Wikipedia falls foul of British censors
Posted in: Censorship at 09/12/2008 04:35
British internet providers have blocked access to parts of Wikipedia after accusations that the site was carrying "potentially illegal" images of child pornography.
Reports from users suggest that Virgin Media, O2's Be internet service and others have blocked access to at least one Wikipedia article after it was placed on a blacklist by the Internet Watch Foundation, Britain's de facto online watchdog.
The offending article, about German rock group The Scorpions' 1976 album Virgin Killers, included an image of the record's controversial cover - which featured a young naked girl with her genitals obscured by a crack in the camera lens.
How the IWF blacklist stops you seeing the Scorpions' album cover
If you needed a flow diagram - and doesn't everyone, at some point? - of how the UK's Internet Watch Foundation/BT CleanFeed system works to prevent you seeing album covers by the Scorpions and other unsavoury content, it's right here.
British ISPs censor Wikipedia over 'child porn'
Six British ISPs are filtering access to Wikipedia after the site was added to an Internet Watch Foundation child-pornography blacklist, according to Wikipedia administrators.
As of Sunday morning UK time, certain British web surfers were unable to view at least one Wikipedia article tagged with ostensible child porn. And, in a roundabout way, the filtering has resulted in Wikipedia admins banning large swaths of the United Kingdom from editing the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit."
British ISPs filtering Wikipedia
Internet service providers in the U.K. have begun filtering access to Wikipedia after the site was added to the Internet Watch Foundation's blacklist.
IWF statement regarding Wikipedia URL
IWF is the UK's internet 'Hotline' for the public and IT professionals to report potentially illegal online content within our remit. We work in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, the education sector, charities, international partners and the public to minimise the availability of this content, specifically, child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world and criminally obscene and incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK. We are an independent self-regulatory body, funded by the EU and the wider online industry, including internet service providers, mobile operators and manufacturers, content service providers, filtering companies, search providers, trade associations and the financial sector as well as other organisations that support us for corporate social responsibility reasons.
We help internet service providers and hosting companies to combat abuse of their networks through our national 'notice and take-down' service which alerts them to potentially illegal content within our remit on their systems and we provide unique data to law enforcement partners in the UK and abroad to assist investigations into the distributers of potentially illegal online content. As sexually abusive images of children are primarily hosted abroad, we facilitate the industry-led initiative to protect users from inadvertent exposure to this content by blocking access to it through our provision of a dynamic list of child sexual abuse URLs.
A Wikipedia web page, was reported through the IWF's online reporting mechanism in December 2008. As with all child sexual abuse reports received by our Hotline analysts, the image was assessed according to the UK Sentencing Guidelines Council (page 109). The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18, but hosted outside the UK. The IWF does not issue takedown notices to ISPs or hosting companies outside the UK, but we did advise one of our partner Hotlines abroad and our law enforcement partner agency of our assessment. The specific URL (individual webpage) was then added to the list provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to a potentially illegal indecent image of a child.