Censorship isn't really about freedom of speech

(Short recap: Finland is using secret, police-made lists to block foreign child pornography web sites. Unfortunately, the list has been proven to be wildly inaccurate, and its legality and efficiency have been heavily questioned.)

A lot of people (me included) have been talking about the internet block-lists as a freedom of speech-issue. To be precise, this is not exactly true. Because the sites are blocked at the ISP level, this means that they will still be there. People are totally free to write whatever they want - it's just that someone will choose what other people can read. A subtle distinction, but important nevertheless.

You see, I think it sends out a dangerous message. These block lists are saying that "yes, it's okay to rape and pillage and do whatever you want to minors, as long as nobody else knows about it." And this is exactly the wrong thing to say. We should expose these atrocities, and make sure that the web sites themselves are permanently shut down, and the people responsible taken to justice, not try to hide the fact that this sort of stuff is happening in the first place.

The unfortunate thing is that block lists are cheap for the government. They require half a person to maintain, and the actual cost of filtering is born by the operators - but even that is mostly a one-time cost, which can be amortized over a longer time. Finnish police is facing losses of 600-700 jobs until 2015, because their work needs to be more "efficient". Efficient in government lingo meaning doing the same job for less money, not better results.

This is the result of this "efficiency" demand. With respect to the internet, we will get the cheap and "efficient" alternative. It looks like something is being done, so that the people can feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they are told that the kiddie porn is gone from the internets, and the police is protecting you. But in reality, the illegal activity keeps going on and growing.

When you can't hear the cries of the children, you can't help them. When you don't know someone is in peril, you can't care about them. This is why blocking is bad, and being pro-blocking is actually damaging the children. If anything, people should be demanding more money to the police to help fight international crime instead of just nodding blithely at the eradication of our constitution at the interests of "efficiency".

(France is now, by the way, extending their child pornography blocks to information on making explosives or chemical weapons, terrorist propaganda and racial hate speech. It is only a matter of time before Finland follows. We wouldn't want to be pro-hate speech, now would we?)


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"Main_blogentry_100308_1" last changed on 10-Mar-2008 10:38:17 EET by JanneJalkanen.
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