Saturday, July 13, 2024

New filter to better guard against digital child exploitation

The Department of Internal Affairs has announced a significant upgrade to its Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Brooke van Velden said the Department will incorporate up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual abuse material provided by the Internet Watch Foundation, a UK-based not-for-profit organisation, into its existing filter.

This will increase the number of blocked URLs from around 700 to up to 30,000 on any given day, she said. The IWF filter is updated daily using both human analysis and artificial intelligence to identify webpages confirmed to host this illegal material.

“This is a major step in preventing children from being retraumatised by having records of their abuse shared online, as well as preventing New Zealanders from viewing this material – including unintentional access by children.”

The Department is currently implementing the filter and expects to have it fully incorporated this year.

The Digital Child Exploitation Filter is currently fully operational in New Zealand as well as Samoa and Tonga and work is underway to extend it to the Cook Islands.

The filter blocks criminal content which is confirmed to contain children. Other adult content which is legal in New Zealand will not be blocked.

“This criminal material has no place in New Zealand. It is abhorrent. I am pleased that the Department is taking steps to upgrade the filtering system to prevent more children from being harmed,” says Ms van Velden.

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