According to Stuff, the NZ Department of Internal Affairs' (DIA) Internet filter is now operational and is being used by the Internet service providers (ISPs) Maxnet and Watchdog.
However the filter was bought in without much in the way of controversy because the Kiwi government hit on the clever idea of not actually telling anyone. The filter went live on February 1 but the DIA did not announce the fact publicly.
The manager of the DIA's Censorship Compliance Unit, Steve O'Brien, denied that there was subterfuge in the launch of the Internet filter. He said it was trialed for nearly two years and the plans have been shown in the display area of the DIA offices for some time.
We expect that the display area was a cellar and the plans were locked in a filing cabinet marked "beware of the leopard", but we guess it is far too late to moan about it now.
The Kiwi filter is apparently less harsh than the one planned across the Tasman Sea in Australia. The Aussie filter was recently identified by Reporters Without Borders as being on a par with something the might be seen in Saudi Arabia. The Kiwi one just lists sites that contain images of child sexual abuse.
The New Zealand system is also voluntary whereas the Australian one is not. ISPs who have signed up to use it so far have told their customers about it and there are no laws to back it up.
However there is a problem with the way the New Zealand government is going about it. TechLiberty claims the list of what is filtered is kept secret, in direct contrast to the rest of New Zealand's censorship regime where the Chief Censor must publish decisions banning offensive material