ENDitorial: Finnish web censorship
(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)
As of 1 January 2007 a law took effect in Finland allowing the Police to maintain a secret blacklist of child porn sites and distribute it to ISPs so that these may block access to those sites. Use of the lists is ostensibly voluntary to ISPs, but there have been rather strong hints of making it mandatory if not adopted otherwise. After a slow start, Police actually started distributing the list late last year and several ISPs have began using them.
In February 2008, the police added the site lapsiporno.info to the blacklist. Despite the name (Lapsiporno means "child porn" in Finnish), the website contains no child or any other kind of porn, but criticism of censorship and a partial collection of addresses from the officially secret list.
Publishing the list was apparently what made the police blacklist it. The point of the published list, however, was to demonstrate that not all blocked sites were child porn ones and there, it has succeeded beyond expectations.
Several people have gone through the list of over 1000 addresses and have concluded that the numbers of actual child porn sites are no more than 10, with some 30 or so borderline cases. Most of the sites contained legal sexual content, while some had no apparent connection with sex at all, like a violin shop in Japan and a memorial of Thailand's late princess. Even one search engine was blocked.
After a public outcry, the police stated they woudn't explain the justification of blocking any individual site, but suggested that the collection of links to the banned sites could be construed as a "portal" to them, and summoned Matti Nikki for questioning, under suspicion of aiding the distribution of child porn. No charges have been made as of now.
Meanwhile, there have been several complaints about the legitimacy of the law and the legality of the Police action to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and to the Chancellor of Justice, among others by EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Finland, arguing, inter alia, that the law is against the constitution, the police interpretation of it is arbitrary and the law wouldn't achieve its stated purpose even if effectively implemented.
The minister of communications, Ms. Suvi Lindén, defended the law in public in a way that suggested she completely failed to understand the point of the criticism, even hinting she'd want to make filtering mandatory to ISPs. Subsequently, a Internet petition was started demanding her resignation, which until now it has attracted almost 12000 signatures (for the sake of comparison, she was elected to the Parliament with just 4131 votes).
Otherwise, only one parliamentarian, Mr. Jyrki Kasvi, has spoken against the censorship - others have made no public statements whatsoever. Finnish politicians have clearly been taken by surprise.
There have been talks about "crisis of democracy" in Finland due to the decreasing voter turnout. Perhaps there is a crisis but rather due to government actions eroding people's freedoms. That people are rising to defend freedom of speech even in such a controversial context suggests democracy isn't dead here yet.
Finish Internet Censorship List
Recent developments in the Finnish Internet censorship system. The Finnish
police censors much more than was originally intended (18.02.2008)
(Contribution by Tapani Tarvainen - EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Finland)