Independent Reference Group Meeting Minutes December 2013

Meeting held at 46 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington

11am, 4 December 2013

Independent Reference Group Attendees:

Nic McCully; Mark Harris; David Stone; Conor Roberts, Steve O’Brien


Justine Cornwall

Department officials:

Mike Osmond; Caroline Sullivan; Maarten Quivooy

1. Filter System Update

Officials presented the IRG Briefing Document for December 2013. There were 38 million “hits”. The increase was lower than expected. It was again reiterated that the ‘hits’ total in no way reflects the number of user attempts. The Network Flow diagram compares filtered requests for the month ending 30 November 2013. The horizontal axis raised some questions from the reference group because it isn’t clear what it is showing. The Department clarified that it shows the ISP.

There were 17 appeals since the last report, which is a decrease of 29 when compared with the same time period last year. All the appeals were considered and were refused following assessment as each of the sites contained child abuse material.

2. System Maintenance

The system upgrade is underway with clients scheduled to be moved over at the begin February 2014 in a staged rollout.

3. System Health

The system is continuing to use about 1% of resources devoted to the filter system and processing. The reference group asked if the Department had considered downsizing thecapacity as part of the system upgrade. The Department’s view is that the capacity is important. The Department is considering further ISPs joining the Filtering system in the New Year.

4. Filter Statistics

585 sites are filtered and two entries have been removed. A new list will be available in the new year. Approximately 20 sites contain child sexual abuse drawings.

It was put to the reference group to consider the use of another point of access to information on the filter through the url “” this will run in parallel to the current data available via the website however, would be designed to provide more interaction with the New Zealand public and allow for a more dynamic platform for displaying statistics and other information relevant to the system.

5. Possible review of the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System

Officials provided a synopsis of the review paper provided to the reference group. The paper provides points to consider including whether it is the right time for a review and the scope (including process effectiveness and best practice or governance).

Whilst the decision on the occurrence of a review will lie with the Department the reference group discussed whether a review was required and what form it would take. The reference group asked if the Department is already in a position to answer some of the questions being raised through the discussion. There may be some information already available but there is a question of how information would be collected. One idea from the reference group is to use the landing page of the filter to gather some statistics.

Following the discussion the Department identified three pieces of work that would aid the reference group in developing a collective view on whether a review is appropriate at this time.

The work the Department will undertake are:

  • Work on providing more refined data rather than ‘hits’;
  • Collate a literature review on existing research/information on child sexual abuse internet filtering systems; and
  • Contact subject matter experts in the field to get their perspective on whether the filter is useful.

The reference group agreed to meet in March 2014 and asked that any reading material in relation to the pieces of work identified is sent to them as it is completed rather than just before the meeting.

Meeting concluded at 12:25pm.

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