• Freedom to whISPer

last modified March 29, 2016 by strypey


Some NZ Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are censoring their customers' internet access using a secret blacklist maintained by the DIA (Ministry of Truth). This "voluntary" censorship scheme is styled the "Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System". Disintermedia absolutely condemns all forms of child abuse, including the involvement of children in sex work (including pornography and prostitution). However, we also believe that using the safety of children to justify unpopular and even anti-democratic government actions, sometimes known as the "Won't Someone Please Think of the Children" fallacy, is also an abuse of children. we know of no case in which the blocking of access to websites has prevented child pornography being made, and in every case we've heard of where child porn traffickers were caught by Police, this was achieved through focused detective work, not bottom trawling censorship.

Details on the DIA's internet censorship scheme were compiled into a FAQ by TechLiberty in 2010. There's also some useful information provided in March, 2010 by NZ National Party pollster David Farrar (note: I don't endorse the dirty politics this blogger is known to partake in, but internet censorship is one area he has taken principled positions on). Whichever ISP you are with, please email them and ask them to provide their official company statement on the scheme. Disintermedia would appreciate any new information allies can send about whether NZ ISPS are collaborating with or rejecting the Ministry of Truth's "filter".

Here is the official list of collaborators. We suggest you boycott them (be sure to email them and tell them why), and encourage others to do the same:

The following lists are derived from the research done by TechLiberty in 2010:

Please support these ISPs who have rejected the government's internet censorship scheme.

Definitely not

  • WxC/World Exchange/Xnet - "This filter is not compulsory and we have no plans to implement it."
  • Callplus/Slingshot - "We're the pipe, not a censor."
  • Natcom
  • Snap - "Snap does not support mandatory Internet censorship. However, we understand and realise that filtering can complement sand-box Internet for environments with specific requirements and we therefore will make a filtered Internet service available to our clients if the desire is there."
  • Iconz - "ICONZ are not currently signed up to the filter, nor do we have any intention of doing so in the future."
  • Unleash - "we will not be implementing this filter and we have no plan to do so in the future."

These ISPs are understood to be supporting and using the
  • 2 Degrees mobile
  • Watchdog
  • Maxnet - "Our customers would be disappointed to hear if we weren’t participating. So participation for us has always been a no-brainer."
  • TelstraClear - "We informed our customers of the trial, received positive feedback from them and its likely we will participate further."
  • Xtreme Networks - "It's a no-brainer for us, it's free."
  • Airnet
  • Telecom - "Telecom has today announced it will join the Department of Internal Affairs’ Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System. 3/11/2010"
  • Vodafone/Ihug

No plans

  • Orcon - "Let us clearly say that just because we are engaged with the DIA about filtering doesn't mean we are going to implement the system. To draw that conclusion would be erroneous."
Please encourage these ISPs to make a public statement about whether or not they are collaborating with the internet censorships scheme.


  • Woosh
  • FX
  • Compass
  • Inspire
  • Actrix

Update 13/05/2010:

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Creative Freedom Foundation, many of the nastier features of the 2003 copyright amendment have been stopped for now. However, the entertainment politburo continue to push DMCA-style surveillance and penalties through other means, such as WIPO. They tried through the ACTA treaty, which was defeated mainly due to strong resistance in Europe, and now they are trying again through the TPPA and TTIP.  We must continue to speak out in defence of net neutrality.

Original comment:

The new New Zealand government's Copyright (Parallel Importation of Films and Onus of Proof) Amendment Act (2003), apparently obliges ISPs to monitor their customers for potential intellectual property infringement, according to the industry commentators quoted in this Computerworld article.


This is an attack on Internet users' basic right to privacy of personal communication, and research, comparable to obliging librarians to monitor the borrowing habits of their members. Presumably internet cafes, or community infoshops that provide internet access could also be treated as ISPs, subject to the same obligation to spy on users. We must defend people's civil rights to go about their daily lives without constant surveillance and monitoring of their communications. Innocent until proven guilty is a key principle of liberal democracies, and if we can't defend minimum protections of individual liberty and community freedom such as these in supposedly democratic nations like New Zealand, what chance do we have of extending them into countries like China where the people are routinely spied on, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed, for disagreeing with their government.


The Freedom to whISPer campaign is intended to educate the public about the ISPs role as the librarians of the digital era, not its thought police. The campaign will oppose law that obliges ISPs to spy on users, both by criticizing existing laws, and opposing new legislation, and taking action in solidarity with ISPs or other IT outfits (whether business or community group) who find themselves targeted by these laws.