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The Finnish Supreme court rules on blocking anti-censorship site

28 August, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Finnland: Entscheidung über die Zensur einer Anti-Zensur-Website

On 26 August 2013, the Finnish Supreme Court ruled it was legal to censor a website listing domain names of sites that are currently blocked even if the site itself doesn’t host or link to illegal content.

The ruling comes in the case of Matti Nikki’s website which was added by the Finnish police on the list of websites to be filtered because it exposed the blocked links. Matti challenged the decision in court and in 2011 a Helsinki court ruled that his site should not be blocked. Yet, this decision was now overturned by the Supreme Court which argued that, in this case, the society’s obligation "to protect the children" supersedes freedom of speech.

The site’s aim was to address the flaws in Finland’s secretive child porn filter system and to show that secret blocking initiatives are not the best solution in dealing with online child pornography. “It has been my belief that censorship isn’t any kind of solution to child porn, and I actually believe it’ll only worsen the situation as it’ll give a reason for the people involved to tighten their security and anonymity,” said Matti.

As the process of blocking the sites is secret and the list of blocked sites has never been officially made public, Matti also included on his website a list of hundreds of URLs that are blocked under the filter. This was what triggered the Supreme Court’s decision. The court’s argument was that by allowing to remain accessible, other sites could circumvent the blockade as well by adding illegal content to their websites. The Court waved away the argument that the site is not covered by the blocking legislation, which applies to foreign sites only, since it lists domains of foreign sites.

It didn’t even matter that Nikki's site is hosted in Finland. The court considered that as it contains links to foreign child porn sites, the legislation should also apply to Nikki's site.

The website will therefore remain blocked by most ISPs in Finland. However, it will be accessible to the rest of the world, hosted on a Finnish server.

The case opens a dangerous path. Based on the argumentation of this case, any site mentioning another allegedly “illegal” site might end up on a filtering list.

Finnish Court Censors Website That Criticizes Censorship (26.08.2013)

Finnish court: It is alright to censor a website that criticizes censorship (26.08.2013)

EDRi-gram: Finland: Blocking of domestic websites ruled illegal (1.06.2011)



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