A report out of the UK is not even slightly surprising. After mentioning that people sharing images of child sexual abuse are using Peer to Peer (P2P) networks, it goes on to say:
Offenders are also increasingly turning to free encryption software in an attempt to evade detection, [the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre] CEOP said, meaning reports take longer to process and analyse.
The strategy document said: “It has long been recognised that child sexual offenders practise deception, disguising and masking their activities to achieve their aims.
How people share illegal stuff online
Well, of course they practise deception etc. I have no interest in using or passing around illegal or undesirable materials, but if I did I can easily think of half a dozen ways that don’t involve regular websites. And I’m not even very clued up about such things.
New Zealand web filtering
Which is why it makes little sense for New Zealand to introduce so-called web filtering. It’s going to cost heaps and probably achieve very little.
What it does is set up a manually maintained list of websites containing images of child sexual abuse and prevent Kiwis from visiting them if their ISP joins the voluntary scheme.
The Department of Internal Affairs has budgeted an additional $617,000 for Censorship Enforcement Activities for the 2009/2010 financial year. This includes $150,000 for the internet filtering software.
The Internet connection used by the filtering system costs $2000/month.
Three people will be employed maintaining the system (although they might have other duties too).
Other costs include include the computer hardware, the time used to implement the scheme, and the work and costs incurred by the ISPs.
I think that’s rather like setting up Police checks for everyone walking down the main street in town to see if they’re carrying illegal drugs. Meanwhile the traffickers, dealers and users are plying their trade in the shady part of town.
Let’s do something real
I was very disturbed the other day when I heard part of a 10 minute interview on Nine to Noon:
Feature guest – Undercover cop
Robert Earle, not his real name, has witnessed the very worst in human behaviour. He went undercover to help track down criminals involved in child prostitution and pornography, sexual slavery, human trafficking and sex tourism. (duration: 27′02″)
Note: I don’t know how long the audio files will remain available, but you can download from the page I’ve linked to.
The reason I was disturbed was that Robert Earle (and perhaps others) are doing real work that actually rescues children and others, and puts the traders in human beings into the justice system.
He risks his life and children are removed from prostitution and sexual exploitation. He does real work that makes an actual difference.
As a taxpayer I would far rather New Zealand add its $600,000 to the work of Robert Earle and his colleagues than throw it away on probably not preventing people from viewing images of sexual abuse.
Earle is addressing the problem at source. Internet filtering, if it even achieves anything, is simply hand-waving. Expensive hand-waving.