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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

W3C.org Briefly Censored In Finland 115

Posted by timothy
from the well-they-do-inspire-impure-thoughts dept.
k33l0r writes "The web site of W3C, w3.org or w3c.org, was briefly censored (Google Translation) by at least some of the local ISPs. For an unknown reason the URL was mistakenly entered into the Federal Police's censor database. Some of the Finnish ISPs use the database to filter out questionable content such as child pornography." Finnish online activist Matti Nikki describes some of the problems with this database-based censorship.
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W3C.org Briefly Censored In Finland

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:08PM (#25180805)

    In Redmond, Washington w3.org has been blacklisted for the developers of Internet Explorer for years!

    • Human translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by plj (673710) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:04PM (#25181479)

      Sorry for the bad quality, it is 5 AM in Finland, and I'm very tired. But I bet I can still beat Google's translation service.

      W3C's site on Finnish censorship list

      (Updated on 27/9/08 at 19:31: DNA wasn't the only operator affected by the censorship.)

      Customers of telecom operator DNA were unable to access the web server of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organisation developing web standards, on Friday evening and early Saturday, because the address of the site had erroneously became included on the censorship list of National Bureau of Investigation.

      Many readers of Tietokone magazine informed us late Friday evening and early Saturday that a police information page was opened instead of www.w3.org. The information page says that the target page includes child pornography. The problem was fixed on early Saturday, and currently DNA's customers should be able to access W3C's site normally.

      Different operators use the same filtering list provided by the NBI, but different operators may fetch the updated list at different times.

      Internet activist Matti Nikki also describes of these observations on his lapsiporno.info -site (lapsiporno == child pornography), which still cannot be accessed by those operators' connections that use the filtering list. (Translator's note: using the list is not mandatory for operators.)

      Operators have kept filtering webpages by domain, even though this is not the first time the practice has caused ambiguousness in censorship.

      NBI and operators assured last spring, that ambiguous domain-based filtering can be replaced by URL-based filtering, but implementation of this change has been delayed. Many operators have also announced that they will make the filtering voluntary to their customers due to technical problems and negative publicity.

      Censorship list in the hands of the NBI

      Internet operators gave an estimate for Tietokone magazine last spring, that implementing a precise URL-based filtering system will cost millions of euros. Present domain-based filtering methods are based on domain name redirects or so-called mandatory proxies, i.e. transparent proxies.

      Public relationship officer of DNA, Sinikka Veneranta, says that the police removes and adds addresses to the list as they see best, and the operator does no processing for the addresses on the list by itself.

      But there are still differences in the time how quickly the addresses on the list will end up in systems of different operators. W3C's address is known to have been end up also to the systems of Mikkeli Telecom Co-operative (MPY).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Now - this actually presents us with the reality that the filtering that occurs on the web is flawed.

      If they only could filter junk like spam emails and annoying commercials the filtering would be better.

      It's also worth to realize that "illegal" content is available in so many places that it's like filtering water with a colander. ("illegal" because not everything filtered is illegal - or only illegal in one country but not another).

      Another impact this has is that whole domains/sites can be filtered out jus

    • The WC3 is almost entirely backed by heavy corporate interests from military, big pharma, and Cern itself and they have come out saying that they are not happy with some "conspiracy theories" websites getting too much respect from the average viewer, such as anti vaccination (vaccination not inoculation which is a completely different thing) sites that show real information on problems caused by vaccinations such as autism and the like, and some of those pharmaceuticals are manufacturing these products! So
      • by mpower88 (1084349)
        Oh and just to add to my point on vaccination although that was just one of many issues pertaining to public information and what they consider "approved information sources" (aka the pentagon and big pharma!) - just on vaccination - these are people who are exposing the fact that many vaccinations are poorly tested, contain monkey and other animal dna without the knowledge of the recipient of the drug and contain mercury based preservatives that have no medical benefit and are only used to preserve the dru
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:13PM (#25180845) Homepage

    Obviously child-porn websites can't exist without protocol standards that designate how things like HTTP and HTML are to work.

    The police who created this list were simply cutting off the head of the beast. Sure, there might be a little collateral damage... but won't somebody think of the children?

    Anyhow, mission accomplished. You might even say it has been finnished.

  • Blacklists suck. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This isn't news. Legitimate sites ending up on blacklists is normal. It happens all the time. Might as well report that the sun rises in the morning.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:38PM (#25181043)

      To my knowledge, only even remotely comparable situation where so obviously legal site has ended up on the list is the site criticising the list. Of course, in case of w3.org, block was removed in hours, in case of the other site, it has been there for months (and it's till there).

      The fact that, for instance, some gay porn sites have ended up on this list so easily tells something about the list. At least about the fact that thanks to horribly badly designed legislation, nobody putting these sites on the list actually needs to fear getting punished for misconduct, caused harm... or anything else.

    • by alisson (1040324)

      Especially since it was already fixed by the time the article was written!

      The headline should have read "Police Make and then Fix Mistake!"

    • by schon (31600)

      So, what you're saying is that it's OK to censor and wrongly accuse people of things, and we should all just roll over and be good sheep, because it "happens all the time."

      After all, if it's "not news", and we should just ignore it, then it must be OK.

    • by RCL (891376)
      Well, at least for me it is news that Finnish ISP do blacklist [arbitrary] sites. I'm not in Finland myself (have been there to Assembly demoparty though), but I didn't expect them (a pretty liberal nation, at least as it seems from Russian POV) to censor the internet.
    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:37PM (#25181965) Homepage Journal
      Given everything the W3C has done over recent years, nobody is entirely sure if blocking the W3C is censorship or saving the planet from standards bloat.
    • Might as well report that the sun rises in the morning.

      In Finland that is news [wikipedia.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some child pornographers are very concerned with valid HTML, and linked to their validator on their pages. As a result, it was flagged as related to child porn.

  • Easy to circumvent: (Score:5, Informative)

    by WTF Chuck (1369665) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:38PM (#25181045) Journal

    Effi: Finnish police censors a critic of censorship [effi.org]

    This shows that they are using DNS based filtering. Very easy to get around, run your own DNS servers and bypass your ISP's DNS servers alltogether.

    • by luvirini (753157)

      Most people lack the knowhow to do this.

      While knowing that you should run your own DNS server helps those who know how to do it, it will not help the majority of the victims if the police blocks some even more important site in the future.

      • You need not run your own server ... just point your system at any of the thousands of other public servers out there.

        If what these idiots are doing becomes a problem, more and more people will figure out how to bypass simple DNS filtering. At that point, the powers-that-be will have to spend big bucks implementing a more capable filter. They probably don't want to do that.
        • At that point, the powers-that-be will have to spend big bucks implementing a more capable filter. They probably don't want to do that.

          I think they probably will want to do that. Anything for the children you know.

          • At that point, the powers-that-be will have to spend big bucks implementing a more capable filter. They probably don't want to do that.

            I think they probably will want to do that. Anything for the children you know.

            Well, I meant "don't want to" as in "don't want to spend the money." DNS filtering is cheap, considering that they have the ISPs doing all the work. Sounds like they'd like nothing better than a Great Firewall if they could pull it off. Still, I guess it's a good thing that someone has the next generation's best interests at heart.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by WTF Chuck (1369665)

        Personally, I am running bind. My ISP's DNS servers were rather slow to respond.

        With most linux distros, all you have to do is install it with your package manager, and then set your machine to use itself, rather than the ISP, as the DNS server. The default configuration that gets installed will generally query the root servers. You will need to check your distros documentation just in case.

        Bind packages can also be found for DD-WRT. I don't run them, so I cant say how well they work.
        DD-WRT Bind DNS-sl [dd-wrt.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hydrofix (1253498)

      No you dont even have to run your own DNS server and you can stil use your ISPs DNS (it's 99% time faster than say OpenDNS). If you end up on a site with the police cencorship notice, connect to any machine (SSH) or site (WWW) that can resolve domain names without the cencorship. I think all university networks, all foreign machines and sites like http://www.dnswatch.info/ [dnswatch.info] are good for this. Then just edit your /etc/hosts file and manually override the IP address for the domain on per-site basis. Add this l

      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        The w3c filtering incident used a "forced proxy" (a proxy which interferes with http whether you want or not), at least with DNA. They were apparently experimenting with second generation filtering.

        To circumvent that you need to use some external proxy, perhaps even through SSL.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:53PM (#25181123) Journal
    Clearly Finland only approves of mature web standards...
  • Automation for-the-loose.

  • Some of the Finnish ISPs use the database to filter out questionable content such as child pornography.*

    To be fair, I think that's a bit beyond questionable... don't you?
    (*emphasis added)

    • by thermian (1267986) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @08:29PM (#25181319)

      Some of the Finnish ISPs use the database to filter out questionable content such as child pornography.*

      To be fair, I think that's a bit beyond questionable... don't you?

      (*emphasis added)

      It has been my experience that such things become a problem when they aren't questioned.

    • by porpnorber (851345) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @08:38PM (#25181371)

      Do you know, when I was a kid, pictures of naked children were socially acceptable (after all, kids often didn't wear clothes on the beach, and everyone washes their own kids, right? So you're not seeing anything you haven't seen a thousand times before), and pictures of naked adults were not (because that's just not ... right). I think this establishes that, yes, it is possible to ask some questions here. You'll note that I'm not trying to imply any particular answers, but then while politically I oppose the abuse of anyone, my sexual tastes run only to adult women, so I'm hardly in a position to judge this with any sensitivity.

      Think. Think is good. Think of the adults, think of the children, think of the society we are trying to engineer, but please, couldn't we try to think?

      No matter where the right and wrong lie, you can't build justice out of knee-jerk reactions, and egging people on to visceral responses makes you one of, to be blunt, the enemy. Because, you know, it's that kind of unthinking action on the basis of hormones that we are supposedly trying to fight when we jointly choose to try to limit people's proclivities.

      • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@noSPAM.notroswell.com> on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:07PM (#25181485) Homepage Journal

        By child pornography, I mean adult porn with children. A picture of a thirty-year-old man naked != porn. Picture af ten-year-old naked != porn. Picture of either of said persons engaging in sexual acts or behaving provocatively = porn.

        That again: child running about naked on beach - NOT PORN. Child having sex or being filmed in a way intended to arouse the viewer - IS PORN, therefore far beyond questionable content.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordLucless (582312)
          behaving provocatively
          a way intended to arouse the viewer

          Care to define those terms so they are beyond question for us? I mean, there have been people who've said that skirts ending above the ankles are provocative, and there are people who can be aroused by just about anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by corsec67 (627446)

          What about a pair of 17 year olds filming themselves having sex.

          Child porn?

          Should they be charged with a felony? (For the video, assume the sex was in a state where that is legal)

          • There have actually been cases of this happening. Basically what usually happens is the children (up to 17) are punished without the law (suspended if done at school, etc) and any adults/companies/etc knowingly involved in the reproduction, distribution and/or storage of the material are slapped (rather viciously) with child-pornography charges.

            The children are usually not charged legally, but after their parents, school administration, older siblings, etc get a hold of them, they wish they hadn't done it.

            • by corsec67 (627446)

              The children are usually not charged legally, but after their parents, school administration, older siblings, etc get a hold of them, they wish they hadn't done it.

              [Citation needed]. Sorry, but I can't provide a citation either way.

              There sure are a lot of news articles where the person was charged, though.

              I don't really know where to get statistics about this, like how many cases like this have been tried, convictions, alternative punishments as you suggest, etc.

              I will say that "child porn" has been markete

              • by fatphil (181876)
                Paedophilia is marketted by the media as so evil that even paediatricians are being hounded.
          • Just to make my position clear, I think that the age of majority should be lowered by at least one year. It seems ridiculous to me that there are differing age restrictions based on PARTICIPATING IN and VIEWING OR CREATING DEPICTIONS OF sex acts - which is why I think it would be simpler and more logical to lower the age of majority to 16. It make sense considering most kids will have finished their (or be close to completing) GCSE or K-12 equivalent education courses.
        • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @02:45AM (#25182827)

          "By child pornography, I mean adult porn with children. A picture of a thirty-year-old man naked != porn. Picture af ten-year-old naked != porn. Picture of either of said persons engaging in sexual acts or behaving provocatively = porn. "

          Yes, but since you're probably not one of the Finnish policemen in charge of this black list, nor are you one of the highly trained Kmart/Walgreens photo clerk employees, your definition of what "child porn" is -- probably highly suspect.

          • William Kelly was arrested in Maryland in 1987 after dropping off a roll of film that included shots his 10-year-old daughter and younger children had taken of each other nude.
          • David Urban in 1989 took photos of his wife and 15-month-old grandson, both nude, as she was giving him a bath. Kmart turned him in and he was convicted by a Missouri court (later overturned).
          • A gay adult couple in Florida decided to shave their bodies and snap their lovemaking, convincing a Walgreens clerk that one of them was a child. They are suing the Fort Lauderdale police.
          • More recently, Cynthia Stewart turned in bath-time pictures of her 8-year-old daughter to a Fuji film processing lab in Oberlin, Ohio. The lab contacted the local police, who found the pictures "over the line" and arrested the mother for, among other things, snapping in the same frame with her daughter a showerhead, which the prosecution apparently planned to relate somehow to hints of masturbation.
          • http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2000/01/31/kincaid/ [salon.com]

          .

          "That again: child running about naked on beach - NOT PORN. Child having sex or being filmed in a way intended to arouse the viewer - IS PORN, therefore far beyond questionable content. "

          Sure, but that has yet to be proven. This guy [lapsiporno.info] for instance has already received personal threats against him because his site is listed as a "child porn web site", and yet he doesn't have a single picture on his site -- he only compiled a list of web sites that were banned by this list (he simply used a scanner to obtain that information, and it turns out that 99% of those web sites listed do not contain child pornography according to him). Should he put in jail because of this so-called "questionable content"? Should he be branded as a sexual predator and a child porn peddler because of this personal expose?

          • by fatphil (181876)
            From your salon link - 2nd page:
            """
            Actually, given that the focus of the law has shifted from the photo to the reaction of the viewer, the wise technician will consult his or her loins: A turn-on means porn.
            """

            Using that logic, the only way that someone can report you for an offense is if he (or she) admits to being turned on by your kiddie porn? Woh!?!?
            • Using that logic, the only way that someone can report you for an offense is if he (or she) admits to being turned on by your kiddie porn? Woh!?!?

              This would be problematic because according to this mini-documentary [kinseyconfidential.org] BBC series done in conjunction with the Kinsey Institute. 100% of women will be turned on unwittingly by pretty much anything, even two monkeys having sex on a video screen (while most men don't get that). So if your photo clerk at Walgreens is going to be a woman, then you might get judged very

              • by fatphil (181876)
                If it's worth watching, it's worth watching a higher quality version - Mininova has a torrent for it, for example. Thanks for the link.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by KGIII (973947) *

      No? I think other cultures have different views than my own and I respect their views even though I don't agree with them. I think it is high time we stop trying to force our ethics on other people/cultures. This whole thing of "basic human rights" is just that, is it one side pushing their moral values onto a society that has different morals.

  • by luvirini (753157) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @08:27PM (#25181305)

    Though noone will likely die or even loose any large ammounts of money or similar due to this particular case, it should still be seen as a clear warning.

    As next time it might be something very important that gets accidentally blocked.

    Both a direct warning to use a ISP that does not do the filtering(all ISPs in Finland do not use it).

    And on second level a warning to reverse the clearly bad law where the Police is allowed to block sites without accountability and

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dvice_null (981029)

      > Though noone will likely die or even loose any large ammounts of money or similar due to this particular case

      They have already also blocked a site of several companies. Some which are not related to porn at all, but about 99% of the websites they block are legal porn-sites. Also a website who is making critique about this censorship and publishing a list of blocked but legal websites is blocked.

      It is quite interesting how little people are defending these legal porn sites. As if it is okay to block the

  • by maraz (637490) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:18PM (#25181557)

    1) Not all ISPs use DNS-based filtering - for example the aforementioned DNA Finland, which uses proxy-based filtering, which in turn is a lot more difficult to bypass.

    2) W3C is, AFAIK, still being blocked by MPY.

    3) On the first version of the list, less than 1% [kapsi.fi] of the sites were child pornography. Coincidently, a lot of the rest were gay porn.

    This is, of course, not at all related to the general opinion on gay people in Finland - in fact, we've already gone half a century without a single forced castration of a gay man!

    Boy, does my country make me proud or what.

    • by Lennie (16154)

      It's really easy to bypass a provider, use an other ! And that's exactly why I think this doesn't work.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      1) Not all ISPs use DNS-based filtering - for example the aforementioned DNA Finland, which uses proxy-based filtering, which in turn is a lot more difficult to bypass.

      Is this a configured proxy (you configure the browser to use a proxy) or is it a intercept proxy (the TCP traffic to some IPs or all IPs on port 80 or maybe also other ports is intercepted and passed to a proxy)? The former is, of course, easy to bypass, but is otherwise effective for all port numbers. The latter is harder but it can be done with the web site cooperation by using other port numbers (maybe even 443). Either way is expensive because that means a lot of proxy servers.

      Do their blocks apply t

      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        Intercept proxy which most likely only filters http. It can be circumvented by using an external proxy.

        • by Skapare (16644)

          Surely they would not be intercepting anything more than port 80. If porn web sites used other random port numbers they could bypass this. Pick a number that isn't needed on porn web site, but which ISPs would have big problems trying to intercept, such as 993 (it would break people accessing secure office email if they intercepted this).

  • by Skapare (16644) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:03PM (#25181793) Homepage

    How do they censor by domain name? Do they force/expect everyone to use the ISP proxy server? Do they force/expect everyone to use the ISP name server? Unless they block direct access, it should be easy enough for a user to get around. Of course most users would not know how. OTOH a lot of the really bad pr0n sites don't even use domain names. They use constantly changing IP addresses of proxies running on exploited home/office Windows computers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hydrofix (1253498)

      Yes they use a very simple domain name based cencorship that causes the ISPs' DNS servers to resolve cencored domain names to a machine (hosted by the ISP on the expense of the customers..) that only serves a very ugly "Cencorced by the National Bureau of Investigation" notice ( screenie [wikipedia.org]). It's extremely easy to bypass by editing /etc/hosts, running your own domain name server or using foreign servers like OpenDNS. It should be also noticed, that this cenorship is in its current form voluntary, but the gover

    • by TraxPlayer (63993)

      They change their dns to return the wrong ip which
      says that the site is blocked but they don't
      force you to use the ISP dns.

  • by Webmoth (75878)

    Every so often, some filters will block samba.org [samba.org] as being in the "Arts & Entertainment" category.

    Of course, if you listen to the folks in Redmond, Samba is just for entertainment anyway, not any serious work.

  • Sorry Guys, I accidentally typed w3c.org when what I what I mean to type was littleboylove.org..
  • by Skal Tura (595728) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @03:17AM (#25182899) Homepage

    Matti Nikki's website has been censored from almost the start because he has been speaking against this kind of censorship, and it's problems.

    One of the problems he claims is that it will be used against sites which do not distribute child pornography, activist websites, critical of the goverment, or otherwise "undesired" websites. This blacklist was entirely made for child pornography.

    His site got blacklisted, proofing the point. No action has been taken, and no one seems to care how Finland aswell is turning into a police state.
    To access his website, simply use OpenDNS.org nameservers.

      Finland is in a state of masqueraded communism, the taxes are highest in the world and living costs right up there too! For well above minimum wage job, you don't get even twice the amount of money to spend on things than on unemployment checks.

    I were born in Finland, and like living here very much indeed, even so much i've denied some REALLY good positions offered to me abroad and stayed in Finland. However slowly i'm starting to rethink the sensibility of staying in Finland, due to things like this blacklist.

    • "Finland is in a state of masqueraded communism, the taxes are highest in the world and living costs right up there too! For well above minimum wage job, you don't get even twice the amount of money to spend on things than on unemployment checks.

      I were born in Finland, and like living here very much indeed, even so much i've denied some REALLY good positions offered to me abroad and stayed in Finland. However slowly i'm starting to rethink the sensibility of staying in Finland, due to things like this black

      • by Skal Tura (595728)

        That blacklist IS mandatory for all ISPs.
        That blacklist IS being misused.

        The unemployment "benefit" alone is only one part of the aids you get. You are being simply stupid if you do not use the whole palette of the aids.

        As unemployed you get:
        * Unemployment payments
        * Subsidized rental
        * Social welfare payments

        Which equals to:
        After rent, electricity and some other necessities. case by case on internet, computer, phone. I know people who have got even all their furnishing from go

        • Before you accuse me of bullshitting, maybe you should check your own facts. It is NOT MANDATORY for internet service providers. The blacklist is shit, its proponents are disgusting, and a lot of voters are morons, but it is NOT MANDATORY, and it does not make Finland a "police state".

          And I really don't care whether you think those benefits are too much. The point is that it's not communism in disguise. Do you even know what communism is? (but apparently I'm the one who's "stupid")

          Your apartment prices

          • by Skal Tura (595728)

            do some fact checking, cheapest single apartment you will find is around 350-400euros.

            I've personally got twice lucky, 55½sqm for 445euros a month, while my GF was paying for OWNED apartment of 56sqm with full mortgage only interest being paid, first 390euros a month, and later on 460euros month as interest got raised and the housing co. raised their charge for maintenace at the same time. My next apartment 59sqm and 500euros a month.

            At the same time, my friend was paying 750euros a month for 65s

            • I searched for a few minutes, and found some pretty reasonable apartments for between two and three hundred. Some of the locations were remote, of course, but that doesn't matter, because this is beside the point. The taxes are heavy, and the social security system isn't perfect, but that doesn't make the country communist, and most people seem quite satisfied. I do actually live here and I must say you have a very peculiar understanding of the resources available to the average citizen.

              Apparently you al

              • by Skal Tura (595728)

                Then show these 200-300euros apartments by all means!

                Oikotie, Etuovi, Nettiasunto, Keltainen Porssi for example does not have them.

                I've seen a "grandma's cabin" going for 250euros a month. Is this what you mean? The landlord couldn't even tell the size, so i'm assuming around 10sqm. Same landlord was offering car trailers parked on a backyard for 150euros a month.

                That article you are quoting is over 7months old, as far as i know it is mandatory blacklisting, and that was the whole point of it.

    • Finland is in a state of masqueraded communism, the taxes are highest in the world and living costs right up there too! For well above minimum wage job, you don't get even twice the amount of money to spend on things than on unemployment checks.

      Some call this socialism, some call this social democracy. The fact is, however, that the social services were seriously cut down in the 90's and markets opened (although they already were open compared to real communist nations). Supporting the unemployed with worthwhile living standards doesn't make the country communist. For some reason the right wing parties are currently forming the government and if I had to choose with the regime being communist or fascist, I'd choose the latter. Trumping the individ

  • It looks as if we got what I've been dreaming for: Some huge cock-up in this secret censorshiplist of the police, where it is WELL beyond doubt that someone is pulling this list completely off their hat. This only goes to show that huge mistakes like this are all too easy to make and how it takes ages for someone to correct it. THIS is exactly why we need supervision over this kind of list and its makers.

    BTW, I'm very glad that at least the people of Finland are taking censorship seriously, whereas other eu

  • by Kizor (863772) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @07:15AM (#25183641)
    I'm a Finnish tech student and have been following this for a good long time now. Let me give a run-down of what's going on. Afterwards I have a very important question to ask - I'll add that as a reply.

    Finland is one of those modern first-world democracies that accords its citizens more freedom than the United States and is smug about it. Like many such states, Finland's government has been taking steps to change that. Case in point: From January 1st, 2008 onward, Finland's Federal Bureau has had the right to list child born websites for ISPs to block. This has been accused of being a sterotypical power grab (and some representatives are openly salivating at the prospect of expanding censorship), but more likely it's just stereotypical gross populism. There was no chance of defeating the bill that had a stated purpose of fighting child porn.

    Finland's geek population is united against censorship for a simple reason. It does not and cannot work. This has not been disputed - everyone and their mother has been trying to tell the lawmakers that, including the Federal Bureau before the law came to force. Effective Internet censorship is not possible without an effort on China's or Saudi Arabia's level, and even then Saudi Arabia's leaks like a sieve. I can think of four ways of circumventing Finland's without specialist knowledge, and I got a 1/5 out of my single network course. In fact everything about this is permeated by bureaucratic incompetence to the point that accusing W3C of child porn is not disproportionate. Not only does the censorship only target web pages, which I'm told make up a very small percentage of online child porn, there's no oversight, no way to appeal, and in several publicized cases, no effort to remove the material from the Internet.

    Matti Nikki is both a devoted proponent of online freedom and kind of a dick. He published a list of censored sites to prove that censorship makes them much easier to catch with an automated webcrawler without restricting access in any meaningful way. (Later examinations of this list suggest that it has a 2% accuracy rate, but happens to feature the first Google search results for "gay porn.") When Nikki converted the list into links, his site was censored. That is to say, a domestic text-only website was censored using a law that legalized the censorship of foreign child porn. BOOM! Organized resistance!

    Censorship made the evening news a couple of times, appeared in some newspapers and talk shows, and sparked one large geek demonstration back in March. "Google is a browser! Google is a browser!" we chanted, quoting the Bureau's chief on why Google has not been censored despite making child porn available as much as Nikki. We had no effect whatsoever. Okay, some ISPs have made censorship an opt-out system and maybe the Parliament will be wary about expanding it. Aside from that, I feel like the biggest achievement involved was me pissing off a bodyguard of the Minister of Communications with my taped-over mouth. Everything about the issue seems to be mired in its morass of utter incompetence that makes it meaningful debate impossible. For instance, the spokesman of a usually benign children-saving organization appeared in a debate and went on for minutes about the way censorship is a valuable statement of principles (as if making child porn strictly illegal wasn't enough) without ever addressing her opponent's statement that censorship does not work, cannot work, and does more harm than good to its cause. That debate sums up this whole sordid mess.

    Nowadays Finland's tech-savvy population is quietly simmering, and the local IT building's basement has had a poster of the Minister of Communications in a Nazi uniform since February with no complaints from the staff.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Finland's geek population is united against censorship for a simple reason. It does not and cannot work. This has not been disputed - everyone and their mother has been trying to tell the lawmakers that, including the Federal Bureau before the law came to force. Effective Internet censorship is not possible without an effort on China's or Saudi Arabia's level, and even then Saudi Arabia's leaks like a sieve. I can think of four ways of circumventing Finland's without specialist knowledge, and I got a 1/5 out of my single network course. In fact everything about this is permeated by bureaucratic incompetence to the point that accusing W3C of child porn is not disproportionate. Not only does the censorship only target web pages, which I'm told make up a very small percentage of online child porn, there's no oversight, no way to appeal, and in several publicized cases, no effort to remove the material from the Internet.

      I bet the problem with W3C is not that they host any child porn, or even any porn at all. Instead, W3C hosts technical details on protocols that would allow people, especially teens, to figure out how to bypass the blocking filters. Once someone learns about things like TCP and port numbers, they can figure out how to bypass things. For example, by using HTTPS, the proxy will have no idea what the host NAME is, since that is inside the encrypted protocol. All the proxy can do is pass on the TCP connecti

  • imagine it succeeds to block to all kiddie porn material on the web in a particular country. what happens ?

    local pedophiles turn to domestic resources, feeding a mafia to generate the content in-house for them.

    censorship doesnt work. the only way is to catch the culprits, the usual way. and thats one reason why you should NOT censor - is there any other great way to catch pedophiles than monitoring kiddie porn content usage ?

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