Lists of allegedly illegal websites always leak

By EDRi · January 14, 2009

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

While some European countries block the illegal content (mostly child
pornography websites), other are considering implementing a similar measure
through a hidden list. However the past month has shown, one more time if
necessary, that usually the list of any blocked content will leak and thus
the allegedly blocked content will become widely available.

Belgium is one of the new countries considering such a list. The Minister of
Enterprise and Administrative Reform, Vincent Van Quickenborne, want to ban
child pornography on the Internet through a protocol between ISPs and the
Government. The protocol might extend to other illegal sites, such as hate
and racism websites or Internet fraud.

The federal police special division Federal Computer Crime Unit (FCCU)
confirms that it detects yearly 800 – 1000 child pornography websites hosted
in foreign countries and the court procedure to block those sites is rarely
used since it is too burdensome.

The Flemish League for Human Rights (Liga voor Mensenrechten) has criticized
the project underlining that ” the decision to block websites must remain
under exclusive authority of the judicial branch. It is unacceptable that
the police gets a wild card to block certain websites at will.”

The legal framework already exists in Belgium, but Minister Van
Quickenborne wants a more flexible mechanism that can be used more quickly
to effectively block websites. It seems that the police will get the
authority to compose the blacklists of to be blocked websites, without any
legal safeguards or external oversight mechanisms. The fact that FCCU
admits right away that this practice should also be applicable in other
cases, makes the whole practice very worrisome.

The practice of the hidden lists of illegal websites is not new. But in the
past month, we’ve seen at least 3 major blacklists become public, thus
becoming irrelevant.

The blacklist operated by the Danish child pornography filtering system
(3863 blocked URLs) leaked on 23 December 2008 and is available in full

Only a few days before the Thailand’s blacklist made by the Ministry of
Information and Communication Technology that block access to websites
deemed unsuitable for the Thai people become available on the Internet.
(1203 websites). The list included hundreds of YouTube videos (including
Hillary Clinton’s campaign videos) as well as blogs, cartoons, Charlie
Chaplin videos and an article in the Economist magazine banned for
criticising the Thai king.

In the same period Wikileaks published the Finnish Internet censorship list.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation has requested executive
assistance from United States, but it is not known what precisely has been
requested – whether the concern is only removing the list or whether they
are trying to find out who leaked it. The list still includes the critical
Finnish anti-censorship site

Government wants to eliminate sites with child pornography (only in Flemish,

The government wants to block paedophiliac websites (only in French,

Flemish Human Rights League – Minister Van Quickenborne want flexible system
for blocking websites.A form of censorship? (12.01.2008)

List of banned websites in Thailand and Denmark leaked online (23.12.2008),28348,24840506-5014239,00.html

List of Child Porn Sites Leaked to Public (13.01.2009)

EDRi-gram: ENDitorial: Finnish web censorship (27.02.2008)