, in the USA a 17 year and eleven months old person is a child for the purposes of their Act.

    Such people have been prosecuted for sending nude photos of themselves to friends. That is the kind of nonsense the War on Child Porn produces.

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  66. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson, and therein lies the problem. We keep trying to create a perfect set of rules. There will never be such a thing. When Solomon (fictional or not) said he would cut the child in half to solve the dispute he demonstrated a true perception of justice. Our society has been taken over by regulators, bureaucrats and idiots. We need to take it back. FES is a classic example of a justice system automan. Extremely intelligent in the field but will argue that black is white if the law says it is.
    The law quite often says black is white, even when it isn’t.
    If people get prosecuted because of deficient law then the law is deficient. Fucked up but true. The legal system has hijacked common sense. Time to say fuck off.

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