Finnish police arbitrarily censors pages which criticize censorship

Finland has implemented a "voluntary" censorship list (based on DNS) to block kiddie porn images. It also seems to block the occasional gay porn and whatever else the police happens to think is filthy. The list is secret, so you're not supposed to know what's on it. Of course, an entrepreneurial hacker pretty easily figured out by spidering different porn site addresses which sites are blocked, and published the list, among with a number of censorship-critical writings on his web pages.

Apparently, as of yesterday, the site is blocked (Finnish) by the censorship list. So, according to the police, while the law explicitly says that "any site containing pornography involving minors" may be blocked, they're now saying that any site "which links to a site containing pornography involving minors" is illegal too.

This is a big distinction, and shows that censorship is a slippery slope. Now, if I link to a site containing the link list, does that make me liable too? What about all the newspapers? What about the search engines? Why would you treat them any differently?

And most of all, what about freedom of speech? The law only speaks of images - not links. The links are supposed to be blocked anyway, so it's not like you can follow them (unless, you know how to use opendns or one of the thousand other services). So, by extending the block list, the Finnish Police are effectively saying they feel empowered to control what we are allowed to say or hear, without any regard to the legislative process.

Any censorship attempts on the internet lead to this point. And this is not the end - oh no! The next things will probably be terrorism sites - sites that tell you how to build bombs. Then we'll get pressurized by foreign governments to expand our definition of "terrorism". And then the large companies will start to complain about piracy sites - both material and intellectual. And about that point, the system will grow beyong the management capacity of a single team, and will be fully automated, and then it'll be easy for people to "game" the system, blocking competition. Because censorship is, at its core, not about moral or immoral, but about opportunity, power and money. The people in control will use it to further their control, not protect the citizens from harm. It's simply too alluring a tool to be wasted on principles and ethics - which is why all modern countries have freedom of speech in their constitutions.

Update: There are at least 20 mirrors of the censored site already, with instructions on how to make your own mirror.

Update2: The easiest way to access the site is to add ".nyud.net" to the web address. So, use http://lapsiporno.info.nyud.net, if you wish to access it. Works for any blocked address.




Comments

Some english news about the topic for non-finnish. - http://www.effi.org/julkaisut/tiedotteet/lehdistotiedote-2008-02-12-en.html - http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Finnish_internet_censorship_critic_blacklisted - http://users.tkk.fi/~mpruikko/finland_censorship.html

--Zache, 13-Feb-2008


I failed, so second try.

--Zache, 13-Feb-2008


Btw, i think that the freedom of the speech thing is not about the right to publish the list. It is that we can do any sane critic about it.

If we can't discuss or share information about the content of list we can't do any analysis about internet censorship and thus any critic about it. Eg. Only reason that we know about that there is top3 gay porn sites on the list, or that 1/5 of the sites are located physically in EU and most of the rest are in US is because we know what is inside of the list.

--AnonymousCoward, 13-Feb-2008


I wonder when the main media (hs, iltasanomat etc) will take this situation to the light..

--AnonymousCoward, 13-Feb-2008


Thank you. Saying these things is important.

--AnonymousCoward, 13-Feb-2008


Helsingin Sanomat has already noted this, so has YLE. Not to mention the entire IT press.

This is pretty big.

--JanneJalkanen, 14-Feb-2008


According to Finnish law, any website hosted inside Finland should not be blocked. And still the police (and the ISPs) have blocked this particular web site. So who's the one acting unlawfully here?

--AnonymousCoward, 14-Feb-2008


I counted the mirrors (from the je.org -list) today: 50. There may of course be duplicates.

--Laura Kataja, 19-Feb-2008


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