by Divina Paredes

NZ ISPs block websites with footage of Christchurch shooting

Mar 17, 2019
CEO CIO Digital Transformation

The New Zealand telecommunications industry is working together to ensure that any website with footage of the Christchurch terrorist attack is inaccessible to New Zealanders.

The country’s main internet service providers (ISP), Spark, Vodafone, Vocus and 2degrees, are blocking any website which has footage of the Friday 15 March Christchurch mosque shootings.

“This is an unprecedented move by the telecommunications industry, but one that they all agree is necessary,” says Geoff Thorn, New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) chief executive.

“The industry is working together to ensure this harmful content can’t be viewed by New Zealanders,” says Thorn.

“The gunman clearly wanted his actions to be seen, but we do not believe that this is desirable and are doing what we can to prevent this from happening as much as possible.”

The ISPs are sharing their knowledge with each other, and across the industry, to ensure each can block sites as soon as they are found to contain the video footage.

A number of websites have so far been blacklisted, with requests made for the website to remove the footage.

“There is the risk that some sites that have legitimate content could have been mistakenly blacklisted, but this will be rectified as soon as possible,” says Thorn.

“The industry has a history of cooperating and putting competitive behaviour to one side for the benefit of New Zealanders, of which this is another good example.”

Earlier, the Department of Internal Affairs advised that people who share the video of the shooting in Christchurch are likely to be committing an offence.

A DIA spokesperson says that the video is likely to be objectionable content under New Zealand law.

“The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see. This is a very real tragedy with real victims and we strongly encourage people to not share or view the video.

“We are working with social media platforms, who are actively removing this content as soon as they are made aware of an instance of it being posted,” DIA says in a statement.

“If you see this video or any objectionable material online, you can help take it down by reporting the incident to the online platform it is hosted by. All social media platforms have a complaints function you can follow.

“We are aware that people may have unsuspectingly viewed the video on social media platforms thinking it is a media article, so please be vigilant of images that yourself and those around you are viewing, particularly our young people.”