Public Information Pack

Information about how the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System (DCEFS) works, what it does not do and what information is kept.

Download a PDF version: Public Information Pack (PDF, 139K)*


The expansion of the Internet has led to many positive developments. However, the fact remains that criminals, individuals as well as organised groups, are also using this technology as a means of producing, collecting and distributing images of child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse images are not “just images” but evidence of actual criminal activity.

The possession and distribution of this material creates an international market that supports and encourages further abuse. The children who are victims of this activity sometimes suffer the psychological effects of their abuse for many years after the physical offending has ended. Images that are distributed on the Internet never go away.

With each download the person involved is re‐victimised.

The system

The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System is designed to assist in combating the trade in child sexual abuse images by making it more difficult for persons with a sexual interest in children to access that material. The filtering system complements the enforcement activity undertaken by the Digital Child Exploitation Team of the Department of Internal Affairs.

How does it work

Using a secure link the system advertises to an Internet Service provider routing information that relates to alist created by the department of known websites that host child sexual abuse material. When someone attempts to access a website that matches this routing information that request is sent to the DCEFS forexamination.

If the request is for a known website meaning it is currently within the list, the system will present a landingpage informing the user, the request has been stopped. If the request does not match an item on the list the user is presented with the requested page.

Circles connected with arrows go from 'User opens web browser' to 'User requests a website by typing in a URL' to 'Request matches routing information advertised by the DCEFS' to 'Request received by system via the provider'. A feedback arrow goes back from this circle to 'Request matches routing information advertised by the DCEFS' with the note: routing information advertisement. The circle 'Request received by system via the provider' has arrows going in two directions from it, the first to a circle marked 'Request matches list. Landing page presented', the second to a circle labelled 'Request does not match items on the list, requested page is displayed'.

False positives

Whilst the Department of Internal Affairs have taken as many steps as possible to ensure the system will not prevent access to a legitimate website we have created an appeal process to enable someone to inform the department that the site they were attempting to access has been blocked in error.

Circles connected with arrows go from 'User is presented with landing page' to 'User completes appeal form' to 'Appeal Notification sent to the Department of Internal Affairs' to 'Appeal is reviewed by the Department' to 'Decision made to continue blocking or remove site from list'.

No user identifiable information is kept relating to an appeal, all data is anonymised.

What the system does not do

Website filtering is only partially effective in combating the trade in child sexual abuse images, due to the nature of the distribution of child abuse material. The method used by the DCEFS focuses only on web contentand further narrows this to only general web content being HTTP not HTTPS.

The DCEFS does not examine on any other content be it Peer to Peer (P2P), email, ftp or news groups.

Additionally the DCEFS is not an enforcement tool; no user who is presented with the landing page will or could be prosecuted.

What information is kept

The system stores standard logging information for a period of 30 days to assist in any troubleshooting of network or system issues and to assist the Internet Service Providers with resolving any issues that may be affecting a users experience on the internet.

The data kept relates only to information about the service provider no user identifiable information is kept or recorded. Following the period of 30 days all records relating to the filter are destroyed.

Who is responsible for the maintaining the list

The system is maintained and operated by the Digital Child Exploitation Team. The list is actively maintained and reviewed by 3 inspectors, whose task is to review websites for possible inclusion in the list and review any appeals received by the Department. The review process follows an established procedure and requires the inspectors to agree that site should be included in the list.

 Circles connected with arrows go from 'Indpector begins review' to 'Website visited and examined' to 'Inspector determines that website meets criteria for list inclusion' to 'Website submitted for peer review' to 'Decision made to include or not include in list'

Each site that is included within the list is accompanied by a report detailing what the inspector saw at the time he/she reviewed the site.

What is the criterion for a site to be included in the list

The status of a publication is defined in the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993. The DCEFS criterion relates to section 3(2)(a) which states, a publication shall be deemed to be objectionable if the publication promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support the exploitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes.

What can I do to help

We have established in conjunction with ECPAT NZ a website hotline where members of the public can report websites they believe contain child sexual abuse material. The hotline known as ChildAlert can be found here All data is sent to ECPAT who then review the report and transmit the URL to the Digital Child Exploitation Team for further review. No user identifiable information is passed to the Digital Child Exploitation Team. ECPAT have created a web browser plug‐in that can assist in reporting the sites.

ECPAT have created a web browser plug‐in that can assist in reporting the sites.