Yesterday evening, coming back from the bar after a glass with friends, I used my mobile Web devices to read stuff from lists.w3.org. One probably shouldn’t read work-related stuff on Friday night, but my browsing tends to gravitate to list archive while on the bus… Anyway, as usual, I followed a link from a message to a spec in the /TR/ space on www.w3.org.
To my great surpise, I was greeted with an instance of the child porn block page of the police (link to a globally visible instance hosted by another ISP), which was subject to debate earlier this year when the police used the system to block a site critical of the blocking system but not containing child porn.
First, I thought this was some kind of DNS poisoning practical joke performed by someone outside the ISP, because the name of the server http://lugos.fn.fi:8001/ (seems to be reachable from Finland only) didn’t suggest any connection to the ISP—DNA (their GPRS/3G service to be precise). However, a quick inspection from the .fi registry shows that DNA owns fn.fi.
The process by which the Web censorship list is maintained in Finland is secretive, so one can’t know how www.w3.org ended up on the list of censored host names. The fact that a legitimate site can end up on the list raises questions about the process, though. To the credit of the censors, the block had been lifted by Saturday morning, but one can only speculate if getting a less prominent false positive off the list would have been as fast.
I tried to take video “proof” using my phone, but the result (MPEG-4 video track from phone; re-encoded as Theora) is too blurry to look convincing.
P.S. Note about rumors claiming that the w3.org domain was blocked: The host name www.w3.org was blocked. The domain was not blocked. For instance, lists.w3.org was not blocked.
Update 2008-09-27: A nameless police spokesperson responded to my email inquiry and said that www.w3.org was placed on the list without a reason as the result of a human error.