After Newsroom reported that the Chief Censor would back ISPs who blocked access to 8chan, Spark announced it would do so. Now 2degrees is following suit, Marc Daalder reports.

Spark NZ and 2degrees have both said they will block access to the notorious internet forum 8chan in the event that it resurfaces.

Vodafone NZ spokeswoman Nicky Preston said that if 8chan comes online again, “we will consider options, bearing in mind that we don’t believe, in principle, that it is the role of the ISPs to police the internet”.

Prior to a Newsroom article published on Thursday in which Chief Censor David Shanks said he “would support any domestic ISP that decided that in these extreme circumstances they would no longer link NZ customers to 8chan”, Spark had said it would not be blocking the site. 2degrees had not commented for the previous article.

The move comes after 8chan’s founder has called for the website to be shut down after it was linked to Sunday’s El Paso Walmart shooting, which saw 22 people killed and dozens injured. The current owner and operator of 8chan has been summoned to testify to the United States Congress.

8chan also played a prominent role in the Christchurch terror attack, with users working to distribute the alleged shooter’s manifesto and video. It was also linked to the Poway, California synagogue shooting, in which one woman was killed.

After El Paso, 8chan’s security company and domain host both pulled their support, taking the website offline. It is unclear if the forum is still down – at 6am on Thursday (NZT), technology news site Ars Technica reported the site was back up.

In the hours after Christchurch, ISPs acted fast to block access to websites – including 4chan and 8chan – that hosted the alleged shooter’s manifesto and video. These websites were eventually unblocked and ISPs had been reluctant to take more permanent action against 8chan.

However, there is precedent for blocking websites. The Department of Internal Affairs maintains a list of child pornography websites that ISPs agree to block access to. But the Government has so far declined to pursue blocking far-right websites more permanently.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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