Internet “child porn” censorship in Finland

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation maintains a secret list of “child pornography” sites. Some major Finnish ISPs, although currently not required by law to do so, do block access to sites on this list.

The blocking, which is performed on the DNS level, has been criticized, especially since lapsiporno.info (“childporn.info”), a site discussing the practice (mirrors, 1, 2) was added to the list of blocked sites, despite the fact that only sites hosted outside of Finland are allowed to be blocked.

Electronic Frontier Finland has summarized the situation in English, as has the Finnish National Broadcasting Company, the biggest daily newspaper in Finland and the maintainer of lapsiporno.info. As far as user contributed media is concerned, Wikinews  and Wikipedia both have very comprehensive entries about the case.

The law related to the issue is available in Finnish and Swedish, and the message displayed in place of the blocked sites looks like this (hosted by Saunalahti, an ISP).

Edit: I added links to more articles and improved the quality of the text.

This blog entry and comments posted to this page has a different license than the rest of this site,
Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Finland License.

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13 Comments

  1. Anon says:

    i dont care if they are blocking child porn sites. why do you want to see child porn? that’s disgusting and illegal. complaining about this is like whining that they keep shutting down meth labs preventing one from obtaining meth. am i missing something here?

  2. Anon: To sexually exploit children is a horrible thing to do, but it doesn’t change the fact that Internet censorship is broken as a concept, especially when performed in a simple, inexpensive, and ridiculously ineffective and inaccurate way like crippling DNS. This form of censorship creates the illusion that some brave decision maker is saving exploited kids, while the only thing being done is utterly disgusting harvesting of low hanging “I care about the Children”-fruit. People who want to obtain child porn will definitely not be stopped by anything like this.

    Censorship in any form is a very dangerous thing to get into… especially if it’s performed by people like the Finnish authorities who in this case operate against the law, by blocking sites that have nothing whatsoever to do with child pornography or are located inside Finland. How long will it take before other inconvenient or controversial material is deemed unsuitable for the Internet?

    If you at all care about stopping the people who produce child pornography, go and do something about crime organizations that perform human trafficking, by addressing the issues causing these people to have such a lot of influence.

    On the other hand, ignoring the few people who understand modern technology and trying to cripple the greatest communication tools ever invented by pulling out ridiculous domestic policies of the asses of clueless moralists, will do you no good in any fight against anything evil. Such behavior will only breed a culture where free speech is undesired and problem solving is done by making the symptoms invisible.

  3. Anon: to read more about the current topic and the technical issues behind it, take a look at this interview on p2pnet.

  4. Finn says:

    I’m not totally against the idea, but it’s impossible to implement the filter properly. The current implementation is damaging. Now it’s very easy to generate a list of the best child porn sites in the Internet, all hand picked by the Police. It also makes pedophiles more interested in technology (how to bypass the filter with Tor etc.) and thus harder to catch.

    A lot more than 50 % of the sites do not contain any child porn, probably not even links to such sites. Yes, links are censored too. For some reason many gay porn sites are blacklisted, such as Google’s first hits with the keyword “gay porn”.

    There’s only one person handling this blacklist and she doesn’t have enough resources to manage a project of this magnitude. In short, the filter should be thought as a test that proved that censorship doesn’t work.

  5. Bengt says:

    The problem is that the list have nothing to do about child pornography at all. The method used here is not new but is just as despicable today as it have been in the past.

    1. Find a crime or activity that every sane individual must be opposed to (child pornography)
    2. Find a perpetrator that everyone wants to ban from society (pedophiles)
    3. Find a victim or value related to points 1 and 2 that everyone wants to protect at all costs (children)
    4. Now you have a very strong excuse to take whatever action you want and all protests against those actions can be met with arguments that is impossible to defend against and immediatly kills the discussion.
    “Why do you want to see child porn”, “Are you a pedophile?”, “Think of the children!”.
    Practical, isn’t it…

    The important thing to remember is that this have nothing or very little to do with the actual crime, it is just an excuse for something else! In this case it is about control of information that is seen as “inapproriate”, including but not limited to threats or critique against actions of those with political and economical power. That they wanted to add thepiratebay to the list in sweden is an example of this.

    This is actually a very natural development as it is now possible to communicate between ordinary citizens in a way that never have been possible before, control of this informationchannel is therefor vital in the eyes of those that have had the control of the previous informationchannel. The same thing happened on Gutenbergs time.

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