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Watching Big Brother

So, who's heard of the Internet Watch Foundation? Me neither, but we should have. If you're in the UK - and especially if you're with certain ISPs - they're deciding what you're allowed to look at on the internet. El Reg has the story:

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."


The "ostensible child porn" was a Scorpions album cover from 1976, incidentally. Apart from the "secret censorship" issue - I certainly didn't know that my ISP was limiting my internet access based on a list from a non-accountable association - what's really aggravating me is that not only are they censoring my internet use, they're lying about it. If I follow a link that they've censored, I get a "404 not found", rather than a "Censored". Grrrr. I really like my ISP, and there are workarounds to the censorship, but this sucks. I'm thinking of phoning them just to register a complaint, but I don't know if it'll do any good.

On the bright side, people seem to be making a fuss about it. It's probably lucky that they've managed to be so incompetent as to manage to block most UK users on these ISPS (Virgin Media, Be Unlimited/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon, and Opal) from editing Wikipedia, otherwise it wouldn't be getting nearly so much attention. And of course, thanks to the Streisand effect, the censored page in question is currently getting nearly twice as many hits as any other wiki page.

Can't stop the signal.

Comments

dakegra
Dec. 7th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
hmm. I'm on plusnet and I can see the wiki page (and image)

am I missing something? Or have they fixed it?
zagreb2
Dec. 8th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
>am I missing something? Or have they fixed it?

They've almost-certainly fixed it. Like I said, I don't think this was IWF bullheadedly trying to stop people viewing an image, it was most probably someone somewhere being a jobsworth and overextending the definition of child porn to mean "picture of a naked girl on the cover of an album that's been available for decades". They did the wrong thing, they've fixed the issue. That's it.

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