A bill introduced in parliament this week by the Government aims to tackle extremist content. The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill introduces new criminal offences and hands power to a chief censor who can make immediate decisions on blocking offensive content.

More controversially the bill allows the Government to create and deploy internet filters.

Much of the bill is similar to the proposal first tabled in Cabinet last December by Tracey Martin. Martin is the Internal Affairs Minister. The bill aims to update the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 in light of the live-streaming of last year’s terror attack in Christchurch.

The bill applies to the people or organisations that film and livestream the objectionable content. It does not seek to punish hosts or carriers who provide the infrastructure used to distribute the content.

Yet carriers and hosts will need to acknowledge government imposed take-down notices. This includes removing links to objectionable content. Failure to do so could result in civil action and fines.

One controversial proposal is that the legislation will allow the Department of Internal Affairs to create internet filters. The DIA must consult with internet service providers before launching a filter.

InternetNZ is opposing the filter plan. In a media statement CEO Jordan Carter says there can be dangerous side effects from a filter.

He also says: "The proposed filters would work at the network level, in a way that is a mile wide and a millimetre deep.

“People who want to get around these filters can easily do so by using a VPN, technology that many Kiwis have been using when working from home recently.”