Helsinki 16 February 2003
Press release
For immediate release
Electronic Frontier Finland - EFFI ry

EFFI: Finland rewrote the Internet censorship law

The Finnish parliament has substantially revised a controversial law proposal on restrictions to the freedom of speech. Initially the proposal was seen as a threat to the free communications in the Internet. It was feared any publisher or service provider would have had to log practically all Internet traffic, archive all publications for up to three months and even monitor discussion groups.

Electronic Frontier Finland has been the leading critic of the law proposal for more than a year. Kai Puolamäki, an EFFI board member, was invited to present EFFI's critique at the parliament's hearing session. "There were a number of serious problems in the government's proposal", Puolamäki notes and continues: "Luckily, the parliament heard us and took our comments into account. Now the result is a better law. There is no doubt on it - we can make a difference."

Freedom of speech instead of restrictions is now expressly the starting point. The scope of retention is more narrow. Archivation time is significantly reduced to three weeks. Any communication not edited by service provider or website owner is not governed by the law - this means chat rooms and newsgroups are saved. Finally, the logging of Internet traffic data is no longer required. So privacy is saved, too.

EFFI's chairman Mikko Välimäki is pleased. "This is a second huge victory for us in a short time. Just two weeks ago we persuaded the parliament to return the local EU copyright directive implementation for redrafting. Now they rewrote the law on free speech on the Internet quite in line with our arguments," he concludes.

In the final stages EFFI received strong company backup for their effort. Among others, the International Chamber of Commerce joined the critics with a public notice. Also the media support was important. Within the last few months, the law proposal was covered a couple of times in the leading Finnish TV channels and newspapers.

More information:

International Chamber of Commerce: "Finnish companies oppose law to censor Internet"
http://www.iccwbo.org/home/news_archives/2003/stories/finnish.asp

Slashdot: "Finland Proposes Editorial Culpability for Web Content"
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/01/22/0530242&mode=thread

EFFI's pages on the law proposal:
http://www.effi.org/sananvapaus/index.en.html

Kai Puolamäki
Board member, Electronic Frontier Finland ry
kai.puolamaki@effi.org
+358 50 522 8111

Mikko Välimäki
Chairman, Electronic Frontier Finland ry
mikko.valimaki@effi.org
+358 50 598 0498


Electronic Frontier Finland - EFFI ry was founded in 2001 to defend active users and citizens of the Finnish society in the electronic frontier. EFFI influences legislative proposals concerning e.g. personal privacy, freedom of speech and fair use in copyright law. We make statements, press releases and participate actively in actual public policy and legal discussions. EFFI has been featured in the national media including TV, radio and leading newspapers. EFFI also works in close cooperation with organizations sharing the same goals and values in the Europe, United States and elsewhere. EFFI is a founding member of the European Digital Rights and a member of Global Internet Liberty Campaign. More information from EFFI's home pages: http://www.effi.org/