Civil Liberties

Censorship in the Land of Cloudberries


Finland has a secret list of blacklisted sites that are not accessible through Finnish servers. The blocked sites are supposed to be child pornography only, but (surprise!) the list of banned sites was recently expanded to include a critic of the government's policy who published a list of the sites, which he says includes other legal sites as well:

Now the censorship list has been appended with a site called [translates to] that is maintained by a Finnish Internet activist Matti Nikki. The site does not contain child pornography, but articles that criticise censorship and a list of blocked IP addresses.

Leena Romppainen, a member of the Effi board wonders: "If the site really had some illegal content, wouldn't the correct solution be to take the site down and take the site owner to the court? The site is located on a Finnish server and the name of the site owner appears visibly on the root page of the site."

Think this sort of thing only happens to crazy foreigners? Think again:

The United States had its own close encounter with a secret blacklist of ostensible porn sites in the form of a Pennsylvania statute that coerced Internet providers into blocking access to certain Web sites the government didn't like. In 2004, a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional, noting that "there is an abundance of evidence that implementation of the Act has resulted in massive suppression of speech protected by the First Amendment."

All's well that ends well in the Pennsylvania case, but you'd think we'd know by know that secret government blacklists can get pretty messy.

Via reason contributor Declan McCullagh