China, meet Finland, Finland, this is China

Finland is part of the exclusive club that is being chaired by China. That club is called "Countries that censor the Internet".

The thing I have been afraid of and have been warning of happened. A moral panic caused a piece of legislation to be rushed through the parliament and made in to a law. That law is is called "Law of preventive measures to stop the spread of child pornography". In a nutshell, the law gives the authorities the right to create blacklists of websites that are to be censored. Theory is that only foreign websites containing child-pornography will end up on the list. The list is limited to just foreign websites, because if the website was in Finland, it would naturally be shut down by authorities, since pedophilia is illegal in Finland.

Well, that's the theory. In reality large part of the censored websites do not contain child-pornography. Many contain normal gay-porn. Many contain 100% straight porn. Many of those website reside in EU or USA (where pedophilia is also illegal). If those websites have illegal material, why haven't those countries shut them down? It's either because

a) they do NOT contain illegal material

b) They do contain illegal material, but Finnish authorities who discovered it haven't notified their colleagues in those countries

In addition, many of the websites in the blacklist are not related to porn at all! Yet for some reason, they are still censored.

And, like I said, the blacklist should only cover foreign websites. But now the authorities have added a Finnish website which critiques the law and the blacklist in to the blacklist as well! Am I the only one who is starting to get a bit worried about this?

Then there's the fact that Finnish Constitution bans censorship. So this law is unconstitutional as well. So that's three ways this law is flawed so far:

1. The law itself is unconstitutional.

2. The law is supposed to only deal with child-pornography. But the blacklist contains lots of websites that have nothing to do with child-pornography!

3. The law is supposed to only deal with foreign websites. But now they are using that law to muzzle a dissenting voice inside Finland.

The moment I heard of this law, I was certain that once the groundwork is done, some people will insist on using it for other purposes as well. And sure enough: record-labels and the like have told that they would like to see the law extended so that it covers websites that distribute material that infringes on their copyright! What next? Censoring websites that critique the government?

The whole law looks and feels evil. The authorities compile the blacklist (which is officially secret) of banned websites, and internet service providers can then use that list to block access to those websites. And the lawmakers did say that "using that blacklist is voluntary".... And then they continued by saying "but if service providers do not voluntarily use the blacklist, we will make it mandatory".

I'm deeply ashamed and PISSED OFF!


dr witmol said...

Australia had a proposal like that late last year:

"Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy says new measures are being put in place to provide greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites.

Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material.

Senator Conroy says anyone wanting uncensored access to the internet will have to opt out of the service."

- ABC News (31 Dec, 2007)

My question: Why should everyone else without children undergo this filtering and then have to apply for uncensored access?

What about households where some members want access but want to 'protect' their children? Net Nanny anyone? How about some responsible parenting?

Janne said...

Those are my thoughts on this issue as well. And there's also the question of how effective this kind of system really is at preventing child-porn from being available? I have seen reports that say that about 99% of such material is spread using encrypted networks that reside outside regular internet. They use the same infrastructure (routers, cabled etc.), but the traffic can't be accessed easily by "outsiders". And this type of censorship would not affect that kind of system at all!

The minister in charge was asked about that fact and she said that "The goal of this law is more about preventing people from accidentally going in to website containing child-pornography". Excuse me? How do you "accidentally" end up in a website containing pedophilia?

This law has all the markings of a case where the politicians can say "pedophilia is bad, but at least we are doing SOMETHING to prevent it!", when in reality the measures they have taken are illegal themselves and 100% useless.