Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ireland to censor the internet

It didn't take that long for Ireland to take the bait of internet censorship, which is, mildly saying, dangerous for any country. I will use the word freedom at the end of this post, but before that I will give examples of why it sucks the wrong way. I will be making comparisons to Finland, which might have the strictest laws, and enforcement of piracy laws in western Europe. Finland still stays a bit behind of some countries, which are also criticized by the liberals of the western countries, for let's say China and North Korea, and the latter mentioned two countries wouldn't be doing that good of a job without the help of the biggest piracy channel in the world, namely Google. Even this platform is provided by Google, and blogger is widely used to distribute copyrighted material - to the extent that it should be blocked on the same merits as The Pirate Bay.

First wave

First, let's take a look, how Finland has managed to handle the blocking of Pirate bay. It started with legislation of the so-called Lex Karpela in 2005. It was a bundle of laws aiming to protect companies against copyright infringements. It gave law enforcement instruments to block certain pages, and it was wildly controversial on the grounds of citizens communicating freely without governmental officials stopping it beforehand (aka. censorship)

First time Finland applied censorship of Internet, was on the grounds of fighting against child pornography. The process was to create a list of web sites, which should be censored, for distributing child pornography. As the idea might have sounded great, for it is for children's sake, it went terribly wrong, at least on three levels. Firstly, the list was not public, and nobody was held responsible, if the list had wrong sites on it. Only way for a company know that their website was blocked, and this is very true for companies not based in Finland, was to try access the page from Finland. Users trying to access blocked pages saw a warning message stating that the page is blocked because of child pornography.

So, it was basically some officials, who updated the list, and were not held liable. Ironically, one of the sites that got blocked, was a Finnish web page, which only crime was being critical against the censorship (YLE: Police censor porn website)Practically, this whole black list idea, was doing, what critics were afraid of, on the most horrifying way - blocking sites critical of the government.

Matti Nikki, who administrated the critical web page, couldn't get his web site out of the black list, because no authority recognized it's duty not to interfere with a freedom of speech. I have to point out that censorship is forbidden in Finland on it's constitution, even though it might be a closer to dead letter these days, it is still written there. Meaning it is somehow still recognized.

Thirdly, the list was shown to have a pretty vague idea of what constituted child porn. List included a plumber company (must be because that many times told audiovisual story of a plumber man and a housewife), 

So it went wrong at least on three levels: blacklisters didn't have accountability, it blacklisted critics, and there was no way for commercial web sites to get off the list, even if those web sites didn't broke any laws.

And the blacklist was also meant to be used against sites that were in countries, where there wasn't any means to prosecute potential Child Porn distributors. Most of the sites on the list were on servers based in the United States or Europe, where there are effective legislation already in place against child porn.

Second Wave

The second wave of Finnish censorship, was the Pirate bay. Lot of Finnish Internet providers were ruled to block The Pirate Bay, and it didn't go that well either. The blocks were diminished in value in a matter of hours on two counts. Finland is very technically savvy country, with a high educational standards and know-how of the information technologically. Secondly: the Facebook. Through facebook, even the people who had problems accessing The Pirate Bay before the blocks, and whose technological skills were limited to logging on to Facebook, were given instructions how to avoid the blocks. The most easiest one being the link to Estonian mirror site. Basically you just need to change the .org to .ee. Block cracked.

Then there are those proxies, which you might probably heard of. And you don't need a lot of technical skills to use those. Web is full of those. Those Chinese citizens who break the censorship of China, don't really need to be very technical. They basically just need to go to a website like, and type the web page they want to visit.

But the easiest way of them all, is the use to world's most popular pirate indexing site, is the Just try it. Or how about, or

China has a whole national department of thousands of workers working 24/7 to censor the internet, and they are not doing a very good job at it.

Secondly, the Finnish court didn't even bother to check those sites, that were about the be blocked. So they also blocked promobay, a site for indie artists to promote their own material. So, good job Ireland, and good luck enforcing your new ruling. 

So, Ireland just took a very dangerous route, which starts with blocking The Pirate Bay, and then their subsidiaries, and then pages, which might have something to do with it, and then probably the critics of the law, and then probably just obnoxious pages, and then probably this page, and soon we will notice, that we have lost our freedom.

They came first for the allofmp3,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a leech.

Then they came for the child pornography,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a pedophile.

Then they came for the pirate bay,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a pirate.

Then they came for the online poker games,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a poker player.

Then they came for the online news, chats and forums,
and I didn't speak up because I didn't care.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.