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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

UK ISPs Are Censoring Wikipedia 668

Concerned Wikipedian writes "Starting December 4th, Wikipedia administrators noticed a surge of edits from certain IP addresses. These IPs turned out to be the proxies for the content filters of at least 6 major UK ISPs. After some research by Wikipedians, it appears that the image of the 1970s LP cover art of the Scorpions' 'Virgin Killer' album has been blocked because it was judged to be 'child pornography,' and all other attempts to access Wikimedia foundation sites from these ISPs are being proxied to only a few IP addresses. This is causing many problems for Wikipedia administrators, because much of the UK vandalism now comes from a single IP, which, when blocked, affects potentially hundreds of thousands of anonymous users who intend no harm and are utterly confused as to why they are no longer able to edit. The image was flagged by the the Internet Watch Foundation, which is funded by the EU and the UK government, and has the support of many ISPs and online institutions in the UK. The filter is fairly easy to circumvent simply by viewing the article in some other languages, or by logging in on the secure version of Wikipedia."
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UK ISPs Are Censoring Wikipedia

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  • Congratulations on trying to shape Internet access. Just imagine if something actually IMPORTANT came along the UK didn't want you to see!
  • Re:That's OK. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:34AM (#26020051) Journal

    To the administrators of Wikipedia:

    Play hardball. Block those 6 IPs from any access whatsoever, explain why, stick to your guns.

    The worst thing that will happen is, people in the UK will become stupider, while those who are not participating in this censorship will be advantaged, so your enemies will diminish themselves by their own hand and your friends will become more powerful allies by virtue of the gift you have given them.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nicnab ( 1000987 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:38AM (#26020077)
    I'm so glad. This is clearly a step that will relieve many children from suffering. I think we should stop talking about child abuse now and move on to the next big problem. Let's now censor [] and thus end and finally win the war on terror. It's about time because I can't stand hearing the phrase anymore.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:42AM (#26020115) Homepage

    I could see it... I am not being filtered. Frankly, I don't see child porn... I can see where some might think so, however. For something to be porn, it has to inspire me to touch myself... this does not. A female has to have that shape of a woman which this child does not. And of course the "naughty bit" must be showing. It's not. But I suppose people who actually like that sort of thing would find alternative sources of access to this art. Close one door and there will be hundreds more available.

  • by muffen ( 321442 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:50AM (#26020179)
    It's on the register at least []
    I do hope it hits mainstream media like the BBC, checked it just now but no mention of it.

    Makes me remember the quote that was posted in this [] thread:
    "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation" - quote from Mein Kampf.....

    Seriously though, do they actually believe that pedophiles are sitting and watching that one image on wikipedia?
    ...which by the way, you can find quite easily if you just make a search on google []. Yet another example of something dumb that affects people who have nothing to do with child pornography, and does absolutely nothing for people that are interested in it.
  • Angry Be Customer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @10:53AM (#26020215) Journal

    I've already complained from their contacts page []. Now I am wondering which ISP to move to. Obviously anyone with Phorm is right out (BT, for instance), as is anyone with a strict download cap. Any suggestions?

    Like everyone else here, it's not that I want to look at child porn, but rather that I object on principle to censorship. I didn't realise I was helping to fund this sort of thing [] with my broadband subscription

    Extreme example I know, but today it's "criminally obscene content" and "incitement to racial hatred", and tomorrow it's the British equivalents of "Tianamen Square" and "Democracy". If I have a choice, I'm not funding that.

  • Re:That's OK. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:01AM (#26020279)

    I predicted it! Just yesterday I said it's only a matter of time until wikipedia get filtered by the Australian. Well I was off by about 10,000 miles but I was right that SOME government would eventually filter wikipedia & suppress freedom of knowledge.

    And I agree with the parent poster. If the UK Government is going to stupidly censor the internet, then block the whole damn country until the UK citizens rise-up and demand "freedom" and "liberty" from their Parliamentarian Oligarchs.

    BTW here's the picture: []

    Wow. It's a naked girl. Contrary to being insulted, I think it's beautiful. The naked human body is a testament to the Creator's majesty and perfection, not a sin, and I see no reason why we should cover-up a naked human anymore than we cover-up a naked deer or naked bear or naked seal. There is *nothing* shameful here. "Because God created it, the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty." - Pope John Paul II.

  • Re:Links (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:08AM (#26020349)

    Hey, kiddie peddler, the only reason you were "disgusted with it" was because you found it erotic and hated yourself for it. I see nothing erotic about that picture. It does not elicit any sexual excitement from me. It is art. That's it. The child in question was probably robbed of nothing. Nice try, douche bag.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:08AM (#26020351)

    Virgin Media user - they just drop the connection so it looks like the website you're connecting to has some sort of problem.

    Absolutely despicable - I'm less bothered about the censorship aspect than I am about the "breaking the Internet" aspect. If they're going to go dropping random connections because they don't like what may be transmitted in the packet, how on Earth am I meant to reliably troubleshoot any internet issues?

  • by coder111 ( 912060 ) <coder@rrmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:23AM (#26020479)
    It's erotica. Porn = explicit SEX, or naked people in a way designed to arouse you sexually. Erotica= just naked people, can be art.

    That picture is more art than porn, even though it has an underage naked girl in it.

  • Re:Links (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:25AM (#26020491)
    I just took a look at the image myself

    Most likely because of this action a lot of people have gone looking for this image who would otherwise not have done so.
  • Looking at the picture in question, I have little doubt that it would be considered child porn under the modern laws of at least US and UK, and possibly most European countries.

    You neglect to add that most advertisements for childrens suncream would also be considered child porn, as would half the contents for a family pictures album.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:43AM (#26020691) Journal

    If somebody, anybody, finds it sexually stimulating then it can be pornography.

    Now that's just asking for trouble. Should we chop off everyone's feet because someone out there has a foot fetish?

  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:51AM (#26020781) Homepage Journal

    David Hamilton's The Age of Innocence [] would agree with you.

    Nudity != Sex

    Naked Pictures != Porn

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:52AM (#26020785) Journal

    Can you point me to the court ruling where this image was found to be child porn? Or has the UK done away with the hassle of trials, instead preferring just to go by what it thinks might be illegal?

  • Re:That's OK. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adrianwn ( 1262452 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:55AM (#26020823)

    "Because God created it, the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty." - Pope John Paul II.

    Speak for yourself. I for one do not want to see the nude bodies of 80% of my fellow citizens (or 99.9% of all slashdotters).

  • Re:That's OK. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dominious ( 1077089 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:01PM (#26020861)
    Indeed, if I saw that cover without the tag "child pornography" as input in my mind I would have not thought of anything to do with child pornography in the first place, rather some deeper meaning, maybe what could have been the actual intention of the band. ( [])

    Well done UK, you screwed our heads now!
  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:02PM (#26020875) Journal

    I personally would of liked to see the CPS bring charges against Wikipedia. ... I'd prosecute the publishers (Wikipedia)

    Why? Whilst you might argue that the record company profited from this image, how can this be said of a free encyclopedia that is using the image solely to document an encyclopedic article on the album? If anyone should be prosecuted by your argument, it should be the record company - though I wonder why they haven't done so in 30 years of child porn being illegal in the UK...

    Lets be real clear here... this is an image that is of a minor in a sexually provocative pose being used for profit (marketing). It is child pornography. That's not in a grey area

    Really? Well thanks for clearing it up. Whenever we are unclear of whether a particular nude image is "indecent" or not, we can just go ask Numen on Slashdot, as he obviously knows.

    Or ... rather than debating on forums, we could get some legal experts to argue the case, in front of, oh I don't know, some randomly selected members of the public who could then make a decision, having heard arguments from both sides?

  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:12PM (#26020961)

    Actually, reading the wikipedia article on Virgin Killer, it seems that it is bonafide child pornography. Or, regardless of your definition of "pornography", there's a naked, under-age* girl on the cover.

    Well, so does Nirvana's Nevermind [], except it's a boy instead of a girl. So maybe, just maybe, you may want to rethink your definition of "child pornography".

    Personally, I think the picture in question is in really bad taste, but I dread the prospect of it being censored and/or made illegal even more, so put me in the "fuck you, UK!" camp.

  • Sigh...are we going backwards or what? These albums have been out forever, and are classic....why are people having such a fit now?

    Look buddy. You either start screaming during the Two Minutes Hate, or people are going to start asking questions. OK?

  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:40PM (#26021183) Homepage

    so because it's possible for a musician to use nude images of minors as a publicity stunt, all portrayals of nude minors are automatically publicity stunts? i'm sorry, that's not a logical conclusion. and it's hardly a good reason to completely toss out freedom of expression.

    you may as well say that, because a parent could take nude photos of their child for the purpose of distributing it as child pornography, then society has a duty to stop all parents from taking photos of their children in the nude. or because an employee could use his paycheck to buy a sawed off shotgun and shoot his entire family, companies should not pay their employees.

  • by VagaStorm ( 691999 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:59PM (#26021327) Homepage
    Just to show how silly this is, this article should be blocked to since its full of it: []

    That being said, I think theres a lot more focus on this kind of things these days compared to when that album where released, which is a good thing. Even if it seems silly to a lot of us, since certain individual might look at it as porn and not art, it seems legit to at least discuss what is ok.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @01:33PM (#26021625) Homepage

    At some point the community at large has a right -a duty, even- to stop this kind of crass commercial exploitation

    There's only one thing I hate more than the police, and that's the morality police. Who are you to say what is and isn't acceptable ? I'm unfazed by these album covers, they don't do anything for me, might as well be a "naked" chihuahua.

    I don't think sexually repressed cultures should be making broad statements about sexuality. That's probably how you got into this mess in the first place!

  • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Sunday December 07, 2008 @01:43PM (#26021741)

    And half the people in here are actually discussing if this lousy photo is in fact child pornography or not.

    Freedom may have gotten bad press recently, but do we seriously need to filter the whole freakin' internet because of indecent pictures?

    As both seem to be conflicting goals at the bottom of the problem, what do we do about it?

    Is protection of children really, truly, positively more important than free dissemination of information?

    Internet filtering is a digital issue and as such only works on an all-or-nothing basis - either we filter ALL of the internet or NOTHING. There is no middle ground, because the first established filter is capable of filtering any and all information AND immediately alarming law enforcement when someone hits the filter rules.

    ONE (1) filter set up to protect the dearest, most innocent child can be subverted to a general tool of oppression - with just one additional line in the filtering rule.

    So, ultimately, we have to ask ourselves:

    Do we want our children
    - free access to all information, including anti-government activism AND perverted erotic material
    - or to never see any objectional material AND never see any blog or news site critic of the government?

    Which choice is worse? Which type of state (or "regime" in some cases) has caused more suffering and death to children?

    What, if we could only allow or disallow the government to imprison dissenters AND perverts? Will we sacrifice our childrens freedom for our childrens chastity?

  • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @02:02PM (#26021927) Homepage

    Even if it seems silly to a lot of us, since certain individual might look at it as porn and not art, it seems legit to at least discuss what is ok.

    And what if it's porn for someone and not for someone else? A picture of a horse with an erect penis is porn for some, but I sure hope that someone don't start to claim that we should censor all images of that just because animal sex is illegal. What about other fetishes, for example people who are turned on by uniforms or latex.

    I wonder why so many people are so bothered with what other people like and don't like.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @02:22PM (#26022161) Homepage

    Yes, it does work perfectly, because it works perfectly against the 99% of the population that the censors care about. The fact that you or I can get around it with trivial ease is irrelevant. Ask the Chinese.

  • by Minstrel Boy ( 787690 ) <> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @02:33PM (#26022289)

    So why aren't the UK record stores being prosecuted for selling this "child pornography"?


  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @02:40PM (#26022383)

    I agree. It is child porn. This cover is disgusting.

    I have very mixed feelings about this. I was expecting a cut-and-dry case of unwarranted censorship as overcompensation by prudish government officials for their hidden pedophilic tendencies. But it's not that simple, and, as you note, the cover is not entirely innocent.

    But I say that my feelings are "mixed" because going so far as to call it "child porn" somehow seems excessive. Society has decided that the production of child pornography is among the worst, most despicable crimes. Yet somehow this album cover does not seem to fit this characterization. It's borderline to be sure, but would it be appropriate to put, say, the band members or their photographer on a sex offender registry? I don't think so. Somehow, despite the fact that there is some sexualization of the girl in the image, the intent does not seem entirely pornographic.

    As for the image itself:

    On the one hand, the cover does have the girl in a pose that implies, through a degree or two of association, sex. It's not explicitly sexual; she's not engaging in or pantomiming any sex-act. But the image is also not of a girl who "just happens" to be nude. This brings me to my first question: What about the girl's pose evokes sex? Is it that the pelvis is tilted up, and is closer to the camera than the rest of the body? Is it that she is posed to provide an entirely unoccluded view of the (beginnings of) breasts, and to place them in the center of the image? I'm having a hard time saying what, in concrete terms, makes this pose sexualizing. Part of the reason I ask is that classical and Renaissance art adopted a number of stylized poses which, if we're honest, were partially erotic in intent. But this pose is slightly different. So I'm wondering what the important distinction is -- or if there is one.

    More problematically, the broken glass effect radiates out from between the legs. This is obviously intended to emphasize the (occluded) vagina; I don't think there's any denying this.

    So does all this add up to porn? I don't know. It's borderline. But then, that itself is part of the purpose of art; in fact, I sense that it may have become art's primary purpose: to explore boundaries, to shock, to offend sensibilities.

    All of which makes it very hard for me to make a judgment here. But this, I suspect, is itself a reason not to censor: I think it's probably reasonable to say that censorship, if it is ever appropriate, is only so when there isn't any doubt; i.e., the benefit of the doubt should go to free speech.

  • Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lazarian ( 906722 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:17PM (#26022719)
    they should ban the Pulitzer winning image of that young girl from Vietnam running naked, screaming after being burnt by a napalm attack as well. I mean, she was NAKED! How horrible that people are allowed to view something like that. It's sick!
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:22PM (#26022795) Journal

    Thanks. Well, if people start censoring Pink Floyd, then the world has come to a sorry state and brains have stopped working.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:33PM (#26022913) Homepage
    Well I don't agree that a picture of a naked child is automatically child porn (otherwise my parents are in trouble for pictures of me in a bath) but the problem is if you give an inch pedos will take a mile. It's something that society would have to be vigilant about and that's the problem. No one wants to put any effort into it and would rather ban anything that could possibly be abused.

    So I'd like to say it's ok. I don't find anything remotely sexual about it. However no matter what their country's laws are it's clear it's supposed to be controversial and they wanted to shock people rather than be art so maybe it should be classed as flat out child porn as it has been.

    To be honest I'd rather see parents banned from dressing their 10 year old daughters like whores in skimpy clothes with sexually suggestive phrases on them. That is ten times worse than some album cover.
  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:39PM (#26022989)

    This debating is pointless. We need to go back to the key issue:

    - Was this little girl (now a 40-year-old woman) harmed by being photographed naked? Did a man force sex upon her?

    The answer is no. Nobody's harmed,
    therefore no virtim and no rights violated.

  • by janrinok ( 846318 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @04:07PM (#26023277)

    Is it that the pelvis is tilted up, and is closer to the camera than the rest of the body

    Er, I think that the knees are much closer to the camera than the pelvis - therefore it MUST be pornography!

    I'm having a hard time saying what, in concrete terms, makes this pose sexualizing.

    I think that the phrase you are trying to say is 'Nothing'. Other than the title of the album it is simply a picture of a naked individual. If anyone finds it sexually arousing then perhaps there it is something wrong with them and not with the cover?

    So does all this add up to porn? I don't know. It's borderline.

    No, it isn't. This is more symptomatic of society's problem that it cannot accept that, although we are all born naked, we mustn't ever be seen that way again. If you go to many beaches in Europe (and I suspect elsewhere) you will see people of all ages completely naked and continuing with all the things that normal people do at the beach. Sunbathing, playing games, reading, eating, drinking, swimming. It doesn't signify the end of the world as we know it, nor is it something that attracts anything more than routine interest by almost everyone else. OK, you get the odd giggling schoolboy but that is probably more of a reflection of his upbringing than of anything else. We mocked the Victorians for their prudish views and now someone in the UK seems to think that we should regress back to such times. We will be draping tables with cloths soon so that sensitive ladies cannot view naked table legs!

    As several others have already commented, we all take pictures of our children in various states of dress and undress - sometimes young girls play at dressing up and perhaps their parents let them try makeup. Not as a matter of routine but simply for the enjoyment of a moments play. It doesn't make the child any more sexually provocative then she was a few moments before but there are some who believe differently. I cannot agree with them, and they should seek help.

    If it wasn't for the album's title it would have been a non-event. When it was released it caused the desired scandal but was still available in the shops. Why on earth it should be deemed to be even more scandalous today is beyond me.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @04:11PM (#26023325)

    If you want to see it, go down to your local record shop. The image is a CD cover, and is openly on sale.

    But then that could be used as evidence against him as well. After all, he went to the record store to view an image of a naked child. While the act was innocent, the intent was criminal, a thought crime. A non-paedophile wouldn't be guilty of anything looking at the album cover, but a paedophile would, just like a paedophile passing a park would clearly be there to peek on kids instead of just passing by, and a paedophile living near a school would only do so to have easy access to kids rather than because residential areas usually have schools built next to them. Oh, and any use of cryptography, such as Tor, is because he is trying to hide he's looking at child porn.

    It kinda reminds me of a trial in a movie version of Ivanhoe I once saw. A woman was accused of witchcraft, and her accuser told the court how she had killed a dog and eaten pieces of it raw. The judge then asked if the accuser meant the entirely healthy dog which was sniffing around in the courtroom, to which the accuser answered that the witch had healed it with her magic powers, thus further proving that she was a witch.

    If someone accuses you of being a paedophile, everything you do can be used as evidence of not only that but also of your intent to molest kids. It's just a modern-day witch hunt. Give it a few decades and the howling mob will go after the next target, just like they switched from hunting witches to communists to paedophiles. Not that it'll do any good to their victims, of course; but such is life, and a howling mob of self-righteous vigilantes on a witch hunt is really not all that different from child molesters: they take their enjoyment from whom they will, and the victim can go to hell for all they care.

    It is depressing that we haven't gotten any better since the Dark Ages, but that too is life, I guess.

  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @07:16PM (#26025021) Journal

    US law isn't important when discussing a ban happening in the UK.

    I know slashdot has a bias towards America but that's simply ridiculous.

  • I think that the phrase you are trying to say is 'Nothing'. Other than the title of the album it is simply a picture of a naked individual. If anyone finds it sexually arousing then perhaps there it is something wrong with them and not with the cover?

    I'd like to respectfully disagree, because there's a difference between "arousing" and "sexualizing". The picture is not arousing, but I would certainly agree with the GP that the image is sexualizing, in the sense that it focuses on the girl's purported sexuality (though not in a way meant to arouse, or at least not obviously intentionally so). As the GP says, the girl's pose makes it quite clear that she doesn't just happen to be naked.

    I certainly would not call it pornography, however, as the picture does not seem to be intentionally taken to be arousing. That's not really the matter here, though, I think. You state that you think that this is an extension of society's problem with accepting that people are born naked, but I would disagree with that, too. I rather think that this is just a problem with society taking its zeal against child pornography much too far.

    The zeal against child pornography is, to a very large extent, justified, but what has come to pass is that society has turned from the actual reasons why child pornography is bad, to a general stance against child pornography in whatever shape, form or nature it appears in. That's why this image is being censored. It's close to being child pornography, and therefore it must be immediately banned, and its creators burned at the stake. Preferably immediately!

    What they miss is, of course, that child pornography isn't just bad because it exists, but because of the effects it has on the children involved. Outright child pornography more often than not has children either being abused, or being fooled in such a way that they will come to regret it later in life. Furthermore, the very usage of child pornography fuels the industry that causes such crimes to be committed. Of course, that's a bad thing and should be stopped by society. In this case, though, that hasn't happened. The Wikipedia article makes it clear that the model has expressed that she does not regret the picture, and there's no reason to think that these things will fuel the child pornography industry in any way. No crime has been committed, and there's no reason to censor or punish anything.

    Furthermore, the zeal against child pornography has definitely been taken too far. I'm seeing it being used to power anything from censorship to surveillance, and I am not convinced. It's like the Spanish inquisition! Is it a hideous crime to abuse children to produce child pornography? Of course! Is it worse than murder? Very doubtfully so. Should the enforcement against it affect our civil liberties? Definitely not!

  • by computational super ( 740265 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:04AM (#26027725)
    Is protection of children really, truly, positively more important than free dissemination of information?

    It's more important than anything. Far more important than any freedom you might think you deserve. Dude - little children are dying while you whine about freedom.

    Well, ok, they're not dying. It just sounds better than "little children are being naked."

    Well, actually - they are dying, all over the world, from starvation, and disease, and neglect, and lots of other stuff. But nobody cares about that. Because there's no perverts involved in that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:12AM (#26029745)

    Some will agree with you. Some won't.

    Probably you will agree too with those who think that a woman's face is sexually provocative (nothing is more attracting than the beauty of a face) and must be covered whenever they go out in public.

    Oh! That's not a grey area, it's indecent and point blank illegal to go out without their burkas. It must be punished. Or at least, it's so in some countries.

    Who is an hypocrite?

    Sorry, I know it was a plain troll, but could not help it.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe