Finnish Internet Censorship goes on

It is not mandated by law. Nobody needs to censorship anything. It's just something that the government and the police inofficially decided to do, and the ISPs have joined in - because no ISP wants to be known as the "kiddie porn ISP". There was just a brief discussion on whether it is legal for an ISP to block pages, but that was quickly circumvented by making a law which says it's okay to block kiddie porn (but nothing else).

But it's not just kiddie porn. All of the top-3 google hits for gay porn are also blocked (your google results may vary - some people have apparently found up to three pages worth of hits being blocked). It's probably an accident, but how do you know? Maybe there's someone who thinks homosexuality is evil in the force? Probably not, but it cannot be discounted. Many of the pages blocked allegedly contain only regular porn. (Don't know, I'm not that much into research.)

You see, the blocklist content is extremely super-secret, and its contents cannot be revealed. There is no way to know how exactly this list is compiled, who compiles it, and how you get off it. The thing is, it's pretty easy to build a bot, which automatically scans porn sites and finds out which pages are blocked. Which is exactly what Matti Nikki did, and published the list (785 domains and counting). I ran a quick check of the sites on the list against my spam folder, but couldn't find matches. The question is, if I did, would having those links (or maybe pics) on my hard drive be a crime? Technically, it would be possession. In practice, however, I never do check the contents of my spambox, I just skim it in case of false positives every few weeks, then delete the contents. But in the meanwhile, it could be filled with all kinds of crap. You could probably even make a Denial-of-Service attack on a person by spamming them with kiddie porn emails, then ratting on them.

The fun thing is that the only thing this is probably going to do is to create noise. The child pornography industry will not be touched by this (since there are trivial ways to go around this block). The people who browse for kiddie porn won't be caught. More and more pages will be added - on taxpayer money - and the porn sites keep changing faster. Hey, think about this: if the DNS blocks used by the police blocklist really worked, we would never see spam.

But it is really difficult to talk about this. Any word against this blocking will be read as waving the flag for child molestation. "Why are you so interested in this - are we bothering your hobbies?" they may ask. But that's how it starts. The copyright industry has already suggested that the blocklists should be used to block sites which contain illegally distributed material. Sounds fair, doesn't it? It's illegal, so what's the harm? Then come questions about borderline cases - and it's always easier to be quiet. Soon, you realize you can't access this blog, because I used to have the word "masturbation" in my tagline - it's already happened.

Things change. Moral codes are different - many people across the globe would consider normal Finnish sauna pictures child pornography. You take pics of your kids bathing, store them on your laptop, and go to jail if someone decides to go through your laptop at the border crossing.

These things need to be discussed out in the open. My hat's off to Matti Nikki for taking this as public as he has. We can't just cower below our tables and trust that the police protects us from the evil internets. They can't. Nobody can.




Comments

It is actually top4 links in google (least for me), but Matti propably played safe and wrote 3. I tried to write something in finnish about the gay sites, but it sucked so i wrote some random thoughs here.

What i quick checked those top4 gay sites are "frontpage galleries" which are aggregating pictures from other sites. By frontpage 2 sites were clearly adultporn, one was generic site where is everything from teens to granpas and one was teen gay porn site (people in pics were probaply 18+ or so). By Netcraft info sites were created between 1997, 2003, 2003 and one in 2007. Also by Netcraft they were owned in USA, Austria, Netherlands and Germany. Physical location of the webhosts were in Netherlands and USA. Alexa ratings were between 6000-25000 so they werent that popular, but known anyway.

So what we learn about this? All those four are existed for some time by now and are owned and located in countries where is illegal to do commerical porn with people under 18 (like in all EU and USA it is) and where is working "western" justice system. Ok, USA is little bit shady, but they used to kidnap people and they could wiretap SWIFT in their war against terrorists, so i think that they can handle couple pornsites. So why those site's arent closed by our fellow EU countries or USA if there is child porn and if there is not childporn why they are blacklisted by our police?

And the very much bigger question is that why in the hell all over western countries we are building walls like no good secret national childporn filtering systems when it is problem with global co-operation of police and other agencies.

--Zache, 09-Jan-2008


You took the feet out of my mouth, Zache. I would much rather spend the money on hunting the criminals, and hammers and nails to attach the porn salesmen's dicks to blocks of wood.

--JanneJalkanen, 09-Jan-2008


Didn't I comment on this? I thought I did...

--Kari Haakana, 09-Jan-2008


No, I think you've just been commenting on mysterious rocks.

--JanneJalkanen, 10-Jan-2008


OK.

The List can be accessed by independent ombusdman (what the heck is eduskunnan oikeusasiamies in English? Well, by that guy anyway). So if there's is something wrong with The List (beside the obvious), someone should make a complaint (http://www.oikeusasiamies.fi/Resource.phx/eoa/kantelu/kantelu.htx).

I checked my no 1 Google hit (Horny Greek) via anon proxy. Looked like plain vanilla gay tgp to me. No child porn anywhere, though some models looked young and ads used words "boys" and "teens". Which of course is SOP on any porn site.

--Kari Haakana, 10-Jan-2008


No need for anonymous proxies... Just use a real ISP like Nebula - they don't block anything (yeah, just tried :-), give you real IP's with reverse DNS and have ~10 minute helpdesk response time 24/7 (my problems get resolved in 10 minutes, even after midnight). Elisa tried three months to get a working DSL connection here (in the middle of Tikkurila) with no luck - Nebula got it working in 5 minutes. And Sonera is just as bad as Elisa. Saunalahti is the same as they're part of Elisa now. And Welho.... they sucked even when the others didn't.

So, in all honestly, you're only have yourself to blame if you're using Elisa/Sonera/Welho.

And hey, I'm not even related to Nebula in any way, I'm just another happy customer.

--Kim, 10-Jan-2008


I wonder what would happen if someone actually started really to complain that the sites do not actually contain kiddie porn? Over 700 sites right now - wouldn't that essentially clog up the entire ombudsman office?

--JanneJalkanen, 10-Jan-2008


Propably nothing, because everybody is most likely happy to sensorship even those pictures which isn't kiddie porn. What i checked The List, the gay and 18+ teen pictures was pretty much the most positive experiences what one can find there. Rest is pretty much stuff what makes you want get internet sensorship even if they arent kiddieporn, but even less i like that there is secret morale police who is choosing what is right and what is wrong. Funny thing is that if the list would be public and one could freely to choose to use it I would propably use it, because it makes the internet safer. Now when it is secret it just makes society worse.

Anyway i wrote something about The List in finnish. http://internet-on-mobiili.blogspot.com/2008/01/moraalipoliisi.html

--Zache, 11-Jan-2008


But what about the program Nikki wrote? I don't seem to be able to find anything (besides my Finnish fails me). Could it possibly be a tool other people could run against their ISPs to get to know of any possible URL blacklists? I was just thinking that would revolutionize dealing with all sorts of censorship dumbfucks.

--AnonymousCoward, 16-Feb-2008


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