It was amongst the most amusingly shocking and unsettling human error in the history of the Internet usage. Yesterday, when Danish visitors flocked the online world, the witnessed over 8000 websites, including Google and Facebook, being blocked by the High Tech Crime unit of the country, under the suspicion of these sites offering child pornography. The situation persisted for several hours.
Censorship – To Implement or Not to Implement?
The very nature and act of censorship has been argued about quite a lot in the past several years. The revolutionists and people with liberal mindset believes that as adults and being driven with an internal sense of right and wrong, we should be able to make our own choices and thus there should not remain any sort of censorship, what so ever. However the stringent and oppressive rules and regulations of certain countries makes it absolutely mandatory to keep a tab on information being circulated.
Censorship and the Corporate World
The censorship today has taken a different meaning and significance altogether, especially in the west. Though primary concern still is to ward off criminality and safe guard the rights of the ones who are being exploited; but repeatedly a lot of entertainment companies are stressing upon the censorship, in order to protect their corporate interests.
What happened in Denmark yesterday, can not really be viewed as Internet brake down, but it was hardly an Internet services anyway. What seemed like eternity, the customers of ISP Siminn were detained form accessing the numerous (legal) websites all around the world. And while the tried viewing the blocked pages, they were urged not to, and that too with a reason only a soulless person could deny – to protect the innocent children.
Here we provide you with the message that was displayed to the users of Denmark.
“The National High Tech Crime Center of the Danish National Police [NITEC], who assist in investigations into crime on the Internet, has informed Siminn Denmark A/S, that the Internet page which your browser has tried to get in contact with may contain material which could be regarded as child pornography,”
“Upon the request of The National High Tech Crime Center of the Danish National Police, Siminn Denmark A/S has blocked the access to the Internet page.”
It is the task of NITEC to maintain a list of the website which must be blocked from a random access by the users. Every day, all the Internet service providers of the company retrieve the list from NITEC and executes the DNS blockades. What happened yesterday was basically just a huge mistake on the part of someone in charge.
The NITEC chief, Johnny Lundberg reported that it happened when an employee at the police center took randomly moved from his work station to the one of his colleague’s.
“He sat down and was about to make an investigation, and in doing so he placed a list of legitimate sites in the wrong folder,” Lundberg explained. “Before becoming aware of the error, two ISPs retrieved the list of sites.”
There Were 8000 Sites in the List!
Once NITEC identified they problem, they took the precautionary measures possible. But it took them almost 3 hours to fix the blunder. Luckily, no other ISP’s in the mean while retrieved and responded to the error some list.
NITEC has apologized for the same mistake and has claimed a change in the entire administering. From now on the list has to be passed by the two employees instead of one. However, the industry is abuzz with the debates on why such a step was not taken from the starting.
The other issue being raised is how exactly in just a flick of a second, as many as 8000 websites were added to the block list? No matter what is the reason behind it, but there has to be a superior over sight before blocking the websites. The IT-Political association of Denmark is crucial and has asked the ISP’s to stop any sort of cooperation with the voluntary schemes that are active and functional without any sort of review from the judicial bodies.
“Today’s story shows that the police are not able to secure against manual errors that could escalate into something that actually works as a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet,” the group said in a statement.