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Classification and the internet

Content downloaded from the internet comes under the definition of a 'publication' in the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, and can therefore be classified.

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Internet-sourced publications

Internet-sourced publications, including films and games, are subject to New Zealand classification law when they are downloaded/accessed from a computer in New Zealand.

The Classification Office can classify publications such as images, text or video files from a website, as well as emails, chat logs and other content.

Banned/illegal online material

Some types of image, video, text or other publication are illegal ('objectionable') in New Zealand. For example, any content that promotes or supports the sexual exploitation of children or young people. It is an offence to make or distribute objectionable content. It is also an offence to view this content, even if you do not save a copy of the material you are viewing.

Learn more about the type of content that is Objectionable

Some films and games are classified as objectionable (banned) in New Zealand. It is an offence to make or distribute an objectionable film or game. It is also an offence for someone in New Zealand to download, view or play an objectionable film or game.

Learn more about Classification enforcement, offences and penalties


The Classification Act has jurisdiction over websites if they are operated or updated from New Zealand.

For example, if somebody in New Zealand uploads objectionable content to a website hosted overseas, they can be prosecuted for distribution and supply, as their actions would have made this content available to people in New Zealand.

Chat logs are subject to the law and chat rooms likely to be of concern are monitored by the Department of Internal Affairs.

For more information contact the Information Unit.