Filtering debate at NetHui 2018

Mandatory filtering of our internet by government agencies is appropriate in NZ

Facilitators: Shane Hobson & Andrew Cushen

Good cop Andrew & bad cop Shane will lead a discussion on the topic of internet filtering by NZ Govt agencies. Shane will take the affirmative, explaining that the benefits to society of filtering outweigh the costs, while Andrew will vigorously defend every New Zealander’s right to an open and accessible internet.

Netsafe Report – Teens and Sexting: Prevalence and Attitudes

Netsafe has recently released New Zealand’s first ever research report exploring sexting behaviour in NZ teens – ‘Teens and Sexting: Prevalence and Attitudes’. The 37-page report outlines upsetting statistics about the sharing of nudes among young New Zealanders aged 14-17 years old. The report outlines the differences between categories of youths, such as gender, ethnicity and disability. With this complex and evolving behaviour becoming a part of the norm, sexting is a topic parents’ should be increasingly concerned about.

“This report is has been released as part of an ongoing project exploring young people’s experiences of digital risk and harm, carried out by a partnership between Netsafe and the Ministry for Women. We deeply value the contribution of the Ministry for Women team whose encouragement and insights have helped shaped this study.”

Managing kids’ access to technology is a struggle that most parents face on a daily basis. Who are my kids are engaging with? What are they saying to each other? What kinds of things are they learning about? What websites do they have access to? What are they sending to each other? Are they being appropriate? Are just a few of the questions most parents are asking themselves.

Throughout the study, when Netsafe asked the general public what kind of behaviour they assumed 14-17-year-olds participate in, public attention centred on the potential risks faced by young people sharing nude content online, and the apparent pervasiveness of this behaviour. However, there has been no statistical evidence to support or explain how much of an impact technology has had on our youths when it comes to inappropriate behaviour online.

Here are just a few of the statistics NetSafe discovered:

• 4% of teens say they have sent nude or nearly nude content of themselves in the last 12 months. The percentage nearly doubles among older teens aged 17 years old (7%).

• 5% of all boys surveyed have asked someone for nude images or videos of them. In contrast, the percentage for girls is 2% in the last 12 months.

• Almost three-quarters agree that people should be punished for threatening to share images while a third think that available information and advice tackles issues related to the sharing of nude content well.

• Teens with disabilities were more likely to be asked for nude content of themselves and receive unsolicited nude content than those without impairments.

To read the full report, you can view it here!

Competition in the Pacific; Pricing factors due to government regulation

We recently returned from the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Assoc Marketing Forum. This forum was well attended by Pacific telco operators.

A common theme with the attendees was they were all incumbents in their home market and only two-faced competition today. All attendees were concerned about the threat of competition.

One of the main concerns in regards to a competitor entering their home market was the likelihood that the new entrant would cherry pick the high value, easy to reach customers. While that behaviour is to be expected in any market, it’s especially challenging in the Pacific. In many cases, the consumers being served are spread across sparse geographic regions separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean. One telco told me of them paying $1600 in airfares to reach a remote island to repair equipment providing mobile phone & internet service to a few hundred customers. These customers taken in isolation do not pay their own way and are being subsidised by those high value, easy to reach customers that are the target of challenger telcos.

pacificislands telco competition value added services

Competitor billboards nearly side by side in Solomon Islands for Vodafone & Telekom

What happens in a market where the regulator simply opens the gates and allows competitors into cherry pick without consideration being given to any form of universal service obligation that ensures their entire population has equal access to telecommunication services?

To answer this question, we suggest you look to the NZ example of the Telecommunications Development Levy*

Another common theme is the high level of religious adherence in the Pacific and with that a strong sense of family values. This flows through into resistance from parents to allow their children internet access via a mobile phone due to concerns about them gaining access to internet content that conflicts with their family values. We have spoken in depth with at least one Pacific ISP who cites this as a significant barrier to uptake of mobile phones. We also understand the need to lock a parental controls solution to the phone handset rather than the SIM due to the low cost of SIMs resulting in a child defeating parental controls by simply replacing the SIM. Our technology works in these markets to remove barriers to uptake by giving telcos the tools required to empower families to limit their child’s exposure to objectionable internet content. Our pricing models are tuned to work in pre-pay, low ARPU markets such as the Pacific, South Asia, and Africa.

NZ Regulatory History (with Speaker notes)

Buddy Guard Recognised – Finalist Best Broadband Innovation

Bypass Network Services is pleased to announce that their network level parental control solution – the Buddy Guard platform has been recognised as a finalist in the Broadband Compare Awards for Best Broadband Innovation. Bypass is the only Value Added Services Provider nominated in this category; the three others are traditional telecommunications providers.

Somewhat ironically, Bypass is not usually in the business of competing with its customers; it’s our role to help broadband providers stand out and differentiate themselves from their competition. The Best Broadband Innovation category is open to consumer and business Internet Service Providers as well as organisations like Bypass that work within the broadband industry.

Every month 30,000 consumers check Broadband Compare to look at the value their provider offers. Our offers are designed to set our customers broadband connection apart so they stop competing based on speed, price and data.

The uptake of the kid-safe Internet is gaining momentum, yet on the comparison site, customers with children can not see if their provider offers an option to block inappropriate content. We’ve contacted the site to see if we can rectify this.*

The awards are supported by Consumer, a trusted source of independent consumer information. We’re proud to be recognized and wish our fellow entrants all the best for the awards.

Our thanks to Chorus for sponsoring the Broadband Innovation Category.

*Update 28th Sept: Great news, we’ve heard back from Broadband Compare and are pleased to tell you they are creating a kid-safe category on their website soon.


Is the Aussie ISP a threatened species under NBN regime?

Andrew Khoo, Solutions Architect at AmaySIM spoke at AusNOG in Melbourne last week and explained that Australian ISPs are experiencing high levels of churn and reduced margins as the NBN is rolled out across Australia. Especially for ISPs outside of the “big 4” who don’t have the capacity to connect directly to all 121 NBN inter-connect points and are forced to buy the NBN service through an intermediary.

This is very similar to the NZ situation as the local government rolls out the UFB (Ultrafast Broadband Network) to around 87% of NZ premises. While the NZ UFB has a much lower barrier to entry for smaller ISPs, there is still enormous pressure on the small and mid-tier NZ ISPs from the large ISPs who offer multifaceted services.

Those multifaceted services include mobile and power being offered by a traditional telco (Slingshot), a Vocus brand and internet service being offered by electricity generators (Trustpower). These are all situations where cross-subsidization could occur between different services giving the large ISP an advantage over the smaller operator.

In both NZ & Australia, the fibre rollout has led to a land grab by ISPs as they take advantage of customer churn, driven by the awareness of new services available over the fibre networks not available on the copper networks such as high-resolution video streaming and multi-subscriber video streaming.

The NZ ISP market leads Australia by several years, so it is simple for Australian ISPs to see their future by looking across the Tasman to their NZ peers. There is still room for ISPs in Australia to bring other services into the mix (such as energy retailing) which will hit ISPs hard who are already struggling due to low margins and no significant point of difference from their competition.

ISPs selling over NBN need to evolve too rapidly to avoid extinction.  The quote that comes to mind is from Korean business theorist, W. Chan Kim who said in his Blue Ocean Strategy book, “The only way to beat the competition is to stop trying to beat the competition.” This is usually interpreted as instead of trying to beat the competition, do something different; precisely what the NZ ISPs who are crossing over into electricity resale are doing.

New Zealand ISPs are differentiating by adding related services to their internet service. Stuff Fibre (a one-year-old fibre ISP) has found good traction offering a parental controls service to their customers. This has immediate appeal to families with school-age children and provides a tangible point of difference from their competitors who talk about benefits such as internet speed and price.

Instead of competing based on price, speed and data they provide the end user with a point of difference that addresses a key concern in every family home with school-age children, how do we manage screen time?  

Talk to any parent in Australia, and you’ll know their kids see their device as an extension of themselves, as digital natives, and use the demands of homework to justify being online 24/7. They’ll tell you their teens stay up too late chatting with their friends, and this causes health concerns and issues with being tired at school.

We accept the Internet has more pro’s than con’s but have you ever thought about how helping your end users deal with a major breakdown will enhance your offer and improve your financial results?

Read More – Value Added Services Enhance ISP Growth

The number of devices in the home has forced telcos to rethink their parental controls strategy

Device pile


When computers first became mass market you only had to protect the PC in the living room. It made sense to use software. Now with the number of devices in the home, network level protection is simpler. It’s a single click activation for multiple devices with no end user upgrades. This is just one reason why network level parental controls have become widely deployed in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Buddy Guard is our white label parental controls platform which is designed for a telco to promote its brand, not resell the brand of a security software company. This positions the network as safe to enhance the telco brand, improve the value bundle and reduce churn.

Built for telco’s, our API’s are designed to use the telco portal to power the customer experience which increases self-service uptake.

As a managed service, unlike a traditional vendor where you buy an appliance or software application, we provide an SLA, monitoring and all upgrades for the parental controls platform.

Telco’s globally are also typically blocking CSA content, we provide this functionality that allows to turn a regulatory cost centre into a profit centre designed to add value to the end user. Find out more about our parental controls managed platform here.



Bypass to support latest compliance requirements set by Indian Government

Bypass Network Services provides Regulatory Compliance and Network Level Parental Control services to the Telecom Service Providers in partnership with Ekaga Futuristics Private Limited.

On 18th April the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) passed an order No.1 (3)/2016-CLFE) to enforce ISP’s in India to adopt the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) resources to prevent the distribution and transmission of online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

As a member of IWF, Bypass supports this decision but says this is just one step.  Bypass’ customers have access to the IWF blocking capability by default as a part of the managed regulatory control platform. What is missing is the ability for parents to monitor and manage their children’s to access inappropriate adult content on their mobile devices. In some case, this prevents families providing internet access to their child due to this concern. There are multiple layers of filtering, and the growing awareness of parents to the dangers of online content is raising awareness within the telecoms industry of the need to offer a solution.

As a Member of IWF Bypass customers in India have not had to take any additional action to meet this new requirement. Since online child safety is a globally growing concern, Bypass’ IWF partnership is a critical component to ensure its telco customers don’t expose their end users to inappropriate and illegal content.

For further information

Contact: Harkaran Sachdev

Phone: +91 93216 48337


Learn more about Regulatory Content Filtering

About Bypass

Bypass creates technology for broadband marketing teams to differentiate their brand and increase revenue. Bypass provides filtering services which keep kids safe online and helps telecommunications service providers meet industry regulated compliance requirements.

About Ekaga

Ekaga Futuristics Private Limited has been setup to address the gap which withholds the latest global innovators to enter into the South Asian market. Ekaga brings in Service Innovation to help such global start-ups enter the market.

Did anyone ask for the iPhone?

We often have customers say to us; our end users aren’t asking for parental controls. Q: Do you know anyone who asked for the iPhone before Steve Jobs told the world they needed it?

So how do we know your end users will want kid-safe Internet? In 2013 the industry and government in the UK reached an agreement to offer family-friendly network-level filtering to all customers. The joint industry commitment was to offer by Dec 2014 “an unavoidable choice” to customers to activate the filtering service in their home broadband.

Outlined below are some of the recent results from the Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report research conducted by Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK. The report is 233 pages long, so we’ve outlined the key facts related to parental control uptake from the section on Parental Mediation (page 12 & 13).

1. Use of ISP content filters has increased among parents of 5-15-year-olds since 2015.

Almost two-thirds parents with home broadband, whose child goes online, are aware of network-level content filters provided by ISPs, and around a third use them.uptake of network level parental controls

2. Parents use a combination of approaches to mediate their child’s access to, and use of, online content and services, including:

1. using technical tools
2. regularly talking to their children about managing online risks
3. supervising their child
4. having rules (about access to the internet and behaviour while online)appraches used by parents to moderate online content

The number of parents of 5-15s who DO NOT mediate their child’s internet use in any of the ways mentioned above has decreased from 6% to 4% since 2015.

3. Screen time gets harder to manage as children get older.

The majority of parents young childer agree that their child has a good balance between screen time and doing other things. Children and parents seem to be aligned on this. However, screen time gets harder to manage as children get screen time is hard to manage what do i do

4.  The ‘Digital Day’ research shows that children are messaging, sharing and liking throughout the day, including during school hours and late into the evening.

  • 9% of 11-15-year-olds are still communicating via social media at 10 pm on school nights
  • 2% are still messaging at midnight

If you’d like further information about the uptake, a 2015 report also provides an update on the steps taken by the UK’s four largest fixed-line internet service providers (ISPs) – BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – to offer a choice, both to new and to existing customers, whether or not to activate a family-friendly network-level filtering service.

Can Indian telecom operators reduce vulnerability to online frauds in a Cashless Economy?

This blog post originally appeared in the Economic Times of India TeleTalk blog.

The demonetization of currency and the Indian government’s push for a cashless economy has given a big thrust to online and mobile transactions. While this may lead to the reduction of black money, it also introduces an immediate risk with the increase of online financial fraud. Demonetization creates an urgency to adopt new technology by those who rely on the demonetised currency for their primary income, exposing those affected in typically less tech savvy strata of the society who are vulnerable to online threats.

Last week I posted a picture on social media of 1,000 & 500 Rupees notes I have from my recent visit to Mumbai.  Within minutes I had complete strangers recommending I download the PayTM and Freecharge digital wallets, and the Olacabs taxi app, apps I’d never heard off before. Coming from New Zealand, I am no stranger to paying electronically; New Zealand first introduced country-wide electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) in 1989.  In 2016 Apple Pay & Android Pay both launched, offering NZ consumers the option to pay using their smartphone. We don’t expect to pay with cash, ever, even for temporary retail stores or paying back your friends for a shared meal, or kids pocket – it’s all transacted online.


Although there are distinct advantages provided by electronic payments for convenience and security, demonetization will also create a security and fraud issue which will leave many people at risk of fraudulent and criminal behaviour as they adopt new technology.

The increasing use of the Internet for electronic payments, online banking, online shopping increases vulnerability to scammers. Research commissioned for Connect Smart Week 2014 found that 83% of New Zealanders had experienced a cyber security breach. Even in a mature market like New Zealand, the latest full-year figures revealed by Internet watchdog NetSafe show more New Zealanders were falling victim to scams, losing a total of $13.4m NZD ($10M USD) in 2015 – more than double the 2014 loss. If you extrapolate this data, and that from multiple mature markets including the UK, Australia the US, when considering the current Internet population of India the potential financial loss could easily reach ₹500 Crores per year.

A report released by Symantec earlier this year supports this; India is a prime target for cyber attacks. Now with this sudden push for the cashless economy, we are bound to see an increase in such attacks according to Bypass’s Mumbai partner Harkaran Singh Sachdev. According to Symantec India is the second most favoured destination for ransomware in Asia with the average number of attacks per day increasing over 100% from 2015; every sixth social media scam occurring globally impacts an Indian Internet user. India is the third most targeted destination for financial Trojan infections globally.

Mr Sachdev, a former AVP at Reliance Jio believes that the Telecom Service Providers sector can play a role in addressing this issue. Operators can have systems and processes to identify infected IP addresses, cutoff compromised systems or control malware intrusions. “We may soon move from comparing services providers by speed and data quota, to how safe is my data network” he suggests. I agree because to capture your information the most sinister tactics used by cyber criminals include scanning open internet connections for home computers and mobile devices which have holes in their security. When cyber criminals find these vulnerabilities, they hack in, install software to load up malicious web pages which direct to phishing sites which replicate banking websites or the tax department promising a refund, all without the owner’s knowledge. Internet-delivered attacks are no longer a thing of the future. They’re an impactful reality which will harm millions of Indian citizens over the coming years with the uptake of new payment services.

Demonetization will reduce offline fraud and escalate the adoption of revolutionary new technology which makes our lives easier, but government & industry must act promptly to create initiatives which safeguard the hard-earned money of the common man who is vulnerable to this unintended consequence of demonetization.

Only the those with serious tech skills truly grasp the severity of the issue. The vulnerability is not simply about poverty, but it is the poor or the elderly who tend to suffer worst from cyber threats, leaving those most at risk of demonetization to bear the burden of this technical revolution to electronic payments. Socio-economic inequality will expose hardworking citizens who rely on the demonetized currency for day to day services like cleaning, delivery, and general errands. As the services workers switch to a smartphone or online payments method for payment, they will be most at risk from common vulnerabilities and exploits used by attackers.

The India telecommunications industry can reduce the harm by providing safe online experiences which minimise the impact of online fraud. Telecom companies have a tremendous opportunity to help consumers manage their risks and strengthen their resilience by ensuring malware and cyber attacks are reduced, while improving their customer’s online experience. It’s time to consider if your Internet provider offers a safe connection which protects you from the constant threat of online fraud & cyber criminal activity. Bypass is well positioned to help mobile operators face this threat to their customer base with a network-wide regulatory compliance platform which is quick to implement and cost-effective to scale.

The evolution of Internet policy in the South Pacific

Child exploitation and blocking of inappropriate content online is a major topic of conversation in most of the Pacific Islands. This social environment poses a significant risk to any mobile operator’s business model or is an opportunity to reduce compliance cost and lead the industry depending on the operator’s response to the threat.


There are three options;

  1. Lead the market
  2. Watch your competitor lead the market
  3. Wait to be restricted by legislation

The potential harm of taking a reactionary position is high;

  • customer backlash
  • reduced data revenue
  • excessive compliance costs
  • legislation which restricts commercial flexibility.

Where website blocking compliance is mandatory and user-centric, it is integrated into the telco, but often in a situation where the telco can not recover costs, UK and Nigeria are a good example of this. In the UK telcos have traditionally had little opportunity to differentiate their offer, limited scope to determine the technological approach which meant they experience technology lock-in well past its effective use by date.

When site blocking is legislated it is ineffective; India is a good example of this. Lists of URLs to be blocked are provided to telecommunication companies, yet India has the 2nd highest rate of porn in the world.

Site blocking creates worldwide criticism for freedom of speech and does very little to alter the behaviour of citizens who will add VPN’s. VPN’s have a flow on impact to constrain the network which leads to poor performance on the network, which is blamed on the telco; this creates a higher support cost and a reduced % of the total customer wallet for telco services.

Despite good intentions, the government is left defending a blunt approach while having a tiny impact on behaviour they’re trying to prevent.

A good example of this occurred in Nauru when the government said blocking internet sites was necessary to crack down on pornography. The government is accused of blocking Facebook. The justice minister, David Adeang, stated in a release Nauru was a small country with limited resources “and we do not have the capability to monitor the Internet like larger nations, so this move and our new laws are both significant measures”.

This put the Nauru in the hot seat as U.N. decries internet blocking, was a clampdown on free expression and violation of human rights. Monitoring the Internet is not the key. In cases like this, the telco is in a prime position to assist the government with its objectives with a higher level of success, by making tools available for parents, while ensuring any industry compliance measures are met, to gain a local competitive advantage.

Longer term a telco may be able to offer the solution of choice while the government focuses on education and awareness.

Vanuatu is a great example of a programme of work addressing all areas of cyber criminal activity with a working group from education to criminal enforcement.

The Vanuatu Cyber legislation intends to form a working party to mandate the implementation of parental controls. You can find all of the information about the current government policies here. In cases like Vanuatu, the opportunity for the telco is to launch before any other provider to lead the market. With precedent and data, the telco is also in a position to influence the working party or provide a lead role. Also, a commercial precedent is set before any government legislation. While the telco is in the best position to help keep kids safe online, its still a business and responsible for maximising shareholder returns, not social objectives. A positive mobile CSR initiative can be funded from an operator, but the scope for charitable will still be determined by company profitability and APRU.

In Samoa, the pressure being applied by government officials is stemming from new awareness of Snapchat nude selfies and cyberbullying on Facebook which is occurring in local high schools. Statements from the police like “Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other sources of entertainment can be used to conduct cyber bullying and unauthorised postings of compromising pictures and harassment. “ are driving the government to act with blunt measures, where no alternative exists.

By providing the government with an industry-led approach, a mobile operator can avoid compliance costs by showing best practice approaches proven they achieve the outcomes legislators are seeking without an outright blocking of social media.

And as a telco you think you have time to react – you’re wrong, the Tongan Parliament rushed through two new bills recently, including one that will establish a new body with powers to block selected internet content. Matangi Tonga reports the House unanimously passed the bills which were pushed by communications minister, Siaosi Sovaleni.
Mandatory filtering is also mentioned which allow the blocking of certain websites for the sake of protecting children, although people can apply for the mechanism to be disconnected. It not clear if this will be at a country level or inside the telco. Similar moves are happening in Papua New Guinea. On 11th May 2016, a workshop organised by the PNG Censorship Board in collaboration with NICTA was held today in Port Moresby to deliberate on ideas that should be taken into consideration for an Internet Filtering Policy in the country.

What is the solution?

Create a point of difference which addresses a market need.

Bypass can work with the mobile operator to reduce the impact of compliance while increasing the effectiveness of filters which are controlled by the user. Bypass offers a kid-safe internet connection with is self-activated by the parent. The parent can choose to block social media outright, during a particular time of the day, as punishment, or to prevent cyberbullying issues.

Because the service can be self-activated or deactivated by the parent, this removes the negative impact of site blocking enforcement for those who value freedom of choice.

Parents are not just concerned about inappropriate content, their secondary concern is the physical and mental health of their teenagers spending too much time online, and this issue isn’t being addressed by the government. Spending too much time online can impact education and career prospects.

Reduce Compliance Cost

Bypass’s kid safe filtering technology is much wider reaching than government compliance. For example in India, our adult content filters block millions more domains than those in the government regulated lists.

By providing the tools for families to have a safe online experience, the operator can prove to the government that legislative regulation is not required, allowing the government to divert resources into education.

This approach to leading the market positions the ISP as family friendly while enhancing core relationships with government to influence local policy.

Meet legislative requirements

Bypass has built the technology to ensure legislative compliance requirements are met ensuring the service provider can meet any existing or future legal requirements, therefore, not putting local operating licences at risk.

Deployed on a single platform and because it’s inside the operator, network level data can also be used to show which approach is more effective to influence future policy changes without any risk of non-compliance.

Contact us for further information if you’d like some help understanding your options.