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Censorship Your Rights Online

It's Hard To Run a Blog In Sweden 299

mpawlo writes "Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt is being investigated by a prosecutor because of his blog. In a blog post, Mr. Bildt states that some 13.000 comments are posted (Swedish link) on his blog and that he and his staff try to erase all inappropriate comments. However, they apparently missed a comment proposing genocide of Palestinians. This prompted a Swedish leftist blogger to report the conservative foreign minister's blog and the comment to the authorities. Now a prosecutor is looking into the matter and the foreign minister will likely be held responsible for the comments due to poor Swedish legislation on freedom of speech relative to the Internet."
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It's Hard To Run a Blog In Sweden

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  • by PerlDudeXL ( 456021 ) <jens,luedicke&gmail,com> on Friday June 22, 2007 @03:51PM (#19612831) Homepage
    So apparently Sweden has the same problems with blogs and web-boards as Germany. Over here the
    blog/board owner can be held responsible for any offensive/illegal content posted by someone on
    the discussion board or comments. Even if the owner isn't aware of any such posting. This is called
    "disturbance liability". If he is sued and agrees to remove the incriminating content there are some
    stiff financial penalties if the poster is continuing.

    Some courts think it is technically possible to monitor a web-board with 200k comments per month
    like []
  • Re:Yowza. (Score:3, Informative)

    by KokorHekkus ( 986906 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @04:01PM (#19612975)

    ...if the blog host is making reasonable good faith efforts to remove inappropriate comments and missed one, it seems morally reprehensible to hold him responsible.
    Bingo. And he's not being held responsible... the problem is that the law rather untried at this point in time so the prosecutor needs to make a preliminäry investigation (in Swedish "förundersökning"). So pretty much: new law, more vigilance with the preliminary investigations until the legal situation has gelled a bit... which it does pretty fast since Sweden is Civil Law system where precedents carry much less weight than an Common Law systems because the more extended codification process in Civil Law.

    And I just wanted to point out that being a prosecutor in Sweden is not an elected official but a civil servant. (Not much lawyers in politics in Sweden actually)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @04:34PM (#19613413)
    This has been in the works for some time as he, in an interview on april 21th, has said he had seen the comments and thought they were unsuitable. But he didn't act on it as he doesn't think it's any use because they would still be in the archives (Google cache etc).

    Article in swedish [].

  • Re:Original source? (Score:3, Informative)

    by KokorHekkus ( 986906 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @04:39PM (#19613495)
    The link to the Wordpress blogg confirms it (albeit in Swedish) "...nås jag nu av informationen om att detta har lett till att en åklagare inlett förundersökning om brott." which translates to "... now I've been reached by the information that a prosecutor has begun a preliminary investigation if there has been a breech of the law".

    An english language site of swedish news is also has it at [].

    And no, politicians do not have immunity while in office here in Sweden (thank god). I belive the King has some limited immunity but that's about it.
  • by sfalc ( 822450 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @05:23PM (#19614093)
    It's all because of foolish requirements in the fifth and sixth section of the "Lag om ansvar för elektroniska anslagstavlor " , approximately translated, The Electronic bulletin board responsibility act.

    Which states that the provider is responsible for the comments if they obviously contains either illegal content (hate speech, child pornography, calls for riots) or
      illegally republished copyrighted content (i.e a very blatant copyright violation).

    And even if you didn't have the time to check all the comments or if you missed something, you are responsible, since you have been negligent ( sixth section).

    However even if he had been covered by the Freedom of the Press part of the Swedish constitution he would have been under investigation anyway, since hate speech is exempt.

    He will probably receive a small fine and that's the end of it.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @05:25PM (#19614125) Journal
    Sweden has hate speech laws in common with some other parts in Europe, but it's not illegal to host .torrent files because that has part a precedence in law, and part it's a legal grey area anyway. Because a .torrent file is not copyrighted so it would be some sort of "contributory infrigement" which they're still under investigation for (note that TPB has still neither been ruled guilty or not).
  • Re:How much... (Score:4, Informative)

    by skrolle2 ( 844387 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @05:54PM (#19614421)
    I can bet quite a lot.

    The blogger has somewhat of a grudge against our current right-wing government and writes about any setback or "scandal" with glee, and tries to manufacture scandal where there isn't one. But it's probably some other moron who posted the comments.

    Note that the stage this is in is that a prosecutor is investigating if they're even gonna bother pressing charges. Considering similar cases before, and considering the severity of the comments, absolutely nothing is going to happen, it's just the wet dreams of one blogger. Move along. Nothing to see here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @06:08PM (#19614543)
    Some background information:
    The comment on the foreign minister's blog was posted several months ago, and he had been notified through several sources and even been interviewed about it in radio. Then he said that he the comments were indexed by the search engines anyway, so it shouldn't matter if they were removed. According to Swedish law, a person that has a web site where other people can post comments is responsible for removing posts that contain illegal content - for example hate crime. (It could also have been child porn or some other illegal content.) Since the foreign minister was aware of the content (although he denies that now), he is to be examined (not yet brought to court) for this potential crime.

    The accusations against the foreign minister is not very strange from this perspective. One may argue that hate crime should not be illegal - but considering that it is - it is up to the owner of a blog to remove comments that are inappropiate. In Sweden, there is also laws that forbids people to lie about people to miscredit them for example.

    Mikael Pawlo (the poster) is a well known Swedish lawyer that I normally have a great deal of respect for, but in this case his posting is missing some vital information about the case.
  • by Betlo ( 1118973 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @06:20PM (#19614637)
    I've followed the development of this story for a while now.

    The blogger is Jinge of [] (Swedish) These comments have been on Carl Blidts blog since early april, for over two months now. During this time it has has been mentioned to him several times. He has been interviewed on both the news and the radio about them, without removing them. It is probably more because of incompetence then malice because he on the news said IIRC that he wanted to remove the comments but there was no point in doing it since they already were in "the cache".

    13000 comments is not much for a blog as old as Carl Bildt's. In comparison Jinge's blog has about 30000 comments all manually moderated before being visible on the blog. These particular comments were few and all in the same thread. The comments encouraged prosecution and/or extermination of the Palestinan people.

    These laws are seldomly used, but have been used in recent yers agiants hate speech advocating prosecution of and/or violence towards jews and homosexuals, and probably others that I can't remember right now.
  • English Translation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Barkmullz ( 594479 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @07:42PM (#19615409)

    Here is a [loose] English translation of the article

    Apparently our cleansing efforts of uncomfortable comments on this blog missed a few submissions from, in particular, one person - And via the media I have now been informed that this has caused a prosecutor to start a preliminary examination to see if a crime has been committed.

    In total, there are more than 13,000 comments, of varying type, on this blog. And during the last few months we have been trying to remove posts that were particularly inappropriate or insulting.

    As soon as we are notified about something we missed, we have removed it. However, it is clear we missed a contribution from a certain person early this year.

    Naturally, this is unfortunate. That this was not done on purpose is clear, because we have removed other comments in the past. The comments that we were notified about today were obviously removed immediately.

    That is how it is. After that the legal examination have to run its course.

    Where this will lead, I do not know. But I think it would be sad if it forced me to shut down this blog. And if I have to do that, it will most likely lead to other blogs being forced to do the same thing.

    However, we have not reached that stage yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @09:08PM (#19616041)
    The interesting thing is that the law concerning responsibility of electronic bulletin boards was enforced during the period when Carl Bildt was prime minister of Sweden.
    In those years (during the 90's) there was a hectic flame debate in Sweden about what responsibility a Sysop had over his/her BBS.

    After a couple of pro-nazi texts had circulated together with child pornography the state organisation Datainspektionen (you probably get what it means in english) decided that users are responsible but its up to the Sysop to moderate the BBS and thus is responsible for ensuring non-criminal acts on his/her BBS.

    This caused lots of protests in Sweden since many Sysops claimed they had no chance to moderate all topics and messages circulating on a BBS since they ran the bases on their spare time.

    The law passed and we have lived with it ever since and now the man who indirect was resposible of enforcing it suffers its backlash.

    The reason why the Pirate Bay is still up and running is that the laws of sweden does not declare the distribution of bit torrent links as violation against the copyright acts. Only if you distribute the actual films/songs/texts/etc you break the law. Not by only distributing links to the actual files.

  • by a_n_d_e_r_s ( 136412 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @04:58AM (#19618283) Homepage Journal

    Because inciting people to kill other people are not allowed in Sweden.

    Gettings someone to kill an specified person or any unspecified person of a certain group is prohibited in Sweden.

    The right to live are more important than the right to free speach in Sweden. Those that misuse the right to free speach to get people murdered and thus impose on others right to live are criminals.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito