Kiwi Polemicist

July 17, 2009

• Internet censorship has arrived in NZ

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

This is serious shit. I normally avoid profanity, but I cannot think of another phrase that adequately and succinctly describes this situation.

First we’ll have a look at the situation then we’ll get to my views on it, which may melt your socks. My sources are the NZ Herald articles that can be found here and here.

The situation is thus:1984-was-not-supposed-to-be-an-instruction-manual

The department [of Internal Affairs] 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.

This is optional for ISPs (so far), but virtually all of them have taken the software and the list of banned sites is secret. In effect, every time a person in New Zealand wishes to visit a website their request for access to that website will go through a government computer, and that computer will only allow you to view a website if it’s not on the government’s list of banned sites. To put it another way, every time a person in New Zealand wants to visit a website they have to go through a government checkpoint, and government staff will say “Yes, you may visit that website” or “No you may not visit that website”. Do you have any idea of the implications of this? Here are three of them:

*****1-> The state now stands between New Zealanders and the internet, which is where you’ll find free speech and anti-state opinions that have been stifled elsewhere. The state wishes to control public opinion and the internet makes that agenda difficult, unless the state can control what people view on the internet. That’s why China puts so much effort into internet censorship, and internet access is virtually unknown in North Korea. Making international phone calls is extremely difficult or impossible there, so the country is basically a closed room where the state controls the content of books, newspapers etc.: internet censorship in NZ is the thin end of the wedge and North Korea’s measures are the thick end of the wedge.

*****2-> The state can keep a record of who visits what website, when they do it, what pages of the website they view, what links they click on, and what they download. In the UK ISPs (an ISP is the company you pay for internet access) already keep this information – and more – for two years at the request of the government, and the government wants to put the information into its own database.

*****3-> The state has the ability to block access to any website that it thinks is undesirable. The Department of Internal Affairs’ Censorship Compliance Unit web page says

One of our roles is to make sure that New Zealand’s censorship legislation is enforced, and so help protect people from material that is injurious to the public good.

For now the government is blocking access to child pornography: how long before it decides that other websites are “injurious to the public good” and won’t let us view them? Will the list of banned sites still be be secret then?

The concept of “public good” is a Socialist/Marxist one and very vague – basically the definition of public good is whatever the current ruler of the country deems it to be. States use “public good” to justify their actions: “It’s in the public good to outlaw hate speech free speech which offends some people and [supposedly] threatens public order, so let’s do that”.

The doctrine of “public good” implies that our society is a collective and that each person should seek or allow that which benefits the collective. What garbage: a society is a collection of individuals who seek that which benefits themselves, and when they’re allowed to do so without government interference everyone benefits.

This might melt your socks

I have never viewed kiddie porn and it’s hard to think of anything that might be more disgusting. I have a personal moral code that considers all forms of pornography to be immoral and sexual acts with children (paedophilia, which I understand is shown in some porn) to be an extremely serious crime. But I will not attempt to impose my morality upon others and I believe that viewing child porn should be perfectly legal. Why so?

I believe that viewing child porn should be legal because it does not violate the non-aggression axiom, which says

It is illicit to initiate or threaten invasive violence against a man or his legitimately owned property.

Simply viewing dirty pictures does not violate the personal rights of those children (i.e. it does not initiate invasive violence against them). To put it another way, simply viewing the pictures does not harm the children. However, making the pictures/videos does violate the personal rights of children¹ and therefore I believe that that should be illegal.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I believe that viewing child porn is despicable, but it does not harm children and therefore should be legal². I believe that making child porn is despicable³, but it also harms children and therefore it should be illegal.

I don’t know about you, but I never asked the state to be the Personal Morals Police. The state has no right to make illegal those actions which it considers to be immoral but do not violate the non-aggression axiom.

What do you think about state censorship/control of the internet and the points I have raised here?

What can you add to my list of three implications of state censorship of the internet?

Related post:

Australian government is calling internet censorship “cyber-safety”


1. unless the child is above the age of consent and freely chooses to participate. What the age of consent is and how you determine the age of consent is is a can of worms that I am not going to open here 🙂

2. 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.

3. more despicable than viewing




  1. 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.

    Comment by Chuck Bird — July 17, 2009 @ 11:08 am

    • Chuck Bird: I agree that those who wish to view child porn are “encouraging” (in the sense of offering an economic incentive) others to commit the crime of making child porn. But that should not be a crime because it does not violated the nonaggression axiom – see footnote #2.

      I believe that the viewing and the making are two very different things, and your statement that “Following his logic snuff movies or a video or real rape and torture should be legal” does not make a differentiation.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 17, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Hi there, just wanted to correct your point that all traffic will be going through the government filter. That’s incorrect, only traffic to websites that have the same IP address as a site on the banned list will be diverted through the filter.

    Check my Technical FAQ for more details.

    Comment by Thomas Beagle — July 17, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

    • Thomas: thanks for that – the NZ Herald info was misleading (no surprise there).

      This should be good for speed, but it is still censorship by the state (the fundamental issue here) and the state can add anything it likes to the banned list.

      Quotes from your page:

      The requested website is not banned but is on the same server as another website that is banned and they share the same internet address. The request is diverted to the filter server which sees that the URL is not banned so it forwards the request to the web server. The internet address of the requesting computer is not logged.
      Requests to websites that aren’t blocked but are on the same internet addresses as blocked websites might be slower as they will have to pass through the filter server.
      The filters can be applied at three levels:

      * Internet address
      * Website
      * Parts of a website

      It is possible to filter down to the level of folders or even individual documents and images on a website. E.g. you could filter but allow on the same website.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that this would allow the state to monitor who is visiting a certain website without actually banning that website by banning a site that shares the same address or by banning an obscure page or image on that site.

      The ISP does not need to log any information relating to the filtering (although they could choose to).

      The DIA’s filter server logs the internet address of any computer that tries to access a blocked site. This is kept for up to 30 days and then deleted. The DIA say that the filter logs will not be used for law enforcement.

      The filter server does not log the internet address of a computer that tries to access a non-blocked site on the same internet address as a blocked one, even though this request passes through the filter server.

      Anyone who thinks that the state won’t abuse its ability to collect and misuse data deserves whatever they get. In the UK ISPs have been willing to collect data for the government and are in effect monitoring the public on behalf of Big Brother.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 18, 2009 @ 1:16 am

  3. I fail to see how you can admit that viewing can be “encouraging” and still say because it doesn’t harm directly it should be legal. Wrong, totally wrong. The nonagression axiom is a piece of philosophical shit. Anything that encourages someone to make porn is wrong. No, watching porn is wrong and therefore is a crime and therefore warrants castration. Yes I am a redneck if that makes you feel better. You are [ad hominem content deleted as per my comments policy].

    Comment by kaya — July 17, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

    • kaya: you are taking “encouraging” out of context. I said that it was encouragement in the sense of providing an economic incentive.

      Demand for cars encourages people to make cars by providing an economic incentive (an opportunity to make money), but no one blames car owners when a car manufacturer mistreats an employee.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 18, 2009 @ 12:52 am

  4. thanks for great posting 😉

    Comment by children software — July 21, 2009 @ 12:31 am

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