The Police threatens maintainers of Finnish anti-censorship mirrors

A seemingly never ending series of absurd statements from officials continued yesterday, as Detective Chief Inspector Lars Henriksson from the National Bureau of Investigation commented the ongoing debate over Internet censorship in Finland. He threatened maintainers of mirrors of the wrongfully censored anti-censorship site (mirror) with possible legal actions. The censorship is made possible by a poorly prepared law encouraging ISPs to block access to sites listed as child pornography in a secret document maintained by the Police.

The Finnish Police Forces feel that the site and its mirrors are spreading child pornography by maintaining a list of known blocked sites. Still, the Police have failed to follow normal investigative procedures to shut down and confiscate the hardware: there seem to be strong doubts over the illegality of the site. That’s no surprise, most blocked sites on this list is legal porn hosted in the EU and USA.

Tietokone, a Finnish IT magazine, quotes Detective Chief Inspector Henriksson (English translation by yours truly):

“Those who maintain this kind of pages [mirrors of] should now consider, and ask a legal adviser, what a wise decision would be.”

“The matter can be discussed in a more sensible manner”

“We’ll take one step at a time. everything can’t be done at once. It remains to be seen what’s ahead.”

Why is this experienced and respected(?) member of  the Finnish law enforcement recommending maintainers of mirrors to to seek legal counseling? Why are ISPs blocking a site when the originating server could be removed easily, if there were any legal grounds for doing so? And what part of publicly speaking against this sort of behavior is not perfectly sensible?

As I reported yesterday, the lack of any legal arguments for removal didn’t help a student whose access to IT systems necessary for him to perform his studies was suspended due to him keeping a mirror of on his personal web space. TKK, the university where this happened, apparently supports censorship.

Additionally, Chief Inspector Lars Henriksson said in a phone conversation with an activist recorded last week, that Google shouldn’t be blocked even if it links to sites blocked as “child porn” by the Police. I’ve translated a part of the conversation:

Caller: “Why hasn’t Google been censored, these links are there, aren’t they?”
Chief Inspector Henriksson: “Well, it’s not a site, it’s a browser.”
Caller: “Then, what difference is there from a www-technical standpoint?”
Chief Inspector Henriksson: “Err, if a site works like a portal to child porn sites, these blocking measures can be applied, according to this law.”

Google: “Se on selain” - “It’s a browser”
In addition to not being familiar with very basic IT terminology, at least not when confronted over the phone, Henriksson doesn’t understand that both Google’s search results and the list on are the output of programs crawling the web (mirror). Where and how should the inappropriateness of the rules be discussed, if not by exposing the flawed blocking practices on a website?

The likes of Henriksson, undoubtedly hardened by dealing with hideous products of child pornography creators, should be able to grasp reasonable technical arguments, even in debates with topics like child porn. Misguided censorship operations are slimy things to get into, especially when the people in power and the electorate lack the knowledge to consider the implications of any suggested solution. Concerns raised by Finnish activists and recent statements from certain freedom hating interest groups suggest that censorship may be expanding soon: even the outside world has noticed this.

Censorship at the gates of service providers, using simple domain name server amputation or expensive proxy server systems that the people will have to pay for as customers or tax payers, is the same thing as what China and Saudi-Arabia among others are doing to “protect” their citizens. Confusing such authoritarian nonsense with valid actions against those who keep child porn on their servers is very dishonest.

If your geographic location allows you to do so, please join the demonstration against Internet censorship in Finland next Tuesday (2008-03-04) in Helsinki. For more info, see the website of the event.

Thomas Nybergh | thomas [ät]
cell: +358400843172


  1. Leo Lahti says:

    Thanks of the excellent summary. Just to mention, the official engilsh acronym for Helsinki University of Technology is nowadays TKK, not HUT. Howwever, I wouldn’t have sent this note unless I wouldnät have wanted to thank of the good article.

  2. Leo: Thanks for reading and for noticing the acronym, it’s been fixed now. I must admit that I’m pleased with the text myself, but I spent some writing it.

  3. Platon says:

    Seaniehunter on youtube has problems too with the Nazi mentality of the Finnish police. By the way only 1,8% of the people who write to the Finnish ombudsman get any help.
    Most ( 5 out of 6 ) don’t get even a reply.
    Only sites that have child porn should be blocked and links leading to those child.
    Exposing how the police has been blocking 98,5% of the sites on their blacklist wrongly is perfectly legal and the police is braking the law but this is perfect ” legal ” within a fascist police state.

  4. aj_m says:

    good news? just looking :/

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