Meet the blogger who changed the law, sort of. Or whose case at least prompted Norwegian legislators to introduce legal amendments to allow for the Internet to be treated as a public place.
This story really, truly, beggars belief, but due to outdated computer systems Norwegian authorities have been unable to implement the updated version of the country’s penal code even though it was passed many years ago.
This means that for instance, Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist behind the worst mass slaughter in modern Norwegian history, could not be sentenced under the terror paragraph as authorities have been unable to implement the updated penal code, which introduces a terror paragraph (I blogged more about this in 2011 here, in Norwegian).
But it also means judges were unable to send a controversial blogger to jail last summer for encouraging people on his blog to kill police officers, as – hang on – the internet, according to the old version of the penal code is not a public place (whereas in the updated version the authorities have been unable to implement the internet is). Read more about last summer’s verdict against the mentioned blogger here (in Norwegian, but this link deals with the legal considerations).
Luckily, that has propelled legislators to amend the relevant paragraph (§7) of the penal code they are stuck with until managing to implement the close to a decade old updated version of it. So now, even Norwegian law considers the internet to be a public place. Aftenposten has a witty comment on the implications here.
But I really needed to file this story to my blog archive of unbelievable but unfortunately true stories from our brave new media/IT-world, so I can look up the details easily whenever I marvel about the absurdity of it.
I interviewed the blogger in question in the aftermath of 22/7, he was then quite sympathetic to some of the things Breivik represented, but we chose to anonymise him as we were uncertain about his sanity in light of some of the things he said. That of course, is just a side note, the bigger, more important story is how outdated IT-structures (the police systems they are replacing run on Windows NT 4.0 !) seriously hamper police work and the outcome of trials - such as in this case, with the blogger who walked free because he made his threats online and not in print .
Btw, Vampus is right of course: even without this mess surrounding §7 of the penal code and IT-systems, it was never the case even in Norway that you could say whatever you liked online without potentially facing legal reprecussions. Recently another blogger has been sentenced for libel due to accusations made in a blog post, but I'm just blown by the absurdity of the above story.