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One New Zealand blocks child abuse material

One New Zealand moves to block child abuse material at network level, prioritising telecoms in a disaster, Connexa completes 2degrees deal.
One New Zealand blocks child abuse material.
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

One New Zealand is now blocking child sexual exploitation and abuse material at the network level. It says the move will prevent active or inadvertent access to any known child abuse material.

The telco is the first operator to sign up to Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs’ 11 voluntary principles to counter the offensive material.

Te Tari Taiwhenua developed its 11 principles after a 2020 agreement between New Zealand, Australian, UK, US and Canadian governments working with major technology companies.

Te Tari Taiwhenua voluntary principles

One says: “The 11 voluntary principles provide a common and consistent framework for businesses in the digital industry to better combat the proliferation of online child exploitation, including targeting online grooming and preparatory behaviour, targeting live-streaming, preventing searches from surfacing child sexual abuse material, adopting a specialised approach for children, considering victim-led mechanisms and collaborating and responding to evolving threats.”

One NZ CEO Jason Paris says: “By blocking access to CSAM material at a network level and by signing up to the Department of Internal Affairs 11 voluntary principles, we will ensure customers will be safer".

One New Zealand has engaged with stakeholders as it seeks to increase the safety of its network including Makes Sense, which is campaigning to create a safer digital landscape for children and young people.

Comment: Telecoms should be centre stage in disaster response

Telecommunications not treated as major priority during Cyclone Gabrielle” by Phil Pennington at RNZ looks at the Telecommunications Forum’s report into the disaster response.

He writes:

Critical equipment for fixing telecommunications was unloaded from aircraft and replaced with other gear, on flights into regions cut off by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Pennington quotes the TCF report which says the official disaster response did not consider telecommunications to be a priority and the people coordinating the response did not understand its importance.

TCF CEO Paul Brislen expressed similar ideas using different language in Communications restored but not back to normal at the NZ Herald.

Read both stories and you’ll get the impression the telecommunications industry did a great recovery job despite a lack of support or even, at times, interest from the official government response.

Time to change ideas

This is an attitude that must change. The industry knows and understands that our previous ideas of resilience have changed. We’re going to need more connections, more fall back options and more recovery resources in more locations.

Meanwhile, the government needs to update its ideas and priorities. Telecommunications is vital in a disaster. If nothing else, it gives responders much better insight into conditions on the ground.

With good communications they’ll get a faster clearer picture of what resources are needed and where there is the greatest need. Families can know who is safe, who might need help.

Businesses and services have become dependent on telecommunications. Our society borders on being cashless, without comms people can’t use their cards to buy essential items.

New Zealand needs to rewrite its disaster planning to make communications a priority.

Connexa takes control of 2degrees mobile towers

2degrees says Connexa has completed its acquisition of the telco’s mobile tower network.

The deal was completed after getting the necessary regulatory sign off from the Commerce Commission and the Overseas Investment Office.

Connexa was spun out of Spark last year when that telco sold a 70 per cent stake in its tower network to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Spark didn’t contribute funds to the 2degrees tower acquisition, instead it reduced its shareholding in the tower company to around 17 per cent.

2degrees launches Hyperfibre… again

2degrees customers can now order Hyperfibre plans. Prices are $139 a month for a 2 Gbps connection and $169 for 4 Gbps. While it is the first time 2degrees has offered Hyperfibre under its own brand, the company’s Orcon brand, which it picked up in the merger with Vocus New Zealand , began selling Hyperfibre in 2020 and 8 Gbps Hyperfibre in 2012.

New Zealand online criminal proceeds far outstrip inflation

Cert NZ’s report for the first quarter of 2023 shows an increased number of reported crimes along with a substantial rise in criminal proceeds.

The government’s cyber security advisory and response organisation says reports were up 12 per cent in the quarter. The criminal take, or as Cert prefers, the financial losses due to cybercrime, was up 66 per cent.

Cert says there was a significant increase in what it describes as ‘scams’. This includes investment scams and romance scams. They were up 23 per cent on the previous quarter.

There are two standout trends to watch for. Criminals are placing ads in search engines to trap victims. It would be good if Google could shoulder part of the responsibility here by vetting advertisers. Criminals are also now producing professional looking, make that ‘convincing’, documentation.

IoT spending on track for a trillion by 2026

IDC says the world will spend over US$800 billion on the Internet of Things this year. That’s up 10 per cent on last year. The research company says spending is growing at a compound rate of 10.4 per cent and will pass the $1 trillion mark in 2026.

Discrete and Process Manufacturing will account for more than a third of the spending. Professional Services, Utilities and Retail are the next largest industries in terms of IoT spending with roughly a quarter of the worldwide total. IDC says government is the fastest area of IoT spending growth with telecommunications in second place.

In other news…

Australia has a word with Twitter. The office of the country’s eSafety Commissioner sent an official “please explain” message asking Twitter about its content moderation practices and whether it is enforcing its own policies against hateful conduct. As The Register reports, Twitter is required by law to respond with information about how it is working to minimise harm to Australians. On the surface it appears to be doing nothing. If Twitter doesn’t respond in 28 days, it faces a fine of A$700k every day until it does.

Regional satellite operator Kacific says it worked with the Solomon Telekom Company to get the telco’s customer back online after an anchor-drag damaged the Solomon Islands domestic submarine cable.

Soon Apple users will be able to log-in to sites without a password. Starting with the next round of operating system updates iOS 17, macOS Sonoma and iPadOS 17, Apple will automatically allocate passkeys to Apple IDs. It will work with Apple sites and any sites that support “sign-in with Apple”.

Canalys reports the international cybersecurity market grew 12.5 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023 despite tighter budgets. Revenues are now US$18.6 billion. Palo Alto Networks leads the fractured market with an 8.7 per cent share. Fortinet has 7 per cent and Cisco has 6.1 per cent.

The Download Weekly is supported by Chorus New Zealand.