So inaccurate, probably worth a press council complaint

Stuff reports:

Millions of Kiwis are bombarding blacklisted child-sex-abuse sites to request access to illegal videos and photos.

That is total crap. The story would have you think somewhere between 25% and 100% of Kiwis are trying to access child pornography websites. It is alarmist crap which is trying to induce moral panic.

The Department of Internal Affairs has already blocked 34 million attempts within New Zealand to access at least one of 582 child sex abuse sites blocked by government filters since 2010.

There are two important things to note here. The first is that the 34 million attempts tells us nothing about how many people are making those attempts. There is absolutely no basis in fact for the claim in the opening sentence.

The second thing is that the 34 million number is not the number of unique attempts, but can be one page generates 100 or more “attempts”. It’s like the difference between “hits” and “visits”.

Although many of these attempts are generated by pop-ups, malicious software and a small group of heavy users, the sheer number was described by one cyber security expert as “mind-boggling”.

The opening line would have you think millions of Kiwis are into child pornography. In fact a lot of it is malware.

However, while the stream of blocked requests was huge, the actual number of people consuming child sex abuse material in New Zealand was small and most of them were being caught, he said.

DIA do a very good job of catching those who sell, buy and trade child abuse images. It’s a yucky job they do, and they deserve our thanks. They have made it clear that the actual number of people access child sex amuse material is small so how did the story end up with a misleading headline and opening sentence? It may have been a sub-editor?

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