Finland labels Princess Galyani portrait kiddie porn-Effi

February 21, 2008

[FACT comments:  Electronic Frontiers Finland (Effi) was one of the earliest international supporters of FACT’s petition against all censorship. The current censorship situation in Finland now, uncannily, mimics almost precisely the development of Internet censorship in Thailand. Even the number of sites blocked initially is very similar to our figures of 2004.

The Finnish blocklist is secret…as is Thailand’s. Whole domains are arbitrarily blocked in Finland…as in Thailand. Many websites blocked are collateral damage in Finland…as in Thailand. Proper oversight to Finnish censorship has not been applied so that quirky Websites for hearing aids, teachers, musical instruments, dolls, computer repair and gay rights are blocked…as they are in Thailand.

What would never occur Thailand is seeing our fond memorial image of the late HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana at age 84 blocked as child pornography!

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) demands an immediate apology by the Finnish government to the Royal Family, the Thai people and the Thai government, all of  whom are still in mourning for the Princess’ death.

FACT respectfully requests the Prime Minister of Thailand, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Culture make diplomatic protest over this thoughtless, unforgivable slight to the Thai throne.

Lese majeste is a serious crime in Thailand, punishable by 15 years imprisonment. FACT demands that lese majeste charges be filed immediately against the Finnish government authorities responsible.

FACT demands the Thai Ambassador to Finland  be recalled immediately in protest. Breaking diplomatic relations with Finland would not be too severe a lesson for such an insult to Thai monarchy.

We often think of ourselves here in Thailand as an emerging democracy and look to the Scandinavian countries in particular as protecting freedoms above all. Once censorship takes poisoned root, it is very difficult for government to back down.

The Finnish situation demonstrates a classic paradox: if some censorship is good (and who can deny that child pornography must be bad?), then more must be better. Censors never know where to stop.

The secret Finnish blocklist follows…]

effi-logo1.png

Finnish Internet censorship
Electronic Frontiers Finland: February 18, 2008

Recent developments have occurred in Finnish Internet censorship. The Finnish police censors much more than was originally intended.

There’s been a big controversy about Internet censorship in Finland: A law was passed which allows police to maintain lists of child porn sites, but it turned out (not surprisingly) lots of sites with no child porn on them have been added to the list, including a site criticizing the censorship.

For Thais in particular it might be interesting that at least one big Thai web portal, thaimisc.com, has been blocked entirely, with the effect that lots of Thais are in effectively labeled as child pornographers even when they are nothing of the kind.

That includes the image of your recently deceased princess at the front page of http://www.thaimisc.com/.

Thais must certainly find that most offensive.

Please help our campaign against Internet censorship here, and getting this into news in Thailand would be helpful – please post as widely as possible to Thai media, Weblogs and message boards.

For more information of the events in Finland see
http://www.effi.org/blog/police_blames_usa_for_childporn.html
and
http://www.effi.org/blog/kai-2008-02-18.html
(the latter has all the gory details and links to even more info). [FACT: Links follow this article.]

The Finnish police maintains a secret block list of web sites allegedly containing child pornography, pursuant to a law passed late 2006. The purpose of the law is to prevent the access to the foreign sites that contain child pornography.

Most of the censored sites are located in the United States or EU countries. Many of the censored sites have turned out to be apparently legal pornographic sites. Some of the censored sites are not pornographic sites at all.

The censorship list has been recently augmented with a Finnish site called lapsiporno.info that is maintained by an Internet activist Matti Nikki. The site does not contain any pornography, let alone child pornography, but articles that criticise censorship and a list of blocked domains. Nikki has been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s net censorship project.

After a public outcry on the censorship practices the police decided to suspect Nikki of aiding the distribution of material violating sexual chastity. They called him for questioning on Wednesday 20 February 2008.

This article gives a summary of Internet censorship in Finland and an overview of recent developments in English.

What is censored
The list of censored web sites is supposedly secret. However, due to the implementation of the censorship mechanism, described more in detail later, it has been possible to find and study the censored sites.

The censorship supposedly applies only to foreign web sites that are used to distribute child pornographic images and the block list indeed reportedly contains such sites.

However, many of the censored sites are apparently legal pornographic sites. Most of the censored sites are located in the United States or in the EU countries which have strict legislation against child pornography. Many of the censored US sites contain the 18 U.S.C. 2257 notice.

Many of the blocked sites are link farms, without actual independent image content. The block list reportedly contains disproportionately many gay sites.

The censorship however extends not only to the adult sites. For example, the following sites are censored:

* THC hearing aid devices
* IT consulting service for teachers
* Music instrument store
* Doll store
* Computer repair service
* Windows tips in Thai
* Data Management and Biostatistics Network Journal Guestbook
* English and Thai discussion of gay rights (no images!)

thaimisc-com-original-small.png

The Finnish police also censor the site http://www.thaimisc.com, root page of which is shown in the figure above. The root page appears (even though I don’t understand the Thai text) to be set up in honour of the late HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand. This is not a proud moment to be a Finn.

The case of Matti Nikki
Matti Nikki (Muzzy) is an Internet activist who is remembered by many of his analysis of the Sony BMG DRM spyware. Nikki maintains an Internet site lapsiporno.info (translates as “childpornography”.info). The site contains a list of the censored sites and critical articles of Internet censorship. The site does not contain any pornography at all.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) added Nikki’s site to the block list on or about 12 February 2008. The NBI refused to comment the reasons for the blocking, but they said that generally speaking a site may be blocked if it contains even one link to alleged child pornographic site.

Previously the list of censored sites on Nikki’s site had just the names of the sites, not links. To enter a censored site one had to copy the site name to the address bar of the browser. The site was censored after Nikki had made the names of the sites clickable links (after which there was no need to manually copy the site names to the address bar of the browser).

According to the police FAQ (in Finnish) the block list includes sites with “a working link to a site containing child pornography”. There is however no apparent legal basis for the distinction between not censoring a site with a written site name of an alleged child pornographic site, and censoring a site with the corresponding clickable link.

Nikki had published the block list because it is the only way to publicly evaluate the censorship practices. According to Nikki, most of the censored sites are in fact legal pornographic sites. A member of the parliament that checked Nikki’s list of censored sites confirmed that the block list contains many sites that are apparently legal adult sites, with no child pornographic content.

The censorship of Nikki’s sites caused a public outcry. A legal Finnish web site had been censored. If Nikki’s site really had some illegal content, the correct thing to do would have been to obtain a take down order from the court, as the web server is located in the Finland and information of the owner of the site is given clearly at the root page of the site. There was indeed no reason to censor the site.

After the public outcry the case started to look really bad for the NBI. On or about 15 February 2008 the police announced that they would like to question him of suspected aiding of the distribution of material violating sexual chastity (according to the criminal code the material violating sexual chastity is images presenting children, violence or animals in sexual context; the investigation had apparently been delegated from NBI to the Helsinki police).

Without knowing any details, a good guess is that the police suspects that having a clickable link to a web site allegedly containing child pornographic images is equivalent to aiding the distribution of such images. [FACT: USA is currently trying to make website owners legally liable for material they link to.] The blocked sites listed on Nikki’s site should of course be inaccessible for the people that have a Internet connection that implements the block list (even if they clicked the links, assuming that the blocking is effective in practice).

On same grounds the police could probably also call search engines such as Google, Microsoft Search and Yahoo for questioning.

How the censorship works
An unnamed official (or officials, nobody knows for sure) at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) classifies a web site as a “child pornography site” and adds it to the secret block list. The police has announced that the site does not need to have any images to be added to the block list. It is enough if the site contains only one link to a site allegedly containing child pornographic images. The NBI has declared that the second degree linking, for example, the news sites linking to Nikki’s site, will not be censored.

According to the NBI, the block list contains about 1700 sites.

Apparently the police do not try to contact the site Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the owner of the censored site, even if the site owner would be known (although due to the secretive administrative practices of the block list it is difficult to say how exactly the list is administered and who, if any, is contacted). This is strange, because most Internet service providers would certainly react to valid announcements of child pornography sent to their abuse desk address.

The censorship is applied equally to all clients of the ISP. There is no way to opt-out (although circumventing the censorship is technically easy).

It is not clear how censored sites may to be removed from the block list. As far as we can tell the sites are never removed, unless someone complains to the email address given by the police and the police judges that the site is no longer a “child pornographic site”. There is apparently no way to appeal this judgement.

Appealing the judgement may be difficult in the first place because the list is secret (you may not know that you have been censored) and the police refuses to reveal the listing criteria for individual sites on the grounds of the secrecy of the list (you may not know why you have been censored). It is also unclear who would pay damages or how to demand punishment for a loss of income or defamation due to an incorrect block list entry.

The police send the block list to selected ISPs at regular intervals. Most of the ISPs that implement the block list then block the access to these sites using a domain name system (DNS) based blocking mechanism; some ISPs reportedly use intercepting proxy server to do the filtering. The ISPs are required by law to keep the block list secret.

The censorship is very coarse. Whole web servers are blocked. A web server of a large Internet Service Provider can serve thousands of sites belonging to different customers.

For example, let’s assume someone posts a message containing a link to an alleged child pornographic site to a message board maintained by one of these customers. The message appears on the site for a day, after which the maintainer of the message board removes the message as inappropriate.

If the NBI happens to check the site during the brief period when the offending message is visible they may censor the whole site for undetermined time. For the same reason sites with lots of user-generated content are at risk: it may be enough that one user posts some inappropriate content to get the whole site censored. The potential for collateral censorship is huge.

POLICE. ENTRY DENIED.
Announcement by the police that a web site you tried to access has been censored.

When a client’s web browser sends a request for a domain name server (DNS) of an Internet (IP) address of a censored site the DNS does not return the actual IP address of the censored server but an IP address of the ISP’s server that contains an announcement that the site has been blocked. [FACT: Called a transparent proxy.]

Instead of the censored site, the client is shown an announcement of the following kind (translated from Finnish; see the screen below for the original announcement, as shown at the Nikki’s site):

filtered-small.png

POLICE.
ENTRY DENIED.

Your browser has tried to access a site for which the access has been prevented due to the act on preventive measures on distribution of child pornography. The police maintains and updates a list of these child pornography sites. It is punishable to possess or distribute images on these sites. For the police these images are evidence of sexual crimes against children.

Any messages on the issue can be sent the National Bureau of Investigation, email address krp-nettiesto@krp.poliisi.fi

From this link you can read the criminal code related to the child pornography.

In other words, the police claims that a blocked site contains child pornographic images, even though this is not necessarily true – even according to the police a single web link is sufficient to get a whole site blocked, no images are required.

The announcement page contains just the email address (which reportedly even did not work originally).

There is no other contact information or information about who is in charge of the block list.

How the censorship can be circumvented
The censorship is easy to circumvent with minimal technical skills. It is sufficient to use some other domain name server than that of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as OpenDNS, or a third party web proxy server.

The implementation of the censorship mechanism makes it possible to find out what is on the supposedly secret block list. One can for example implement a web crawler that sends a domain name request of the crawled sites to the ISP’s name server. If the name server returns the address of the ISP’s announcement server then the domain name is censored. Getting a partial snapshot of the block list this way is possible for all customers of the ISPs that implement the censorship.

Most of the supposedly secret block list has in fact been published in several venues.

Is the censorship legal?
The Constitution of Finland, section 12, guarantees the freedom of expression. Censorship is absolutely forbidden by the constitution, except that there may be restrictions relating to pictorial programmes that are necessary for the protection of children.

The censorship is implemented pursuant to the act on preventive measures on distribution of child pornography, passed late 2006 (law in Finnish).

The law authorizes the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to maintain a secret block list of foreign web sites that distribute child pornographic images. The law is supposed to be a final resort to block the access to sites that can’t be taken down by conventional judicial means, such as by a take down order issued by the court of law.

According to the statement by the Faculty of Law of the University of Turku during the drafting of the law, submitted on request to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the act on preventive measures on distribution of child pornography violates the constitution.

There was however a strong political pressure to appear to be doing something to the child pornography in the Internet. The law was rushed through the parliament with no opposition as an ordinary law, disregarding the possible unconstitutionality. (It is possible to make laws that contradict the constitution, but such laws should be passed as constitutional laws with 5/6 majority at the parliament, or 2/3 majority at two consecutive parliaments.)

The ministry implied during the drafting of the law that if the Finnish Internet Service Providers did not submit to the “voluntary” censorship the government would make the censorship mandatory. This is why the “voluntary” in ‘”voluntary” censorship’ is often written within quotation marks.

The law (even though the law itself may be unconstitutional) only authorizes blocking foreign sites that are used to distribute child pornographic images.

The NBI however has also blocked Nikki’s site, a domestic site which contains no child pornography but critique of net censorship. It appears that much more than just sites containing child pornographic images are censored.

Because the law is infringing a civil right protected by the constitution it should be interpreted as restrictively as possible. The legality of the current implementation of the censorship is doubtful: the coarse DNS based blocking mechanism censors whole web servers, some with thousands of sites, resulting to huge collateral censorship. The NBI also appears to have a very expansive interpretation of the applicability of the law.

According to the law, the block list is secret. NBI uses this secrecy as a basis to refuse to disclose the blocking criteria even of the sites publicly known to be on the block list (such as Matti Nikki’s site). It appears that the NBI uses the secrecy of the list as an excuse to keep also the administration of the list as closed and secretive as possible.

Is the censorship legal?
The act on preventive measures on distribution of child pornography itself may be unconstitutional, the coarse technical implementation of the censorship may inherently cause illegal collateral censorship and the NBI appears to have stepped well outside the bounds set by the law in maintaining the block list.

Is the censorship effective in fighting child pornography?
According to the ministry the censorship is supposed to prevent accessing a child pornographic site by accident – even though it is extremely unlikely to surf to a child pornographic site by accident in the first place and even though everyone has always been able to obtain a net-filtering program or service on voluntary basis. The distribution of child pornographic images is illegal in most countries and therefore these images are not typically distributed from the open web sites for which this type of censorship could even in principle be efficient.

Even the preliminary work on the law recognized the fact that the censorship will not do much good for the real problem, that is, the sexual abuse of children. It was also recognized early that the censorship could be easily bypassed.

It seems that it is the appearances that count here. It is important that someone appears to be doing something to counter the child pornography in the Internet; even though it can be argued that the censorship just makes things worse in sweeping the real problem under the carpet (not to speak of introduction of unconstitutional censorship mechanism).

Any opponent of the censorship is easily labelled a supporter of child pornography.

The censorship hurts law-abiding citizens who try to visit wrongly-censored sites, and owners of the wrongly blocked sites who are labeled as distributors of child pornographic images by the police.

The censorship hurts the victims by sweeping the real problem of child abuse under the carpet, out of sight, out of mind. Many of the censored sites in countries with a strict legislation against child pornography stay up and are not taken down. This implies that either the sites do not really contain child pornographic images or the NBI has not informed the local authorities or Internet Service Providers of the infringing sites; or that the local US and EU authorities are not doing anything – all explanations which are equally worrying.

The resources wasted on the futile censorship project would have been better spent on giving more emphasis to the co-operation of the police authorities in different countries so that the offending sites could be really shut down and the people responsible brought into justice. This was in fact suggested by many, including Effi, during the drafting of the law.

Expansion of censorship
It didn’t take long for people to suggest expanding the censorship further.

During the past month or so it has been suggested that the Internet poker sites should be censored with the same system. Net poker apparently is a problem for some and the solution would be to censor all gambling sites for good. A real reason behind this may also be the protection of the Finnish national gambling monopoly which has not managed to set up a net poker site of their own, at least yet.

There have been EU wide plans to prevent access to the sites that allegedly “promote copyright infringement”, such as the Pirate Bay; this has also been suggested by our domestic recording and movie industry lobbyists.

Some have suggested preventing access to racist sites and so on.

Supposedly some bureaucrat at the National Bureau of Investigation would decide which sites contain copyright infringing or racist content or whatever else is on the list and add them to the secret block list.

We are on a slippery slope here. The civil rights, such as the freedom of expression or right to privacy, are deteriorating rapidly in Finland, a fact noted in the 2007 International Privacy Ranking of the Privacy International.

One reason for the sad state of affairs is the lack of basic knowledge about how the Internet works. The first reaction of many to the new world order brought by the Internet is to have more restrictions. It may also be that the relatively long period of stability and democracy has made many people forget why constitutional rights, such as freedom of expression or right to privacy, are important. These rights are too easily traded for an apparent sense of security or for the economic interests of large corporations.

What Effi will do

The act on preventive measures on distribution of child pornography has few legal remedies.

Many constitutional safeguards have already been bypassed.

Effi will, with others, appeal the law and the current censorship practices to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice who supervise the lawfulness of the actions of Government Ministers and public officials, and who monitor the implementation of basic rights and liberties and human rights.

Hopefully real discussion of the deeper meaning of our constitutional rights will ensue.

However, there is little anyone can do in the long term if our basic rights are seen by politicians and the public as secondary to the apparent sense of security. [FACT: See “Security vs. Privacy” posting by Bruce Schneier.]

Background material in English
* Finnish ISPs Must Voluntarily Block Access (of the draft law) (EDRi 8 September 2005)
http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number3.18/censorshipFinland

* Finnish police censors a critic of censorship (Effi 12 February 2008)
http://www.effi.org/julkaisut/tiedotteet/lehdistotiedote-2008-02-12-en.html

* Finnish internet censorship critic blacklisted (WikiNews 12 February 2008)
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Finnish_internet_censorship_critic_blacklisted

* Anti-Internet censorship website placed on police filter list over links to child porn sites (Helsingin Sanomat 14 February 2008) http://www.hs.fi/english/article/1135234057449

* Description of events by Matti Nikki (15 February 2008) http://lapsiporno.info/english-2008-02-15.html

* Matti Nikki, porn and Finnish online censorship (p2pnet.net 15 February 2008) http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14991

[FACT: Here’s the secret Finnish blocklist:
http://lapsiporno.info/suodatuslista/?lang=en%5D

* Wikipedia documents:
Lapsiporno.info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapsiporno.info,
Human rights in Finland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Finland

* Finnish police: Hundreds of public child porn sites in USA (Effi Blog 18 February 2008)
http://www.effi.org/blog/police_blames_usa_for_childporn.html

Kai Puolamäki & Tapani Tarvainen
Electronic Frontiers Finland (Effi)
February 18, 2008

This document is Public Domain.

http://www.effi.org/blog/kai-2008-02-18.html
http://www.effi.org/blog/kai-2008-02-18.html

24 Responses to “Finland labels Princess Galyani portrait kiddie porn-Effi”


  1. […] Finland labels Princess Galyani portrait kiddie porn-Effi [FACT comments:  Electronic Frontiers Finland (Effi) was one of the earliest international supporters of FACT’s […] […]

  2. shadow Says:

    finnish ministry of foreign affairs
    http://formin.finland.fi

    finnish ministry of transport and communications
    http://www.mintc.fi


  3. […] –Finland labels Princess Galyani portrait kiddie porn-Effi […]

  4. thaimisc.com contais kiddie porn Says:

    You are so busted, thaimisc.com contais kiddie porn. Here is the proof: look google search from the site.
    http://images.google.com/images?q=site:thaimisc.com&ndsp=21&hl=en&safe=off&start=630&sa=N

    Stop Child Abuse!


  5. […] Ok, now it seems they have really done it :p I do hope that someone gets that 15 years in prison for […]

  6. ThailandGoDown Says:

    Why should Finland apologize? This is not national error. It’s EFFI’s error.

    No apologizes to Thailand! I hope they DON’T do it!

  7. Finn Says:

    I’m so ashamed to be a finn today. Hopefully we will demolish this internet censhorship with good and massive demostrations. Something has to be done.

  8. a finn Says:

    The block has now been removed according to digitoday.fi

  9. sexyandbeauty Says:

    take consolidations about that

  10. Thai Says:

    I’m a Thai and I’ve heard this from my Finnish friend. For me, this is not a severe diplomatic issue at all. The site is highly possible to contain child porn, and this error is minute. I don’t support censorship, in Thailand and anywhere else, and as far as I know, media censorship is provoking an outrage protest. I think FACT should be more concerned about Internet censorship in Thailand by the Royal Thai Government, which blocked the entire YouTube because of one little video. Leave Finland to the Finns, they have their own discretion.

  11. Thai Says:

    ***correcting comment***
    […] and as far as I know, media censorship is provoking an outrage protest ***in Finland***.

  12. John Doe Says:

    “Lese majeste is a serious crime in Thailand, punishable by 15 years imprisonment. FACT demands that lese majeste charges be filed immediately against the Finnish government authorities responsible.”
    Lese majeste is a crime in Thailand which means that it is a part of your national legislation which is IN NO WAY INTERNATIONAL. Whatever cases filed in your jurisdiction against EU nationals are invalid unless they are in breach with international laws. It is not a crime to insult your royalty in Finland. Finland believes in free speech. This is not a political issue, it is just a sad mishap. We will keep censoring illegal content as well as we can.

  13. Call the police Says:

    http://www.thaimisc.com/freewebboard/php/vreply.php?user=videomix&topic=2

    Perhaps there are some who can stop these bastards.

  14. finn Says:

    Finnish Government fail because it allow censor law.
    Effi do NOT support cencor law! Finland forbid childporn.
    Finland should freedom country without cencors.

  15. GWaur Says:

    “Why should Finland apologize? This is not national error. It’s EFFI’s error.”

    You’ve got it wrong.

    EFFI is NOT the corporation that assembles the list of sites to be censored. Instead, EFFI actually protests against the censor thing. It is the National Bureau of Investigation of Finland that does it. EFFI and NBI are in no co-operation, so EFFI is not to be blamed for anything. EFFI hasn’t made any errors concerning the censorship.

  16. Gwaur Says:

    “Lese majeste is a crime in Thailand which means that it is a part of your national legislation which is IN NO WAY INTERNATIONAL.”

    But the existence of the law proves that Thai people don’t take this things lightly.


  17. […] Tähän sananvapausasiaan onkin tarttunut jo thaimaalainen sananvapausjärjestö FACT blogissaan (21.2.2008). Suomessa Lindenin lausunto on saanut yli 7000 ihmistä jo allekirjoittamaan adressin, jolla […]

  18. spidu Says:

    The Main article has one point wrong!

    Matti Nikki made his “clickable links-list” AFTER hes site was declared as childpornography-portal. He was pissed off. And since hes site was already censored, he thought he’d might as well meet the requirements (set by the police, not the law).

    Over 10000 finns have signed a web-petition demanding the resignations of Finlands Minister of communication Suvi Linden

  19. vlada rh Says:

    mi smo nesposobna gamad.

  20. freedom Says:

    Call the police Says: I had a look, a 11 years old spreading her legs. I find this disgusting but I don’t think it’s yet kidi porn but it’s on the border. Nude children ( as long they don’t spread their legs ) are perfect natural pictures. Any form of penetration is kid porn but why block a entire domain when the owner might not be even aware that he is hosting kidie porn pictures? I am a viuctim of censorhip my self and I am being harassed by the Turku police for content on putfile dot com which was uploaded by an Irish stalker. Can it get more weird and pervert then that? Check the web site of Seaniehunter on Youtube and go to his 00 server web site. click on 2008 for the short version. Conclusion: Finland is a fascist country and things will go only worse. About the effi Finnish people fighting censorship: I was insulted last year by them for asking for help and advice because I am being censored for the crap an Irish racist is posting!!!

  21. freedom Says:

    Nude pictures are not porn. Sexual with or by children is. Also why block an entire site when the owner might not be aware of the content? Finland is a fascist police state. Check Seaniehunter on youtube.

  22. freedom Says:

    I am being blogged here, why? google dimitrios xenos on google groups and you know more about fascist finland.
    This is my 5th attempt to post

  23. freedom Says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts. The server is slow and it takes time to upload a new comment.
    Please delete duplicate comments

  24. lucky amin Says:

    check out this site containing huge informatioon


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