Internet Filters Proposed for Online Casinos Block Wikipedia
Politicians desperate for ways to control and censor the free flow of information on the Internet are disappointed with the results found through blacklisting and filtering in Great Britain. Proponents of the systems want to use the technology to block what they consider "inappropriate conduct", as Australian lawmakers refer to pornography and online gambling sites. Of course, inappropriate is in the eye of the beholder; China classifies political thought and expression in the blacklisted category.
The Internet Watch Foundation is a British regulatory agency that decides what Internet sites the rest of the public should be allowed to view. The foundation reported that they were alerted to a page on Wikipedia about the rock band the Scorpions, and their album "Virgin Killer."
The Wikipedia article featured a photo of the album cover, which features a nude young girl, possibly underage. The IWF blacklisted the page, even though the album with original cover is sold without restriction throughout the Western world.
The blacklisting led to the reporting of the page to British Internet service providers, 95% of whom use the IWF guidelines. The page was blocked from view by most UK citizens. But the result is that many residents now cannot access Wikipedia at all.
Further, for those who sometimes can view Wikipedia, the editorial functions which allow the site to accept contributions of knowledge and editing from viewers do not work. Meanwhile, Wikipedia attorney Mike Godwin says the image has never been declared illegal in any jurisdiction. In fact, the same picture is available at the album's site on Amazon.com, without discussion of blacklisting Amazon.
Supporters of using Internet blacklists, blocks, and filters have to see that unintentional harm results from trying to prevent communication of knowledge. In Australia, the estimate is that as much as 10% of legitimate content may be blocked by filtering errors.
Also, the idea of what should be blocked varies with each individual, let alone from country to country. Such heavy-handed techniques may be suitable for repressed China, where Wikipedia is intentionally blocked. They are certainly not suited for governments supposedly cherishing free speech and individual freedom.
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|Posted by: Abbey||When: 12/08/2008 10:59:29 PM EST|
|Wow, great article! The thing is, let's hope that governments realize through these tests that censorship does not work. Let's also hope that other governments learn from what other governments are doing. Isn't that what we tell children in grade school why we need to study history, so that we learn from the past and don't repeat it? I wish I was more optimistic about this world. Let's hope Barack helps change my attitude.|