Finnish scandal unmasks censorship tactics

by Milton Mueller
For some time it has been known that law enforcement authorities in Norway and Finland have prepared lists of alleged child pornography web sites, and demanded that local Internet service providers block access to them. This model of blocking access was avidly picked up by Internet law enforcement authorities in other countries, including the Netherlands, where pressure has been placed on ISPs to block these sites or risk being publicly smeared as aiding and abetting child abuse.Using ISPs as intermediaries for censorship is a bad idea because mandated site blocking violates the principle of net neutrality. Truly illegal content should be handled by prosecuting the producers, publishers and hosts of the content rather than through attempts to block and control Internet access on a territorial basis. Governments, however, claim that they must block access because of the heinousness of child abuse and because the heinous sites were out of the reach of local law enforcement. Many people have bought that argument.

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