Online Watchdog Admits It Goofed On Wikipedia Ban; Reverses Decision

from the a-bit-late-for-that dept

After being subject to widespread ridicule for forcing Wikipedia in the UK to block a page for an album cover graphic from 32 years ago, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has withdrawn its block on the page and said it’s fine. Apparently “given the age and availability of the image,” the group no longer thinks it’s appropriate to be on the list. Of course, the age and availability of the image was true before. Though, if anything, this attempt at blocking the image only made the image more available.

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Comments on “Online Watchdog Admits It Goofed On Wikipedia Ban; Reverses Decision”

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10 Comments
SteveD says:

Re: Ladies and Gentlemen; The great firewall of England

The streisand-effect in full swing. Because not all ISP’s were signed up to the blacklist, the irony is that far more people from the UK (and the rest of the world) would have viewed the image then had it been left alone.

But this conflicts with the nature of the IWF; it shouldn’t be banning questionable material, but illegal material. There shouldn’t need to be a streisand-effect.

What you’ve got to remember is that the ISP’s actually want this system in place; they fund the organisation. Through using an independent group that creates a blacklist in collaboration with the police they actually do the UK a favour by avoiding govermet regulation that might make them vulnerable to having responsibility over how people use the net (copyright infringer’s, etc). The alternative could be the Australian system.

But what needs to happen is three things, I think. First the IWF needs to put a transparent appeals process in place. Second, the censorship should be displayed as such, rather then a 404 screen. Third, the responsibilities of the IWF should be defined by the Home Office to avoid ambiguity over these issues when its not clear if they’ve overstepped their remit.

scott parsons (user link) says:

IWF free to block other stuff

The big problem I see here though is that the IWF will be free to continue blocking other stuff online because someone somewhere doesn’t like it. In a few days most will have forgotten all about this and IWF will go on putting a fence up around freedoms.

Like steveD mentions above this type of organisation needs transparency and easy appeals processes, which is why i was happy when the wikipedia people hinted at a lawsuit.

I just hope this doesn’t disappear into the hidden back rooms again, I hate the idea of being secretly censored.

Dav says:

Danger over... for now

This is very good news indeed.

If the decision had stood then we would have been on a slippery slope to people having controversial content that could be interpreted as illegal at the far end of the law blocked. This (as always) would probably have lead to offencive content being removed and the Internet being a politically correct state in the UK.

I know this is an exaduration but i think the point I am making is clear.

Dav says:

Danger over... for now

This is very good news indeed.

If the decision had stood then we would have been on a slippery slope to people having controversial content that could be interpreted as illegal at the far end of the law blocked. This (as always) would probably have lead to offencive content being removed and the Internet being a politically correct state in the UK.

I know this is an exaggeration but i think the point I am making is clear.

If the IWF is to exist, the it needs to stick to policing content that is without question illegal rather then worrying about the borderline case.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the baby P case though. All agencies that deal with child protection in the UK have moved the line somewhat recently to cover themselves from the repercussions of making even the smallest error.

home treadmill (user link) says:

If the decision had stood then we would have been on a slippery slope to people having controversial content that could be interpreted as illegal at the far end of the law blocked. This (as always) would probably have lead to offencive content being removed and the Internet being a politically correct state in the UK.
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