- Objectionable material
- Objectionable material
The select committee looking at the act that governs what is and isn't objectionable material has reported back to the government and overall it's a good read.
Sentences are up, fines are larger. We've drawn a line in the sand and we intend to hold it with all our might despite, as the report says, the tide of filth being an ever rising one.
This is a good thing. We need to stand up to the likes of child porn and those who peddle it.
Sadly, what the report also says is that ISPs should be held accountable for content held on their machines and that a code of practice will be forced on the ISPs if they don't come up with one themselves. Oh and by the way, the government might just demand that ISPs be licensed so we can better tell them what to do.
This is absurd. The ISPs are the good guys here. They provide the network and they help the Department of Internal Affairs and the police when called upon. Making them liable for prosecution should they not monitor every bit that passes across their networks is not only unworkable, but it will put ISPs out of business.
You only have to look across the Tasman at Australia's laws on this to see it doesn't work. The report even agrees with that - there are too few prosecutions going on in Australia and too many problems with the legislation.
Having said that, the report then says "but it's the only approach that works so we'll be following suit".
I don't know quite how far following suit will take us - system admins facing prosecution because they're tired and overworked and didn't notice some pervert looking at something online? It's entirely possible.
Also somewhat alarming is the report's comments on what the DIA is already doing to stop objectionable material. Apparently it's provided software to two ISPs that will automatically alert the DIA and the ISP to objectionable material.
Come on, who are we kidding here? What does it do - check out the number of pink coloured pixels in a picture? Look for the word "objectionable" in the text?
You only have to use a software filter for 10 minutes to realise it's not foolproof. There are so many ways around such things that it makes a mockery of any attempt to use them in a legal setting, yet that's exactly what this report sets out to do.
Hopefully it's not too late. Presumably now this report is out in the open we can all talk about it and make some more submissions to the government before it becomes the basis for a new law. Ring your MP, contact the chair of the committee (Dianne Yates) and demand to speak with some of the ministers involved.
If you want an example of how well filtering software works, have a look at Russell Brown's blog, Public Address, entitled "Barbarians at the email gateway".