|1. What is a URL?
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is an internet address (for example, http://www.icta.mu/internet), usually consisting of the access protocol (e.g. http), the domain name (e.g. www.icta.mu), and optionally, the path to a file or resource residing on that server (e.g. internet for the address given above).
2. What is an internet service provider?
An internet service provider (ISP) is a company, organisation or other entity which provides a person or a device access to the internet, internet connectivity and other related services (e.g. hosting websites).
3. What is an online content filtering system?
An online filtering system is a piece of hardware or software or a combination of both that acts as a shield between the Internet and a user's computer, thus filtering access to potentially objectionable or offensive material. Most content filter manufacturers compile a list of sites they deem objectionable and classify them under different profiles, which often pertain to the end user's age.
4. Which laws are relevant?
Section 15 of the Child Protection Act 1994 as amended, whereby emphasis is laid on “indecent photographs of children” and section 18(1)(m) of the ICT Act 2001 as amended where one the functions of the ICT Authority is to take steps to regulate or curtail harmful and illegal content on Internet and other information and communication services.
5. Why implement the CSA filtering system?
Under section 18 (1) (m) of the ICT Act 2001, one of the functions of the ICT Authority is to take steps to regulate or curtail harmful and illegal content on the Internet and other information and communication services. Thus the contents being filtered out by the system are materials that fall within the ambit of Section 15 of the Child Protection Act.
6. What is the purpose of this filtering system?
The aim is to reduce the availability and circulation of child sexual abuse images and limit the trauma experienced by victims’ when such images circulate on the internet. At the same time, this system protects against accidental viewing, giving people in Mauritius the confidence in the Internet they deserve.
7. Where is the system hosted?
The system setup is presently hosted at the ICT Authority and is connected to local ISPs providing internet access to the public in Mauritius.
8. Which ISPs use the filter?
Emtel Ltd, Data Communications Ltd, Mauritius Telecom. In fact, all Internet traffic coming into Mauritius are filtered out for CSA contents.
9. What system is used to do the filtering?
The software is Netclean Whitebox, the leader in providing child online safety protection.
10. What sites are being stopped by this filtering system?
The NetClean WhiteBox solution uses a URL black list containing the addresses of sites that are to be filtered. This URL filtering list emanates from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a non profit organisation that is widely recognised as one of the best in the world at managing a URL list of CSA sites coupled with the Interpol blacklist.
11. Is it possible to modify the URL blacklist?
No, the list is automatically updated on a regular basis remotely by the online CSA filtering solution provider and modification of this list is not possible. Access or modification to the blacklist is not possible locally.
12. What happens if a user logs in to a banned site?
You will see a message saying that access to the site has been banned. Instead an ICTA blockpage will be displayed.
13. What happens if there are multiple sites on a server and only one of them is banned?
The filter is applied at the level of the internet address but it is common for a web server to host multiple websites on a single internet address. All requests to any of the sites on one of the filtered internet addresses will be diverted to the filtering server.
The filtering server then looks at the request. If it is to a banned site, the request is refused and a message is sent back to the person. The remaining sites which are not banned can still be viewed.
14. What happens if the website has a mixture of legal and illegal content?
It is possible to filter down to the level of folders or even individual documents and images on a website. E.g. you could filter http://www.website.com/badcontent but allow http://www.website.com/goodcontent.
15. Will internet filtering slow down the internet?
The filtering is implemented in such a way that it has very little effect on the passage of most network traffic meaning that there is little downgrade on performance.
16. What types of materials are filtered?
The filtering solution is used to filter only child pornography including video, photos, and text articles.
17. Is it possible to check whether a website is on the filtered list?
The only way to check whether the website is filtered is by attempting to access it.
18. Does this stop even the most determined people from looking at sexually abusive images of children?
This initiative is one element in a wider effort to combat the making and distribution of images of child sexual abuse via the Internet and the activities of determined criminals who exploit internet-based technologies and services to this end. Filtering is designed to protect people from inadvertent access to potentially criminal images of child sexual abuse. No known technology is capable of effectively denying determined criminals who are actively seeking such material; only removal of the content at source can achieve that goal.