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7th December
2008
  

Wikicensor...

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Wikipedia is being partially blocked by UK ISPs

Wikipedia logo The following notice has appeared on Wikipedia today when many UK users attempt to edit content:

Wikipedia has been added to a 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.

According to discussions on the Wikipedia administrators noticeboard, this is because a transparent proxy has been enabled for customers of Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal. This has two effects: users cannot see content filtered by the proxies, and all user traffic passing through the proxies is given a single IP address per proxy. As Wikipedia's anti-vandalism system blocks users by IP address, one single case of vandalism by a single UK user prevents all users on that user's ISP from editing. The effect is to block all editing from anonymous UK users on that list of ISPs. Registered users can continue to edit.

The content being filtered is apparently that deemed to meet the Internet Watch Foundation's critera for child pornography in one case, this involves a 1970s LP cover art for Scorpion's Virgin Killer which, although controversial, is still widely available.

Reports on the admin noticeboard say that this filtering is easy to circumvent, either by using Wikipedia's secure server or by sending a request to find the page via parameters in the URL. However, no fix has been found nor is one expected for the blocking of anonymous authors problem.

Comment: Makes you wonder what is being prosecuted these days

8th December 2008. From Harvey on the Melon Farmers Forum

Whether a particular image is or is not indecent and of a child will be facts to be determined by a particular jury on a particular day, when judging a particular image.

The IWF clearly believe that the Wikipedia images they are blocking access to would be so determined. The ISPs involved clearly must think so too, and they will have taken legal advice before moving to block access to such a popular site. That alone should give you some idea of the kind of images which are being prosecuted in the courts in this country.

It also puts into perspective some of the claims made previously by the IWF about the quantity of sites they encounter which contain child abuse images.

From IanG

Child porn allegations? Weird. It looks like an album cover to me - hardly something primarily produced to cause sexual arousal is it? That is the current legal definition of pornography if I`m not mistaken.

And I can hardly see this photo being classified as an indecent image of a child either. I can`t see how an artistic shot of a reclining 8 year-old with all the naughty bits obscured by a broken glass effect could be.

 

9th December
2008
  

Update: A Censor's Responsibility...

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Internet censors review the over cautious ban on album cover

IWF logo The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is reviewing its decision to list as child pornography the image on one version of the album Virgin Killer by the rock band The Scorpions hosted on Wikipedia and might yet add Amazon US to its list of blocked sites for hosting the picture.

The initial decision to block the image, taken on Friday, prevented UK contributors from editing the site, and blocked some people from seeing the site at all (although they were still able to view it through Google's cache).

The decision to ban the page, which was taken after consultation with the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) agency, is now being reviewed, Robertson said. The assessment was done in partnership with law enforcement.

The Scorpions image was deemed to be 1 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the least offensive , said Robertson. The image was judged to be erotic posing with no sexual activity . It depicts a young naked girl with her genitals obscured by a crack in the camera lens.

Robertson declined to say whether Amazon would be the next to be blocked. She confirmed that the Amazon page containing the offending cover was referred to the IWF today, but that no decision would be taken while the review of the original decision was in progress.

The decision has put the IWF's methods and systems under the media spotlight. Normally the IWF, which is paid for by the EU and through a levy on the internet industry, works quietly away in its Cambridge offices. A team of four police-trained analysts plough through 35,000 URLs sent to them each year that are under suspicion of being obscene.

If an image or text page contains obscene content and is hosted in the UK, the relevant ISP is contacted and the content removed. But if it is hosted abroad, it is added instead to a blacklis" to which access is prevented by BT's CleanFeed technology. Any attempt to access that page returns a Page Not Found response.

Richard Clayton, one of the country's leading internet security experts said: We see this borderline stuff all the time; it's a no-win. The decision seems to have been based on taking the image out of context, something which might seem pretty strange - particularly given that you can go into HMV and buy a copy on the high street.

The main outcome apart from highlighting the way the British internet is censored might be to highlight the lack of cooperation between British authorities and other international bodies, he said.

The image under consideration was previously considered by the FBI in the US and they decided not to act against it.

 

12th December
2008
  

Offsite: Naked people and toilets...

Scandalous album covers

Electric Ladyland cover The international controversy surrounding the banning of the German heavy-metal band Scorpions' cover art for their 1976 album 'Virgin Killer' from Wikipedia is nothing new. Rock and roll has always been a form of rebellion challenging societal norms. Album cover art has often served a similar function, pushing the envelope of what people find too lewd, repulsive, or indecent.

...Red full article from welt.de (warning includes uncensored Virgin Killer cover)

Why the IWF was wrong to lift its ban on a Wikipedia page

See article from out-law.com

The Internet Watch Foundation faced a storm of criticism this week over its decision to add a Wikipedia entry to a blacklist of pages that ISPs block. Under pressure, the IWF removed the image from its blacklist. That decision was a mistake.

...Read full article

Update: Blocking Free

17th December 2008

the Melon Farmers Forum

Non IWF ISPs

http://www.freedom2surf.net
http://www.aaisp.net.uk/kb-broadband-realinternet.html
http://www.zen.co.uk/broadband