Monday, 8 December 2008

censored Wikipedia image

Wikipedia child image censored (BBC News, Monday, 8 December 2008)

Wikipedia page censored in the UK for 'child pornography' (Guardian blog, 8 December 2008)

I don't exactly enjoy living in a country where people are put in jail every day by narrow-minded and self-righteous judges and magistrates, for an ever increasing number of victimless crimes, thought up by a maniacal government intent on obliterating every last shred of our civil liberties. But it is an outright affront to freedom and democracy that government-funded bodies operating outside the control of the judicial system decide what is good for us to see, hear and read.

Forms of censorship that are not answerable to anyone are at the basis of every dictatorship, and countries that are democratic, at least in name, have become a lot less so because of such censorship. Those who dare speak out are often themselves censored, as in the case of Lapsiporno:

Finnish government blacklists 'free speech' site (CNET news, February 18, 2008)

In Britain, internet censorship is implemented by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which was initially only concerned with identifying child abuse websites. Through the function-creep that is inevitable with such organisations, they then started to widen their scope to material that they deemed objectionable for a variety of reasons, from obscenity to incitement to racist violence (BBC News, Friday, 24 October 2008), and all major ISPs now adopt their blacklists blindly. No one except the government and ISPs have access to the blacklist, which makes the IWF unaccountable. The censored material will of course also cover (and likely now already covers) "extreme porn", in the light of new legislation:

Porn, abuse, depravity - and how they plan to stop it (The Register, 9th October 2008)

Government finally names the day for porn ban (The Register, 26th November 2008)

The case at hand involves an album cover from 1976, which is of historical interest, notwithstanding its bad taste, and unless the decision to blacklist the image is withdrawn soon, Britain will become the laughingstock of the (supposedly) free world even more than it already is.

If you cannot access the Wikipedia page, then it is advisable to change your provider to a decent one that doesn't play ball with the nanny state, or use a proxy situated in the free world, or to be more exact, anywhere except Britain, Australia and North Korea. (Check out Relakks and Alternatively, you can see the controversial album cover here or here or here or here or here of here. That is, if you're curious what the fuss is about, and are not shocked by a naked body!

If you haven't had enough yet, check out Le Sommeil de l'Enfant J├ęsus by Benvenuto Tisi. Every day, hordes of paedophiles go on a pilgrimage to the Louvre to see it.

And what to think of The Three Graces, either the painting by Raphael or the sculpture by Antonio Canova. Those girls look rather underage don't they?

You want bondage thrown in as well? No problem. See The White Captive by Erastus Dow Palmer.

But hush! Don't tell the IWF, or a large portion of classical and neo-classical sculpture will be ostracised, only to be appreciated by a handful of scholars, authorised after thorough psychological testing that qualifies them to see such depraved and depraving material.

By the way, our friends down under are in an even worse predicament than we are. But it won't be long till we catch up:

Fake Simpsons cartoon 'is porn' (BBC News, Monday, 8 December 2008)

In Conroy’s muddy waters you'll never know what’s being filtered (Computerworld, 28/10/2008)


For an update and thorough analysis, recommended reading is:

Scorpions tale leaves IWF exposed (The Register, 9th December 2008)

Addendum 2:

IWF backs down on Wiki censorship (BBC News, Tuesday, 9 December 2008)
"IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect. We regret the unintended consequences for Wikipedia and its users."

So they couldn't foresee that blocking a Wikipedia page (and other collateral damage) would upset people? One cannot but wonder what incompetent fools are behind that organisation. It is very plausible that more harmless, or at least legal, images and textual material have ended up on the blacklist that we don't know about.

One of these days, some hacker will get hold of the blacklist, and distribute it on the web, thereby giving paedophiles the most concentrated list of filth in existence, and as we all know, the offending websites are and will always remain accessible with a minimum of technical know-how, by means of proxies, the TOR network, etc. How's that for "unintended consequences"?

The IWF is a serious threat to free speech, while having no effect whatsoever on the availability of child abuse material to those intent on finding it. Close the IWF down, now!

Addendum 3:

There are in fact now leaked blacklists for Denmark (Melonfarmers, Dec 24, 2008), Thailand (CircleID, Dec 2, 2008), and Finland as mentioned above.

1 comment:

Jens said...

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