Censorship in Denmark

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Censorship in Denmark has been prohibited since 1849 by the Constitution:

§ 77: Any person shall be at liberty to publish his ideas in print, in writing, and in speech, subject to his being held responsible in a court of law. Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced.[1]

This effectively means that published material does not need prior acceptance from a censor before being released, also known as prior restraint. However, child pornography, hate speech, copyright, libel, and state security laws do exist, which means that authors, publishers, and others can be held responsible for statements in publicly disseminated material that violates these laws. Until June 2017, §140 of the Danish penal code (colloquially, blasfemiparagraffen) outlawed blasphemy.

Internet censorship[edit]

Internet censorship became a growing issue in Denmark from 2005 with child pornography sites,[2] file-sharing sites such as AllOfMP3 and, more recently, The Pirate Bay, being blocked on the DNS level by ISPs.[3] On 23 December 2008, WikiLeaks released a list of 3,863 sites being filtered in Denmark.[4] However, no evidence of Internet filtering was found by the OpenNet Initiative in 2009.[5] Due to legal issues ONI does not test for filtering of child pornography. In November 2011, the DNS blocking was expanded to include websites selling drugs[6] and unlicensed online gambling sites.[7] The DNS filters can easily be circumvented by simply changing to a different DNS server, such as Google Public DNS, OpenDNS, censurfridns.dk and other similar services.[8]

This situation has been criticised by several organisations and in June 2011 in an open letter a confederation of the Danish IT-business organisations appealed to the Danish government for a revision of this practice and for the institution of clear legislation on the subject.[9]

In 2012 Internet service providers (ISPs) and copyright holders in Denmark agreed on a framework where all ISPs will block access to copyright-infringing content if one of the providers is ordered to do so by a court. The Danish Ministry of Culture plans to work with ISPs and rights holder groups to "formalise" the agreement in a "written Code of Conduct".[10]

Selected instances[edit]

In February and March 2004 three Berlingske Tidende journalists, Michael Bjerre, Jesper Larsen, and Niels Lunde, were prosecuted for "harming state security" after publishing the details of classified intelligence reports about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In December 2006 the three were acquitted by a Copenhagen court.[11]

On 18 October 2005 Denmark's biggest Internet service provider TDC A/S launched a DNS-based child pornography filter in cooperation with the state police department and Save the Children, a charity organisation. Since then, all major providers have joined and as of May 2006, 98% of the Danish Internet users were restricted by the filter.[12]

Also, as of 18 October 2005, TDC A/S had blocked Internet access to AllOfMP3.com, a popular MP3 download site, through DNS filtering.[13]

In March 2006, Internet filtering caused some controversy when a legal sex site named Bizar.dk was blocked, sparking discussion about the reliability, accuracy and credibility of the filter.[14]

On 4 February 2008 a Danish court ordered the Danish ISP Tele2 to shut down access to the file-sharing site thepiratebay.org for its Danish users.[15]

Right-wing commentator Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted under the hate speech statute (§ 266b) for remarks made to a blogger in December 2009 criticizing Islam. He was first acquitted in the District Court in January 2011, then convicted upon appeal to High Court in May 2011, and finally acquitted in April 2012 by the Danish Supreme Court, which ruled that it could not be proved that he intended for the statements to be published.[16] Danish politician Jesper Langballe pleaded guilty and was convicted of hate speech for comments he made about rape and honour killings in Muslim families in a newspaper article in connection with Hedegaard's case.[17]

In November 2011 a website selling diet pills, 24hdiet.com, was blocked by Danish ISPs, the first use of a new law on the blocking of foreign websites that sell drugs.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Constitution of Denmark (English translation), Legislationline, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, accessed 16 August 2012
  2. ^ "Om blokeringsordningen mod børneporno" (About blocking scheme against child pornography) (in Danish), Danish National Police, 16 July 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012. (English translation)
  3. ^ Pedersen, Karim (26 January 2006). "Danske internet-udbydere kritiseres for censur" (Danish ISPs accused of censorship) (in Danish). ComON (IDG Denmark A / S). Retrieved 16 August 2012. (English translation)
  4. ^ "Denmark: 3863 sites on censorship list, Feb 2008" Archived 2016-08-23 at the Wayback Machine, WikiLeaks, 23 December 2008
  5. ^ While there is no individual ONI country profile for Denmark, it is included in the regional overview for the Nordic Countries. "ONI Regional Overview: Nordic Countries", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010
  6. ^ a b Kildebogaard, Jesper (10 November 2011). "Staten har DNS-blokeret den første udenlandske medicin-hjemmeside (The state DNS-blocks first foreign medicin website)" (in Danish). Version2. Retrieved 16 August 2012. (English translation)
  7. ^ "The first blockings of gaming web sites in Denmark" Archived 2012-10-28 at the Wayback Machine, Corpus Juris, 27 June 2012
  8. ^ Leaping Over the Firewall: A Review of Censorship Circumvention Tools, Freedom House, 11 April 2011, accessed 16 August 2012
  9. ^ Kildebogaard, Jesper (8 June 2011). "Samlet it-branche i skarp protest mod dansk internetcensur" (Overall, the IT industry in sharp protest against Danish Internet censorship) Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine (in Danish). Version2. Retrieved 16 August 2012. (English translation)
  10. ^ "One court order could gag EVERY ISP in Denmark", Out-Law.com (Pinsent Masons), The Register, 22 June 2012, accessed 16 August 2012
  11. ^ "Three Berlingske Tidende Journalists Acquitted of State Security Charges", Reporters Without Borders, 4 December 2004, accessed 16 August 2012
  12. ^ Krabbe, Klaus (18 October 2005). "TDC aktiverer filter mod børneporno (TDC enables filter against child pornography)" (in Danish). Computerworld. Retrieved 19 July 2006. (English translation)
  13. ^ Vanglo, Robert (22 March 2006). ""TDC lukker for adgangen til Allofmp3.com" (TDC blocks access to Allofmp3.com)" (in Danish). ComputerWorld. (English translation)
  14. ^ Madsen, Kristoffer (20 March 2006). "Politisk strid om politiets børneporno-filter (Political dispute over the police child porn filter)" (in Danish). Computerworld. Retrieved 19 July 2006. (English translation)
  15. ^ "Danish ISP shuts access to file-sharing Pirate Bay". Reuters. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  16. ^ Pia Buhl Andersen (20 April 2012). "Lars Hedegaard is acquitted of opinions about Muslims" (in Danish). Politiken.DK. Retrieved 16 August 2012. (English translation)
  17. ^ "Jesper Langballe admits defamation after Muslim rape comments", IceNews, 14 December 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2012