UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

Summary: A bevy of United Kingdom Internet service providers are restricting Wikipedia access over child pornography allegations.The move, reported by ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins, caused a bit of a ruckus (Techmeme).


A bevy of United Kingdom Internet service providers are restricting Wikipedia access over child pornography allegations.

The move, reported by ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins, caused a bit of a ruckus (Techmeme). Rupert spied the following notice as UK users attempted to edit Wikipedia.

"Wikipedia has been added to an Internet Watch Foundation UK website blacklist, and your Internet service provider has decided to block part of your access. Unfortunately, this also makes it impossible for us to differentiate between different users, and block those abusing the site without blocking other innocent people as well."

The ISPs blocking UK users reportedly include Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal.

The problem: Wikipedia has run into the Internet Watch Foundation's criteria for child pornography over a 1970s album cover from the Scorpions, a German heavy metal band. The Wikipedia entry on the album--Virgin Killer--is up to date with the ban. Wikipedia's entry on Virgin Killer notes:

In 2008 the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a UK-based non-government organization, added Wikipedia's Virgin Killer article to its blacklist due to the online encyclopedia's use of an image of the original Virgin Killer album cover. As a result, people using many major UK ISPs were blocked from viewing the entire article. Although the controversial cover art is still provided on the deluxe boxed edition of the album sold worldwide, the IWF classified the image of the cover as a "potentially illegal indecent image of a child". The block was accomplished by ISP proxy systems impersonating Wikipedia's servers, which had the side effects of degrading performance and left site administrators with little option but to block a significant portion of the UK from editing Wikipedia or creating accounts.

It's unclear where this censorship riff heads from here, but the ban appears clumsy on many fronts. ZDNet UK will be following the story.

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Telcos

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  • The rest of the World can still look at it

    Since the IWF claims that downloading child porn is committing child sex abuse.

    Why are the Americans and Europeans allowed to commit child sex abuse by their governments allowing them free access to that Wikipedia page? And why not the British citizens?

    Maybe the British citizens are ruled by a bunch of internet censors that is why.
    • British AND Australians

      Are ruled by censors. Really, the reason that they don't want any information out there, especially pictures of children and adults making love.... they don't want people to realize that most children are willing partners in it and are NOT being forced in any fashion (this coming from my own experiences as a child) and that in these relationships, the child has all the power over the adult because ONE word to someone inside or outside of the family about them being forced into sex (if their mother doesn't have a problem with their father forcing them into sex or vice-versa), and that person is in a SHITLOAD of trouble, if not in danger of being summarily KILLED!

      Also, unfortunately.... children have realized this, but adults have not. Children are more and more making false allegations against people (coming from being a pedosexual and having PROVEN false allegations made against me) because they are mad at the people in question or are mad about a sexual relationship with an adult or older person ending.
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    I'd say something witty, but Australia is heading the same way very shortly (maybe even more so)...
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    Why have the ISPs not blocked then? If you do a search on "virgin killer" as I am sure countless thousands of people are already doing, it links to Amazon which happily displays three versions of the image.

    While I think the graphic itself is quite distasteful, I think it should be up to law enforcement agencies to ban it from the source, and not attack organisations like Wikipedia for simply telling it like it is.
    • They cannot ban it from the source

      Because it is a piece of artwork, no matter how many people find it 'distasteful' (which is code for "I don't like this and I don't think you should see/do it!").

      Unfortunately, that is why censorship has to be TOTALLY BANNED: because, it is a slippery slope that too many people want to go down too far.... to the point where they are going off the 3,000 foot drop at the end.
      • Danger

        This is one of the most dangerous threats to freedom I have heard of. The IWF is in danger of losing it's credability as an internet police against the horrendous use of the internet to promote the exploitation of children and instead to turn itself into a victorian "cover the legs of the piano" type of decency Stasi.
        This move de-values their work, devalues the imortance of their work and causes many to wonder about their efficacy and credability to perform this task!
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    Not just Wiki they are doing a witch hunt over there.
    One of my fellow LL posted a vid about a child being swung around by his dad. At the end you see the child smiling and happy no big deal right? The police arrested him here is a link with the story.

    . We are going to have to be careful about what we say or post. Maybe even in here?
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    I wonder what they think of the "Blind Faith" album with the girl holding a spaceship model on the cover. That should wind them up as well. For whatever reason the Commonwealth seems to have taken a leave from reason.
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    It looks like a piece of art to me.
    The discomfort felt by the bastions of good taste must be set alongside the actual message of the image (you can read the Wiki still).
    This appears on the face of it to be art performing a valid function. Not just sensationalist but expressing some deeply felt and possibly unattractive reality.
    Child pornography is terrible and causes, there is no genuine doubt, untold misery to the subjects as well as damaging the public space and the minds of its users.
    But this image does not fall on either of those criteria. Like it or loath this image, we must not allow self-appointed judges and juries to over extend their moral reasoning such that only the most bland and pointless art is acceptable.
  • RE: UK ISPs flip censorship switch on Wikipedia

    They got it right when they used the phrase, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen". This album cover has been in circulation for 32 YEARS!! and they just now consider it something to block? I think that violence in any form is something far more obscene and would like to see it cut back. But it heads the news every day especially if it is particularly gruesome. The warning that "Some people may be upset at the upcoming scenes" is only a way of making sure everyone is glued to their set when it comes on. This is far worse than an album cover.
    "New Addition": Just followed up on a comment about another band Blind Faith and that cover is even more suggestive than the first. Lordy, Lordy, this group is going to have to check every album cover in existence to find more to censor. Good luck in your search, you will be there for years.
    THX 1138