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Government Internet Censorship Begins In Stealth In New Zealand

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Steve Watson, Infowars.net
March 12, 2010

Infowars, Prisonplanet websites were mysteriously blocked at the same time as government filter was switched on

The government of New Zealand has quietly implemented an internet filter and is urging the leading ISPs in the country to adopt the measure, in a move that would give the authorities the power to restrict whichever websites they see fit.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reportedly turned on the internet filter on February 1st without making any announcement, prompting critics to charge that the measure had been activated in stealth.

“It’s a sad day for the New Zealand internet” a spokesperson for online freedom lobby Tech Liberty told the leading New Zealand tech website Computerworld.

“It establishes the principle that the government can choose to arbitrarily set up a new censorship scheme and choose which material to block, with no reference to existing law,” the group states.

The filter is already being used by leading internet providers Maxnet and Watchdog, with the government refusing to comment on which other providers are set to take up the technology similar to that used by the Communist Chinese government and the ruling regime in Iran.

Tech Liberty says that it has received inside information that other companies including Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone plan to implement the filter. Other companies including Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom have reportedly said they will not implement the filter, however, Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett has said it is not accurate to say that Orcon will not be taking part.

A New Zealand government spokesman commented “We anticipate all major ISPs will embrace this development as they have the many other filters they employ on the internet for a range of purposes.”

Around the same time the government’s Internet filter went live, Infowars began receiving notification from readers in New Zealand that their access to Alex Jones’ flagship websites Infowars.com and Prisonplanet.com had been suddenly blocked.

The websites were blocked at the ISP level by all companies using Asia Netcom for their international internet traffic. These companies included Woosh, Telecom, Slingshot and Orcon.

Orcon announced that the loss of access was due to a “technical issue”, yet the block was only removed after five days, following a raft of complaints.

Tech Liberty says that filtered material is being kept secret by the New Zealand government, a policy that contravenes established rules on censorship where the Chief Censor is required to publish decisions banning “offensive” material.

There is therefore no way of knowing whether Alex Jones’ websites were blocked as part of the government’s actions, however the timing of the so called “technical issue” seems an extraordinary coincidence.

The secrecy surrounding the restrictions mirrors government policy in neighbouring Australia where a similar, yet mandatory and wide-ranging, internet filter is being implemented.

Earlier this year, the Wikileaks website published a leaked secret list of sites slated to be blocked by Australia’s state-sponsored parental filter.

The list revealed that blacklisted sites included “online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.”

The filter will even block web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over the age of fifteen, according to the Australian government.

Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy has said the government would be the final arbiter on what sites would be blacklisted under “refused classification.”

Similar internet filtering is being developed for use in the UK and the U.S. — we have covered in depth moves to regulate the internet in both countries.

The official justification for the filters is to block child pornography, however, as the watchdog group Electronic Frontiers Australia has pointed out, the law will also allow the government to block any website it desires while the pornographers can relatively easily skirt around the filters.

The ominous spectacle of major free speech websites going dark in supposedly democratic countries is a shocking portend of what the establishment wants to impose on a widespread basis. Only by screaming bloody murder in defense of the last true outpost of free speech — the Internet — and threatening boycotts and aggressive public relations campaigns can we counter the insidious move to silence the only remaining open forum of lawful dissent.

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16 Responses to “Government Internet Censorship Begins In Stealth In New Zealand”

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