IWF backs down on Wikipedia censorship

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IWF backs down on Wikipedia censorship

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has lifted its ban on Wikipedia, which slowed access to the site to a crawl in the UK.

On Saturday the IWF placed Wikipedia on its watch list, a group of web sites that are identified to internet service providers as hosting child pornography. The listing came after the site was reported to be hosting a picture a young naked girl, which was the cover The Scorpions album ‘Virgin Killer’.

The IWF listing slowed access to the site to a crawl as ISPs sought to block it and stopped edits being made by British users. However, the IWF has no rescinded its ban.

“Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure and has given careful consideration to the issues involved in this case,” said the group.

“The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978. However, the IWF Board has today (9 December 2008) considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.”

However, the founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales has now said he is investigating wether legal action can be taken against the group for its actions.

"There's no question that it's a dodgy picture, but it's an artistic protest made many years ago," he told Channel 4 News.

"But my concern isn't so much about the image. It's the ambiguous way that they are behaving. It's not clear if they are over-reaching their authority."

"As a result of their actions, the image is actually being seen by more people, it's appearing on thousands of blogs today. It will continue to be passed on. What are they going to do? Are they going to block all of the web if it continues to be spread?"

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