Finland's Regulations on Freedom of Speech on Web

The law defines web publication as a periodic publication created from materials collected by the publisher. This definition would make the law apply to blogs, mailing lists, discussion forums and news sites, but not necessarily to regular organizatorial websites.

The "Application of Freedom of Speech in Mass Media" law can apply even to personal blogs, but is slightly eased for publications that are produced by individuals instead of organizations.

Here are some examples of the restrictions:


  • Publisher must name a responsible editor for the publication
    • The responsible editor must be over 15 and not insolvent
    • The publication must carry notice on the identity of the publisher and the responsible editor - everybody is entitled to get the information on identity of responsible editor
    • Responsible editor can be fined for publishing information that breaks Finnish laws
  • All published materials must be stored for 21 days
    • Everybody has right to get the stored information if they feel false information has been posted about them or they wish to post a correction
  • The publication must carry any notices provided by Finnish government if they are important for saving human lives, health, environment or remarkable amounts of property


  • If an individual can see himself as having been insulted by a message in the publication, he has the right to get an answer posted in the same publication
  • Individuals and organizations have the right to get false information posted about them in the publication corrected
  • The correction or answer must be posted without cost and delay
  • The responsible editor must help in the technical implementation of the answer or correction if required


  • Publisher has the right to keep source of a message anonymous
  • Administrator of servers the publication resides on must provide all identification information on a message to Finnish authorities if required

This all brings a heavy burden of responsibility for both the editor of the publication (or mailing list moderator) and the server maintainer. Not only they have to keep logs of many things, but they can also become legally responsible for something published by an external user - for example as a blog comment.

Essentially this means that running a public forum where posts appear without moderator approval is always a risk. This all certainly makes TypeKey sound more appealing.

I wonder how the laws would apply to many of the websites I run. Most of them are maintained at least partially by Finnish citizens, but are physically located offshore.

Some links

Law for Application of Freedom of Speech in Mass Media (Laki sananvapauden käyttämisestä joukkoviestinnässä - in finnish)

EFFi statement on the law (in finnish)

Finnish parliament's proceedings over the law (in finnish)

MikroPC column: The Autumn of Censorship (in finnish)

Updated 2004-04-28: Helsingin Sanomat, the main Finnish newspaper ran with the story, although with a sensationalistic approach.