I reported last week on the combined efforts of Finnish State Prosecutor Mika Illman and Ombudsman for Minorities Mikko Puumalainen to crack down on “racism” and other dangerous speech on the internet.
The Finnish blogger Vasarahammer has sent us another report on the issue:
Mika Illman’s recent statements about moderators in internet forums have caused a lot wider concern even in the liberal blogs. Most of the comments are against his views.
Blogger Kari Haakana contacted Mika Illman and asked him three questions. The translations are mine:
1. When you talked about moderating discussion forums, did you mean moderating beforehand or afterwards? Is the basic idea to mandate that forum administrators check all messages before they are published or after they have been published?
The issue is about removing already published messages from the public view. When a message with clearly illegal content is posted (e.g. a statement containing serious racism), it would be removed. Some forum administrators already have this kind of moderator (according to my understanding). Hiring an adequate number of moderators would become mandatory, as it already is mandatory for a network publication to have an editor, who is responsible for controlling the journalistic work.
2. Would the legislation you suggest also concern discussions maintained by private individuals that can be found in blogs and other private web pages?
The Parliament has stated that the site administrator’s criminal liability may come under scrutiny, if he, for example, allows his site to become a forum for publishing messages with criminal content. In principle this applies to all, because every one of us is bound to make sure that our activities follow the law. It may be that for practical reasons it is only possible to target the legislation for commercial operators only.
But in principle a private party has a duty to follow the law, so – if I had all the cards – I would expand the legislation to private individuals as well.
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3. How does your suggestion take IRC and instant messages into account?
The principle is the same. The administrator would have a duty to monitor the discussion and in due time to take action against clearly illegal material. This is no stronger obligation than the one TV or radio broadcaster has in the case of live broadcast.
Of course, I understand that it is not easy to monitor this type of media. However, this is no basis for leaving discussion completely without monitoring. The boundary between legal and illegal activity is the same both in the internet and elsewhere.
State Prosecutor Mika Illman is a government official who is clearly engaged in political activity here. He has published a Doctor’s dissertation concerning the subject of freedom of speech. It is quite evident that he and Ombudsman for Minorities Mikko Puumalainen are acting together in their crusade against free speech in the internet.
If Mika Illman is successful, everything you do or say in the net will be monitored by your internet operator. This will basically eliminate any privacy that you have when using the internet.
Update: See Fausta’s take on the issue. She reports that the problem is not restricted to Europe; internet radio here in the USA is under threat of censorship.