Finland wants mandatory moderation on all discussion boards

This is laughable: The national prosecutor wants mandatory moderators on all discussion boards. Why? Because currently there's a loophole in the legislation: if nobody moderates the messages, every person is responsible for what they write. However, if there is moderation, the moderators have responsibility for the messages.

So, if you have e.g. a blog, you suddenly become liable for everything that everyone else says on the comment section. Meaning that you must, in practice, read everything that everyone writes. For a blog this is probably still doable, but for a moderately active discussion board or a wiki... no chance.

Here's again an idea which, from a very narrow point of view, makes sense - but fails when thinking of the grander scheme of things:

  • You cannot control foreign sites. Meaning that USENET, blogspot.com and, well, close to 90% of everything is outside the reach of the law. And, obviously, people who habitually send in "bad" messages, will just shift to those places. There are some scary possibilities here if Finland starts thinking - just like the US - that Finnish law is also applicable on foreign soil.
  • What if someone buys something from a spam link and sues you for false advertising? Just asking...
  • We already have legislation which allows the police to get the IP address of the suspect, and figure out who he is. So, instead of making *everyone* the police, the police should be doing their job.
  • Because most people haven't got the slightest idea what is legal and what is not, it's probable that the moderators will start deleting messages "just in case". I know some sites which already do this - and I would hate to see every single discussion board to become like them.
  • What about copyright violations? Will the moderators will be responsible for those as well? Probably yes - so you must become a real police trying to figure out if e.g. an avatar image is stolen from somewhere. The easy solution: ban all images and links.
  • Large sites become near-impossible - or at least very expensive - to govern and control.
  • Mandatory moderation just stinks of censorship - or at least the first step towards it. You see, once such a large-scale system is in place, you can start enforcing things like "no discussion on topic X", and the scared little moderators will comply, because they don't want to go to jail.
  • What about other legal issues, like falsifying information? Stock-pump schemes? Are you responsible also if someone says that "he has good knowledge of stock XXX going up in the next few days?"
  • What about sites where everyone is a moderator, like a wiki?

All in all, this idea seems to be born straight out of an ass of some control freak. I wouldn't be surprised if the media industry was behind this: it would give them the ability to close whole websites or go after the moderators, if there's any "organized discussion" on copyright legislation. It would be easier and cheaper than trying to figure out IP addresses of the actual problem people, and just as effective. Not that they didn't actually do anything, but hey, a prosecutor's job is to find a scape goat!

Update: Apologies to Jari Lindholm for poor choice of words - when I sent "media industry", I really meant "entertainment industry" as a sub-species. I agree with your viewpoint that unmoderated discussion boards are probably a good thing to media houses. I was more concerned about this becoming yet another way with which e.g. discussion on piracy, crime, cryptography, and other grey areas could be stifled.




Comments

First: Finland doesn't want this. This has been speculated by one prosecutor.

Secondly, media (as in publishers of newspapers and journalists and so on) probably doesn't want this. Control costs money and liability costs money. This sort of legislation would probably mean end of discussion services in Finnish media. That would be bad for the publishers, as these services attract big crowds and they require only small staff.

--KariHaakana, 13-May-2007


I certainly hope so. However, I am waiting for the inevitable "but this would be a way to stop kiddie porn" -card to be played by someone.

Yeah, and sorry for the slightly misleading headline - just using the best practices of tabloid newspapers... ;-)

--JanneJalkanen, 13-May-2007


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