Bad cops

Posted by – February 15, 2008

The Finnish authorities are escalating their frenzied, idiotic and menacing action over “child porn”. The story so far:

Last year the Ministry of Communication instructed the police to compile and maintain a list of web addresses containing child pornography to be given to Internet service providers to block. The Ministry assured the public that the list would not block entire domains or IPs, just single urls. The decision-making regarding what goes on the list was to be transparent. In particular, no Finnish sites would be censored, because in those cases the police can just use normal means to physically shut illegal sites down.

As censorship started appearing, Matti Nikki, who maintains a website critical of censorship, ran a computer program to scan the Internet for sites that were redirected to the police’s “this page is blocked” -notice. He posted the output of this program on his website. Most sites on the list appear to contain only legal porn. Some contain child porn.

Then, Nikki’s site itself goes on the censorship list. Soon sites that appear to have no connection whatever to porn of any kind are blocked. The police does not comment on any of this.

And now the real bullying starts: as criticism of the police’s behaviour has mounted, Nikki is requested to appear for interrogation at the Helsinki police’s violent crime unit (I think this is because they also deal with sex crimes). He has been informed that he will be questioned as a suspect in the crime of “accessory to the dissemination of an improper image”.

Note: his only possible crime here has been to inform the public about what is being censored. The police has indicated that posting even a single link to a page that is suspected to contain child porn is grounds for censorship, and now this apparently also justifies groundless threats (because that’s what they are!) from the police force. Emphasis: Nikki isn’t suspected of anything that I, for example, haven’t done. If they could be bothered, the Finnish police would feel themselves justified in censoring this blog. Nikki is suspected of being a criminal for posting the list of websites on the censorship list, one of which I posted earlier.

If you care about freedom, care about this. Become a member of Electronic Frontier Finland. If there’s a protest about this, go protest. Stay informed about this case, and about civil liberties and privacy on the Internet in general. It’s important, and it’ll be even more important in the future.

0 Comments on Bad cops