Web censorship in FinlandThursday, February 21, 2008 at 4:28 | Posted in censorship, Finland, Freedom of speech, information, internet, transparency | 4 Comments
Tags: child pornography, Electronic Frontiers Finland
When you talk about governments censoring the Internet, you would be most likely to think of countries like China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba etc. As I wrote in my previous post, an attempt to block a whistle blower site was recently made by the US judicial branch. As it turns out, Finland has also joined the notorious countries where government agencies under the noble pretext of fighting child pornography are actually blocking a large number of sites that have nothing to do with child pornography.
Some of the censored sites just incidentally happen to be critical about the censorship itself, including this one operated by Matti Nikki. Matti explains exhaustively in English about the background of his site and the censorship issue. Additional information in English and related links can be found in this article by Electronic Frontier Finland.
The Finnish Parliament
last year past a legislation in 2006 allowing the National Bureau of Investigation to comply a list of foreign based web sites allegedly including child pornography. The list was supposed to be sent to Internet service providers together with a request to block access to the listed sites. The black list was supposed to be strictly targeted.
Anybody trying to access the listed URL’s in Finland was supposed to be directed to a NBI page informing about the denied access (here displayed by Matti Nikki). Since my ISP has not (yet?) implied the filter, I am currently able to access both Matti’s site and every other black listed site. I am among other things able to establish that blocking all of the Japanese web portal www.iij4u.or.jp can hardly be described as “strictly targeted filtering”. Among other censored sites I fail to understand what this Japanese music store may have to do with child pornography.
The NBI refuse to comment their black list in public. They also refuse to answer the obvious question why they have not made the courtesy of e-mailing their colleagues in the FBI and European law enforcing agencies about sites actually containing child pornography. One must assume they have not informed their colleagues as the sites are still visible. That also raises the obvious question whether their intention was not to block legitimate critical web contents rather than child pornography.
Electronic Frontiers Finland has filed a complaint to the Chancellor of Justice about the legality of the NBI filter list. The complete complaint (in Finnish) can be accessed here. Among their many questions to the Chancellor is how come Matti Nikki’s site landed on the list although it is completely based in Finland and the law allows only foreign based sites to be filtered.