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Danish Police Accidentally Censor 8,000 Sites With Child Porn Filter

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Google and Facebook among the sites briefly blocked in police blunder

Customers of two ISPs in Denmark and Greenland yesterday found themselves unable to connect to Facebook, Google and 8,000 other sites that had been blocked on grounds that the pages contained child pornography.

Police in Denmark confirmed that a “human error” led to the accidental censorship for customers of Siminn and Tele Greenland.

Police error

A notice on the blocked sites read: “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.”

According to Danish site Politi.dk, the sites were blocked for more than three hours.

Johnny Lundberg, the head of NITEC, explained that the problem came about when an employee moved from one computer to another. Version2 reports that when moving files, the employee accidentally put 8,000 legitimate sites in the wrong folder. Before the error could be realised, the two ISPs – both involved in a voluntary scheme to allow NITEC to automate child porn filtering – had copied the folder.

Lundberg apologised and said that the automation system had been altered and would require two employees to approve a site ban. However, Denmark’s IT-Political Association, an anti-surveillance and consumer rights group, believes that the child porn filter is flawed and could potentially be used as a blanket excuse for the police to ‘accidentally’ sensor anything.

“There is no reason to believe that DNS blocking helps against the spread of child pornography on the Internet, and the filter actually functions as an early-warning system for the organised crime behind websites with child pornography,” the group said in a statement. “Today led a seemingly banal human error by the police for a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet.”

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