Why the filter is important?

Child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is evidence of actual criminal activity. The possession and distribution of this material creates an international market that supports and encourages further abuse. Children who are victims of this offending, abuse or exploitation suffer the psychological effects of their abuse for many years after the physical offending has ended. Every time the image, video or material is downloaded, shared, or distributed, the children involved are re-victimised.

Many people who view material of this kind will go on to physically offend against children, it is imperative that we are able to bring them to justice before they are able to do more damage.

The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System (DCEFS) is designed to assist in combating the trade of CSAM by making it more difficult for people with a sexual interest in children to access it.

About the filter

The DCEFS blocks New Zealanders’ access to known websites that contain child sexual abuse material. The filter complements the enforcement activity undertaken by the Department’s Digital Child Exploitation Team, including online investigations into the possession, distribution or creation of objectionable material and the prosecution of offenders. However, website filtering is only effective after the fact and does not prevent the creation of illegal material or the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Additionally, the DCEFS cannot be used to prosecute the creators or consumers of this material.

The DCEFS is unable to remove illegal content from its location on the Internet as these websites are often hosted in other jurisdictions; not every legal system recognises the distribution of child abuse materials as a serious crime, and few enforcement agencies around the world have the resources and training to carry out online investigations and the forensic examination of computers.