Great Swedish Firewall to Be Build?

Posted on 30/03/09 - by Theodor Mavrodis News

It seems that the battle for, or rather against, free speech is mainly fought out on the Internet these days. The virtual place were where ever since the day it emerged virtually anything could be stated, broadcasted, uploaded and downloaded.

Feats of Arms
Most notoriously in the war against free speech is the Chinese Government, obliging Google to filter out all kinds of unwanted content as one of their feats of arms. Then, against all odds the Australian Government opened fire by obliging ISPs to block certain unwanted content. Mockingly referred to as the "Great Aussie Firewall" this crazy plan goes as far as blocking certain poker operators, dating sites and even YouTube videos.

Strange Developments in Sweden
Currently the Swedish Government is picking up on the Australian newfound habits of disabling the access to certain sites right at the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Until now however, the censorship actions seem to be solely aimed against online gambling.

As the current media coverage on this topic implies, the actual implementation of this censorship plan is far from certain. Massive protest have arisen from all parts of the Swedish society.

Criticism Abound
The Swedish Post and the government driven Telecom Agency, stated that online gambling is perfectly legal and is very curious to know why a legal activity would be banned. Officials of the Telecom Agency declared: "regulation could bring limitations in the freedom of speech for individuals".

Jon Karlung, CEO of one of the biggest ISPs in Sweden, labeled the plan as undisguised censorship and warned against the gray area that is entered with such dangerous governmental maneuvers. Even judges of High Courts from two Swedish counties expressed themselves strongly against the measures, and were concerned with the extended blockages such an act inevitably would bring about.   

The Odds
While the Swedish Government seems to be quite serious about this issue, social criticism on the plan is vast and inescapable. Given the fierce opposition to the censorship maybe the Government will change its stance, yet what the odds are we can't tell.