UK ISPs Block Wikipedia Page; Cause Problem With UK Editing
from the unintended-consequences dept
One of the big problems with the idea of various governments around the world coming up with “blacklists” that ISPs have to block access to, is that it will always create huge questions over borderline content. At least if there’s a lawsuit that involves taking down specific illegal content, there’s due process to determine if the content is actually illegal. But handing that authority to a single entity with no outstanding review process seems quite dangerous. And, now, it’s resulted in a variety of UK ISPs, who subscribe to Internet Watch Foundation UK’s blacklist, to block a particular page on Wikipedia. The page itself is about an album, Virgin Killer, from the German band Scorpions. Apparently, the cover of the album includes a photo that many feel is child pornography.
However, in blocking out this page, there have been some unintended consequences. Apparently, the way that the ISPs are blocking access to the page involves a transparent proxy, that effectively routes all customers through a very small number of IP addresses — and that’s causing a second problem. Many of the users of those ISPs are now banned from editing any Wikipedia article. Basically, if anyone from those IPs gets on the banned list, it now affects every user, and that’s what’s happened for at least a segment of the UK population at this point.
And, of course, this action hasn’t done anything to prevent or slow down the spread of a potentially illegal image. Because of the attempted block — The Register notes the image is still available on Amazon’s UK site — plenty of others are also posting the image to point out how silly it is to set up such a block. Once again, this demonstrates the futility of such filtering systems. If certain content is illegal, go after it with laws — not a secretive filtering process that will create unintended consequences with no warning.