A few months ago, when Wikileaks was blocked by Australian censors for leaking the Australian blacklist (later found to have legal websites in it), an editor famously remarked, “The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship.” It seems as though a similar thing is happening with Finnish censors now where a website devoted to transparency was added to the government mandated censorship list.
There’s a rather disturbing report from EDRI where a man was posting some of the URLs contained in the Finnish blacklist on a website. While the operator was interrogated by police and threatened to be prosecuted, no charges ever emerged. Still, the website remained on the Finnish mandatory blacklist. So the operator demanded that his website be removed through the Helsinki Administrative Court. The result? He didn’t get anywhere and his website still remains on the blacklist.
An EDRI editor commented, “the most worrying aspect is that while the court admits that the case is in fact about censoring Mr. Nikki’s personal site, it totally walks over the Finnish constitution and the rights enshrined in it in relation to freedom of speech, without even giving any reasoning why it has done so. This is a grave violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The case seems to highlight another remarkable instance where transparency and accountability is off the agenda when it comes to web censorship. What this case also makes obvious is that in order to maintain freedom of expression, one needs to rely on the support of other countries through, for example, proxies. Why is this so important? Just ask any Iranian political dissident why internet free speech is important.