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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online Briefly Censored In Finland 115

k33l0r writes "The web site of W3C, or, 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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  • by luvirini ( 753157 ) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:27PM (#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

  • by jrothwell97 ( 968062 ) <jonathan.notroswell@com> on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:07PM (#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.

  • by maraz ( 637490 ) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:18PM (#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% [] 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 corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:42PM (#25181675) Homepage Journal

    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)

  • by plj ( 673710 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:01AM (#25183025)

    Thank you for your corrections. Some of the mistakes, like the extra commas, I noticed right away after posting (It's funny how you can never spot something in preview you spot right after posting). Some of them are clearly due to my tiredness, and my hastiness (I didn't really spend any time checking grammar to get the post out faster). Some are probably genuine mistakes.

    Many operators have also announced that they will make the filtering voluntary to their customers due to technical problems and negative publicity.

    Did they announce this to their customers, or will they make filtering voluntary to their customers? If the former, you need to rearrange as "Many operators have also announced to their customers that they will..." If the latter, "to" is the wrong word here. I'm not sure the best thing to replace it with.

    The latter is the right meaning, and the correct preposition is "for". Sorry for the ambiguousness.

    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).

    I suspect you got extra tired here.

    Indeed; at that point I just wished to finish the thing quickly.

  • by Kizor ( 863772 ) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @08:15AM (#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.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.