A clerical error led to two Danish ISPs mistakenly blocking around 8,000 websites, including Google and Facebook, for several hours on the grounds of containing child pornography. Customers of the Siminn ISP who tried to access the affected pages were greeted with the following message:
"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."
The blackout also affected Tele Greenland users. It was reportedly caused by a police employee accidentally putting a list of legitimate sites in a folder of those flagged for illegal content, and the ISPs managed to pull down the list before the error had been noticed. Johnny Lundberg of NITEC says that in future two people will be required to give the go-ahead before a site gets added to the block list, but the incident raises doubts over the efficacy and thoroughness of the procedure — not to mention how willing ISPs seem to be to question the decisions. Together with the revelations of recent security breaches at NASA, it's not the first time this week we've seen evidence of major government organizations taking a lackadaisical approach to handling data.