Finland Filtering

Finland’s filtering system, put in place to block access to images of child abuse (child pornography) is blocking sites that do not match this criteria. In addition to blocking an anti-censorship activism site, the filtering seems to be significantly overblocking. EFFi reports:

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.

An interesting issue brought up in this case concerns links. The website of the anti-censorship activist Matti Nikki was censored after he published the blocklist as hyperlinks:

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.

This is an interesting case as it shows how the lack of transparency and accountability can lead to practices that impinge on freedom of expression despite the intended goal of protecting children.

(More screen shots of block pages at


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