back to article Why the IWF was right to ban a Wikipedia page

There has been a storm of controversy over a decision by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to blacklist a page of Wikipedia. But the criticism of Britain's online watchdog is unfair and hypocritical. Last Thursday, the IWF received a complaint from a member of the public about an image that appeared on a Wikipedia entry for …


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  1. David Hicks
    Dead Vulture

    Sod off

    "Without such an intermediary, the UK would have a less effective means of controlling images of child abuse on the internet. Yes, that is a form of censorship; but not all censorship is evil. Wikimedia should know that."

    If we "must" have censorship in the UK then I want it done by the government. Not that I have any faith in them but at least at that point it's subject to some form of democratic review. Censorship by stealth from self-appointed moral arbiters (puritans and busybodies, it seems) is not my idea of freedom.

    I didn't sign up to have my internet filtered by these morons.

    And yes, they are to blame for the inability of almost the entire UK population to edit wikipedia. The scheme used passes any request for a page from a recognised "bad" IP address through the IWF proxies.

    If the IWF had implemented the proxy scheme correctly (IE used the header to give the originators IP address) this mess wouldn't have happened. Do your damned research properly.

    They were also stupid enough to block the article but not the image. Not only are the IWF a bunch of PC morons, they're clearly also technically inept.

    Me, I'm getting sick of all this moral panic. Sure, we want to prevent child abuse, but need we be so scared of any form of nudity?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before anyone else does it,

    I'd like to laugh heartily about them being equivalent in quality to regular encyclopedias.

    Saying that, I use it quite a bit and it's really very useful and accurate for the stuff I use it for. Pretty much the only unreliable bits are all religion, pop-culture and a load of other dross anyway. So for the bits that a regular encyclopedia would cover, they're probably not far off.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    And one more point

    "Amazon should get rid of it too, or, at the very least, block the image from UK visitors. (I don't know how US laws would interpret the Scorpions' image.)"

    If it is beholden on the IWF to censor/restrict Wikipedia, then it is beholden on them to do exactly the same thing to ALL SITES hosting the same image or linking to it. END OF DISCUSSION. To Amazon should get blocked, as of now.

    Why is it up to Amazon to remove the image, but Wikipedia to be censored? I have no great love of the Wiki, but I detect a whiff of anti-wikiness in this article rather than any attempt at journalism.

    In fact, I think I will find that image on Amazon and report it now. If the IWF do not block it, I guess the police will have to get involved.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For God's sake, think of the children

    So Struan, should the sickening kiddie porn at be blocked too?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have missed the point here

    You've chosen to pick on one of the people who commented on Rory Cellan-Jones' article but have ignored the other comments. Have you read the comments on The Register?

    There are currently 245 comments on that page. I do think you should read comments 1, 7, 12, 25, 32, 37,38, 89, 92, 102, 105, 121, 140, 145, 160, 167, 170, 177, 178, 184, 186, 188, 195, 205, 210, 222 and 236. Then respond individually to each comment.

    Then you should read and respond to the comments on The Register which ask valid questions.

    There needs to be an open discussion about the IWF, its methodology, its transparency and accountability. Its aims may be noble but what actual status does the IWF have in law? Please explain this to us so we can understand whether or not it is a self-appointed group lacking in transparency and accountability.

    Anything self-appointed needs to be regulated and subject to proper public methodologies, transparency and a challenge procedure.

    Is any of the above true of the IWF?

  6. Austin Chamberlain

    Still the wrong decision

    If this is an indecent image, why is no-one facing gaol for it? Either it's child abuse and the perpetrators should be on trial, or it's a slightly tasteless rock band image and should be ignored. This spotty, wishy-washy, banned-on-Wikipedia-but-not-on-Amazon (because they'll sue us) approach is just pandering to the easily outraged and wasting valuable time that could be spent on things that actually cause harm.

    Personally, I'm more worried about the people who are complaining here; if the first thing they think of when they see a picture of a naked child is "SEX!!!", then surely the problem is with them, not with the picture?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Why the IWF was wrong to ban a Wikipedia page

    Simply because the image is not indecent. It'd been airbrushed and edited to not show the genetalia or nipples, and if a huge amount of skin makes something indecent then never go to a beach.

    In the 30 years since the album was released it's recieved a huge amount of controversy, but tellingly it's never been banned. It's been voluntarily withdrawn and reissued as the band realised they made a mistake, but never banned. Surely if the content of the coverart was illegal it'd have been banned from sale a long time ago?

    Who are the IWF to arbitually decide with no form of recourse (you can only appeal to the IWF, and then they state their appeal decision is final) what is and isn't illegal. I'm willing to bet their staff have never so much as stepped foot in a law school, yet alone studied in one, so who are they to decide what is illegal in cases such as this? We have an entire legal system to deal with that.

    Sure they do a good job most the time, when cases are clear cut, but they seem to be erring on the side of caution with a "well it might be illegal, so lets block it" when it should be "well it might be legal, lets leave it until we know for sure", this is unacceptable for an unelected and unanswerable body, they have to be sure that when they block something they are 100% correct, in this case they can't be.

    As for not having the facility to just block images, I suggest they go back to the drawing board and redo their system as it is a trivial matter, the very fact that they can't just block images when their remit is soley based on images speaks wonders of the inadequacies of the body. Censorship, where required, should always be the minimum amount possible, not a "well, lets just block it all to make sure we get the tiny bit we actually want to block", I doubt the IWF are even acting legally by arbitually blocking entire pages like this.

    Mines the one with the books being burnt.

  8. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    Missing the point

    The main criticism is the hamfisted way in which the IWF went about banning this image. Relatively few people had heard about the group or the album, never mind the cover - now everybody has. They've brought it to the attention of every pervert who might be aroused by it. They've caused the image to be replicated worldwide.

    The IWF claims to "work in partnership with the online industry, law enforcement, government, the education sector, charities, international partners and the public to minimise the availability of this content, specifically, child sexual abuse ...". They seem to have done precisely the reverse - in spades!

  9. Danny Silver badge

    legal question

    Isn't this going to blow most 'downloaded kiddie porn' convictions out of the water ?

    The IWF banning this picture indicates they are able to ban any illegal webpage. They have assumed responsiblity for what images I can and cannot see on the internet. Therefore any image I can still see on the internet is IWF approved, and the IWF, and perhaps the website owner, should be prosecuted instead of me.

    If I walk into a newsagent and buy a pornographic magazine and then am prosecuted for that magazine carrying an illegal image, surely the newsagent, publisher and regulator are to blame more than I am ?

  10. Neil Hoskins
    Thumb Up

    I agree

    Entirely. Apart from anything else, Wikipedia have fallen into the same trap as many spanked spammers: blaming the list maintainer rather than the admin using the list. The same counter-argument applies: it's my network and I'll run it how the hell I like. If I want to use a blacklist then I will. If I want to use an upstream who uses a blacklist then I will. If I don't then I won't.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Well, they've succeeded... getting the image viewed by as many people as possible. I for one (of many millions no doubt) was on google image search as soon as the news appeared to see what the fuss was about. Frankly the answer is, the fuss is about nothing. The main potentially "indecent" area has been carefully censored by a broken glass effect, and I'm certain there are many much more "explicit" holiday snaps of people's kids on the beach.

    Admittedly, the pose could be perceived as provocative, but the interesting thing there, is that the provocation is in the eye of the beholder. The image is presumably intentionally unsettling for that very reason. If we ban this, we close off quite a large avenue of art. Naturally, I'm anti child-porn, as should be any normal member of society. This is not child porn. Keep an eye on the wedge people... this could be the thin end.

    AC because I'm basically admitting to having a potentially illegal image in my internet cache...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Hypocrisy? Nope.

    No, it's not hypocrisy. It is an eensy-weensy bit ironic at most.

    Wikipedia complains about the IWF for filtering the information we see. But quite obviously Wikipedia does the same thing. It has editors, after all, and their purpose is to filter what we see.

    That's not exactly earth-shattering news, though, is it?

    The IWF's move is a lot more serious than that. I can choose whether to use Wikipedia, having regard for its likely editorial bias. However, if my ISP starts filtering pages on the basis of a nod and a wink from the IWF, then that's blanket censorship. How do I know what else they might be blocking, of a political nature maybe? Once they've shown that their judgement is flawed, we have to start worrying. And the fact that nowhere else in the world has any concerns about this image which has been freely available for years means that their judgement is flawed, in my opinion.

    And the Reg legal argument doesn't hold a drop of water either. If the image is illegal, the web site is breaking the law whether or not the IWF blocks it. So are lots of other web sites.

    And then there's the fact that the IWF is blocking the text and not the image. So how exactly does that fit with the law? Is the text surrounding an image also illegal by association now?

    Get your act together Register. You're talking gonads.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burqas for all

    Anyone can become a wikipedian and as a result contribute to decisions about what should and should not be on wikipedia.

    Discussion of what should be considered an indecent image has proved to be controversial. Anyone can say that all photographs of women not wearing burqas are indecent without fear of being locked up. Arguing that the current laws are excessive is more risky.

    People are confident that even if we do change the people in government, the next lot will be just as bad. As a result, the IWF and the companies that fund it out of our broadband fees are a target for people's irritation. If the IWF want to change that and still profit from censoring the web then they should lobby for laws that protect children instead of giving a monopoly on naughty pictures to criminals.

  14. Daniel Garcia
    Thumb Down

    You are a troll!!!

    and i want my five pounds!

  15. Duncan Hothersall

    More questions than answers

    Personally I have very little interest in what the IWF thinks might be illegal, because it is not a body competent to judge such things under UK law. That said, I am sure there is a benefit to them making their best estimate and making available a list of URLs which it thinks might house potentially illegal content. That way, those who are concerned can consult such a list and take action accordingly. Some might even choose to empower a third party to monitor such a list and take pre-emptive action on their behalf. I wouldn't, but I can imagine that some might.

    It is a huge leap from that to a situation in which an ISP takes this non-legal opinion, and implements a transparent proxy of the "offending" site which alters their users' interaction with that site making pages appear missing, AND FAILS TO INFORM THEIR USERS THEY ARE DOING SO.

    It is a direct analogue of the Phorm situation - users pay for connection to the internet, not a connection to a version of the internet amended for the benefit of a third party. Users have every right to be angry and feel let down about this. ISPs simply should not be transforming content.

    As for the other mealy mouthed points in this opinion piece, they are dubious at best. The Wikipedia page in question housed a thoughtful and rounded discussion of the album art, putting it into context and exploring the criticism it had received. It is simply not good enough to say that this textual content was censored for simplicity's sake. It is no harder to add a .jpg URL to a watchlist as it is to add a .html URL.

    Witness the difference between Demon Internet's action, which was the show the page in its entirety and then simply *warn* users that clicking through to the full size image might be illegal, and Virgin Media's, which was to transparently proxy the page in question and pretend it simply didn't exist.

    The bottom line is this: I didn't sign up for a censorship service. I don't want a censorship service. If I want to read stuff that someone else thinks I shouldn't it's down to me to decide. And if I want to view an image that someone else thinks I shouldn't, even if they think I'd be committing an offence if I did, it is still MY DECISION to commit that offence if I want to.

    I don't care how righteous the IWF thinks it's being, nor how indignant Wikipedia is. I care that my internet connection delivers me what is actually on the internet, not some nannied version of it.

    That's why there was and continues to be an outcry over this.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point

    The Author misses the key point - Wikipedia was not notified and told to take down an unlawful image by a public authority with the vares to do so. ISPs started blocking a page which had a massive impact on legitimate users.

    Surely an organisaton would have the ability to contact Wikipedia and ask them to implement a takedown and if this was refused, to proceed with the notification fo the URL?

    Or did the IWF fancy cashing in on the Wiki glamour?

  17. Colin Millar
    Thumb Up

    Stalin would be proud

    Wikipedia complaining about censorship? That's good. The organisation that revitalised the idea of the non-person has a moan when someone blocks their child-porn stash. Of course it is but a minor hiccup on their road to the complete corporate ownership of all knowledge.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    "may be illegal" too vague a reason for blocking the image or whatever part of Wikipedia is necessary in order to enforce the block.

    Assuming that the author of the article is a lawyer, he should know that precise definitions are a necessary part of that profession. So either the image is illegal under current UK law, or it is not. If it is, then a block is within the IWF's remit and can be blocked, and the police should investigate anyone hosting or accessing the image - this includes any online retailer with this item in stock and any physical shop, as well as Wikipedia. If it is not illegal, then the IWF should dismiss the complaint and remove the block.

    Icon, because someone's arbitrary opinion should not be a good enough reason for censorship.

  19. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Erm, FAIL

    From a legal perspective, this may be accurate. I am not a lawyer.

    The uproar, however, has mainly come from the fact that we were not told the page was being censored. Most ISPs, I beleive following the IWFs guidelines, 404'ed it. This leads to one question: How many of the 404s we get while surfing are real, and how many are blocked content? What are they censoring? We have no idea, because they will not tell us.

    Some other issues involved are:

    * This 'voluntary' scheme was forced on the ISPs

    * The IWF are not accountable to anyone, and are basically self-appointed moral guardians.

    * I beleive I read that artwork is treated differrently by law. This is artwork and, in no way, sexual.

    * The IWF filter is VERY easy to bypass, so it is not stop kiddie porn, just forcing paedos to use different methods, which are harder to trace.

    I think this article misses the main points brought up over this debacle, and so has wikimedia.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "censorship is necessary"

    This is absolute crap. Censorship is only necessary if you believe the general public is so fucking stupid that their behaviour will somehow change as a result of the censored item being generally available. As this image and many like it have been available for years without censorship without any mass decrease in public morality (or whatever it is you're so scared of), that's obviously not the case. In 20 years time our children will patronise us over this as we patronise our ancestors and others who banned Lady Chatterley's Lover / covered the legs on chairs / make women cover every inch of flesh / kicked up a national fuss over a milliseconds display of a nipple / [any other totally pointless, embarrassing, puerile example of prudery].

  21. Liam Pennington

    I disagree

    What absolute rot!

    Wikipedia has a blacklist of editors because they are vandals, whose work is against the aim and cause of the project.

    I am a proud Wikipedian, who wants the best for the Wikipedia project. It is not hyprocisy to call this censorship. It IS censorship. Wikipedia is not censored (see WP:NOT).

    The IWF have not blocked the corresponding virgin killers page on, I notice, suggesting they are drawing attention (oddly enough) to their unelected, unaccountable body.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    amazon should block the image too? should they prevent someone from buying the album should they so wish? should we determine who has bought the album until now and go to their houses and place little stickers over the bit whoever it is finds so offensive?? or perhaps some of you could develop some common sense?

  23. Steve Sutton
    Thumb Down

    Defeating your own argument

    Reporter is a fucking idiot!

    As he/she/it states The Protection of Children Act 1978 bans indecent images of children. As we can all see with our own eyes (well, depending on our ISP), the blocked image can in no way be considered indecent (Reminder: nudity != porn - yes *even* children).

    And frankly, this is the real problem here. If said image was actually and example of kiddie porn, I'd have no problem with it being blocked. The problem is that the IWF, as demonstrated by this incident, is apparently now a fully signed up member of the media fueled overreaction is more important than using our common sense brigade.

  24. Neil Hoskins


    ...that the Reg has included a url of the child pornography in question, but hasn't offered a url for the IWF. If anybody else thinks that child pornography is a Bad Thing, and that Wikipedia need a kick up the arse, then they can report Wikipedia's publication of child pornography at

  25. me

    Confusing censorship and editorial control

    The article confuses (possibly deliberately) censorship and editorial control.

    Wikipedia doesn't demand that I don't publish something, but it may accept or reject my contribution to _its_ publication. Whether it does that through the wisdom of the crowd or the whim of the founder, it is still editorial control, not censorship. A third party decreeing that wikipedia _may not_ publish my content submission whether they would like to or not, is censorship.

    The BBC isn't currently accepting submissions from Russel Brand, but that is their editorial discretion. No government agency has decreed that they may not publish his content, and nor are they removing it from transmission. What the IWF are doing is (rather than tell the BBC not to use Brand) intercepting all UK comedy content sent to the BBC and relabelling it as "from some bloke in the UK", with the result the the BBC can't use any UK content because they don't know if it is from Brand or not.

    Regardless of whether or not the IWF was right to censor (in this case or generally) they have a duty to consider the balance of the right to freedom of expression and the proportionality of the actions they are taking. Effectively making wikipedia read-only (and some parts of it not readable at all) from the UK is a disproportionate response to a single complaint of offensive content.

    >> An over-reaction would be banning all pages on Wikipedia when it could ban just one of its pages.

    Or blocking editing of all pages on Wikipedia (where editing is a raison d'etre) by deliberately messing up the communication protocols ?

    The IWF may claim they did not know about this effect of their actions, however that does not absolve them. The problems that intecepting proxies (as appear to be used here) cause to websites are well known and well documented.

    If the IWF (and ISPs) did not know that their action would have this effect on wikipedia then they are not competent to censor using the tools that they have.

    >> Web hosts must not wait for an image to be declared unlawful by a court when they receive a complaint, albeit only a court can declare an image unlawful.

    Then what must they do ? Take down any image subject to complaint ? For how long - until it is detemined illegal by a court, or indefinitely ? Is there a DMCA-style counter-notification procedure ?

    Or are you really stating that web hosts "must" remove, permanently _any_ image that _anyone_ _thinks_ is illegal at the first complaint ? How many _legal_ images would it be acceptable to remove that way ?

    >> It's also worth noting that the law covers only photographs and 'pseudo photographs' – so the IWF will not censor, as one contributor to a BBC blog fears, Michelangelo's David

    It might be worth noting that the way the internet actually works, you cannot actually publish Michelangelo's David, only a (digitised) photograph of it. So, no, the IWF will not censor the statue but that is of little relevance.

  26. Ian Stephenson Silver badge


    Wikipedia – an encyclopedia, run by a charitable organization, which has been repeatedly gauged as equivalent in quality to conventional encyclopedias

    You've got to be fscking kidding right?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    An image file on the net is a URL link just like any other, so if the image is offensive then blacklist the address of the image not the page. How could you swallow the line that one URL is easier to blacklist than another, you must be a total moron to believe that line. If I can blacklist banner addresses which are on The Reg pages and still read the text then why cant the idiotic IWF do the same. Yet another idiotic ever so ill researched and politically comprimised anti-wikipedia article in the El' Reg, I've been reading The Reg since 2002 and to be fair things have gotten worse, you should of stuck to the IT Angle.

  28. Mark

    re: negative ratings?

    There may be so many negative ratings because the arguments they use are crap. Utterly terrible. Very poor. Bad. Whatever.

  29. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    @negative ratings? By jai

    "i know that no one likes the idea of censorship, but surely we can agree there is a time and a place when it is right and that is at least child pornography?

    or are you all sick-twisted-pro-kiddieporn-tards?"

    Sure, fight kiddie pr0n with the law. Great.

    The objections here are that:

    1. We don't believe this is child pr0n

    2. We don't like that this is done in secret by an unelected and unaccountable organisation with no democratic exposure or debate, no information or legal guidelines on what they block and no choice to opt out (except by switching ISP, which is hard when ISPs don't advertise their use of IWF).

    Also the article we're responding to is disingenuous tosh.

  30. Daniel Garcia

    a title

    we have forgotten history, and we are on the path to repeat it again.

    Puritanism will force the paedo to behave more cunning, and more dangerous, to seek to be on the position that the will have the power to do their desire and at the same time looks like beacon of purity (double faces).

    if the only way to "enjoy"( puag) CP legally is as a member of IWF, how can someone dont prove that they are pedophile element on it?

    pedophilia is a mental tendency. that you think and force other to think that a photograph of a prepubecent girl is "sexual" is more than enough to think that YOU are the peadophile.

    Wellcome to the new dark age mentality.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real abuse

    By the same reasoning, we must stop buying clothes in case an item of clothing was made by abusively child labour. And we must stop purchasing alcohol because it may result in drink-related crime. And all cigarettes must be banned because it is known that a significant number of under 18s WILL die from smoking-related diseases.

    Indecent does not imply sexually provocative. Anyone wearing tight-fitting jeans might fall into that category, as could any kid experimenting with make-up. Looking sexy is not abuse.

    Making innocent adults and kids feel guilty of an abuse that never happened is the abuse.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The "wikipedia censors too" argument is bogus

    >"Wikimedia does this because it does not like what they write. So its criticism of the IWF is hypocritical."

    Utter crap. Wikimedia are denying access to *THEIR* systems to certain *SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS*. Being *THEIR* systems, which they own, and have property rights over, they are entirely within their rights. What IWF and the ISPs are colluding to do is entirely different: they are denying *EVERYBODY* access to *SOMEONE ELSE'S* systems. The comparison is a blatant false analogy and you accusation of hypocrisy is utterly groundless and invalid.

    Note also that IPs banned from editing by Wikimedia can still *READ* wikipedia too, they just can't edit it. Your argument is the same mistake made by spammers: "Oh, not letting me use YOUR systems to publish MY speech is suppression of free speech". No more so than the local paper is censoring if it doesn't want to publish every single "letter to the editor" it ever receives. The right to free speech is not a guarantee of publication in whatever journal you desire!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    And the IWF is lying.

    >"The IWF is also criticised for blocking the whole page, not just the image. The IWF says that its system cannot ban individual JPEG files, though. It says that its system is designed to be simple, because that is what the ISPs want. So it bans pages on which images appear, not the images themselves. That is not an over-reaction, in my view. An over-reaction would be banning all pages on Wikipedia when it could ban just one of its pages."

    But the IWF is lying, or at any rate, I don't believe them for one second. It's not remotely plausible that a system that filters HTTP requests based on URLs can add URLs ending in ".html" to the list couldn't process identically a URL that is exactly the same but ends in ".jpg". If the IWF's claim is true (or if it is to be taken at face value, as meaning what it actually says), it would still be possible to access the image by its URL directly. Even if clean-feed is based on a simple prefix or substring match, they just need to specify the precise URL in the block list.

    According to reports on the wikipedia talk pages discussing the issue, both the HTML page *and* the JPG image are blocked. (I must apologise. I usually verify claims like this before restating them in a comment, but this time I'm not going to personally check the facts, for obvious reasons.) So their claim cannot be literally true in the words that they present it; they're fudging the description of what they are actually doing, and the only reason I can infer for that is because they have indeed overblocked and are embarrassed being caught at it.

  34. Paul
    Thumb Down

    Two Points

    This has been roundly criticized already, so I'll just focus on the two most disturbing assertions.

    "Web hosts must not wait for an image to be declared unlawful by a court when they receive a complaint, albeit only a court can declare an image unlawful."

    Following this line of thinking exponentially expands the variety of material that is, in effect, prohibited. Especially given the given the vague nature of these laws.

    "Amazon should get rid of it too, or, at the very least, block the image from UK visitors. (I don't know how US laws would interpret the Scorpions' image.)"

    This seems to indicate that web sites should be responsible for enforcing the laws of other countries. That's ridiculous, and combined with the other assertion means they would have to censor anything that MIGHT be illegal in any country. I'd wager that's just about everything.

    Okay I lied, one more point. Given that the legality of the image hinges on its (in)decency, based on "recognised standards of propriety", is not the fact that it has been sold commercially for 30 years somewhat relevant after all?

  35. Pierre Silver badge


    None of the arguments exposed in this piece is actually relevant to the case. The image is not of the kind that justify censorship. It should never have been censored in the first place. Period. The origin is totally irrelevant. The IWF is a dumb failure of a regulatory body. Its self-serving knee-jerk decisions should be scrutinized, and, in this case, lead to judiciary action. AGAINST the IWF and/or the ISP which followed its recommendation. Dumb redneck flashmob justice should not be encouraged, even on the Intartubes.

  36. blue

    Increasingly Waning Freedoms

    I thought we lived in a country where the system of law was "that which is not prohibited is allowed" as opposed to the Napoleonic system, where "that which is not allowed explicitly is illegal."

    When did we change over?

    Seems like another turn of the ratchet toward despotism, here in one half-way decent Blighty.

  37. Simon Orr
    Gates Halo

    Well, just to stir this up a bit more

    I'm going to complain to the IWF about every copy of the image I can find on BIG company sites - amazon, etc.. Then we'll see what happens. :D

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    comparing some random websites use of censorship with that of an unaccountable quango's censorship of a good proportion of an entire country is pretty weak.

    BTW, what might 'pseudo photographs' be? Given that cartoons (FFS) can now get you thrown in jail, I would have thought a decent oil painting would be completely beyond the pale, but IANAL.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Andrew Martin

    requirements mis-match

    "The IWF says that its system cannot ban individual JPEG files, though."

    Since the IWF's whole reason for existing is to block objectionable images, that seems a tad surprising...

  41. Anonymous Coward

    It isn't even a photograph ...

    Its done by airbrush.

    This album came out 33 years ago and regardless of what you think about The Scorpions or their choice of album cover art, it IS art.

    Are we to ban renaissance art because that too is full of nubile young women (and men)?

    We live in a world where even Chris Morris couldn't lampoon this shit.

  42. James Woods
    Thumb Up

    I agree with the IWF

    Everyone knows Wikipedia is made up of mostly left-leaning articles. They claim obamas birthplace is HI yet theres no proof of that, I guess the Wikipedia knows something we don't. I did see that verified the document, I guess that's pretty good considering Obama and a terrorist sat on the board of the foundation that runs FactCheck. This isn't about obama though, it's about how the WikiPedia clearly censors how articles are written and who can write to them.

    While the IWF might not be a member of law enforcement, neither is the wikipedia and if you want to go down the 'foundation' road give me a break. Hasn't enough come out about who runs Wikipedia by now showing how they use the site to threaten, harass, and initimiate people they don't like?

    This Thumbs up is for the IWF.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Yes, that is a form of censorship; but not all censorship is evil."

    Dear Mr. Robertson:

    Unfortunately, what you write is so utterly ludicrous that there's really no other way to put this: You are a fucking idiot. If you'd like to censor things which are obscene, you might want to start with your own witless prose.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps Struan would like to comment on the IWF's humiliating climbdown. Pity it took a backlash to get the IWF to see some sense on this.

    Questions remain to be answered, a full discussion on the IWF, its methodology, transparency and accountability needs to happen.

  45. Mark
    Thumb Down

    Terrible Article

    Okay, so the ISPs are to blame for the IP address problem rather than the IWF. But that doesn't change the point that something has gone wrong here.

    Comparing Wikipedia's blocking of people editing Wikipedia to this censorship is laughable. There's a difference between controlling who can access *your own site*, and trying to censor other sites!

    "Web hosts must not wait for an image to be declared unlawful by a court when they receive a complaint, albeit only a court can declare an image unlawful. If they wait, there is every chance that the declaration will come at their own trial."

    And that is Wikimedia's choice to make. And since they are in the US, it is up to the US authorities to notify them.

    "Yet that is no defence. Amazon should get rid of it too, or, at the very least, block the image from UK visitors."

    That's not the point. The question is, is the IWF going to block them too?

    "The IWF says that its system cannot ban individual JPEG files, though. It says that its system is designed to be simple, because that is what the ISPs want. So it bans pages on which images appear, not the images themselves. That is not an over-reaction, in my view."

    Censoring *text* is an over-reaction, in my view, the paying customer. If the IWF's system can't handle blocking images, then that's rather mad considering that the system was supposedly designed for blocking images! This system also means that the image is still available, if you know the URL of the image directly. So on the one hand it blocks legal text, yet it turns out it's no good at blocking child porn images anyway!

    "Yes, that is a form of censorship; but not all censorship is evil. Wikimedia should know that."

    A straw man argument - no one is claiming that censoring actual child porn images is wrong. Wikimedia do know that.

    As for the idea that ISPs can choose to block what they like - well sure, but (a) their customers damn well have a right to complain and raise awareness about such actions, and (b) you can damn well be sure that any site which is blocked will also complain, and consider legal action.

    There is also the wider issue of fears that ISPs have signed up to the blacklist, out of fears that the Government will force them to do so if they do not.

    Whoever is to blame - the ISPs, the IWF or the Government - both individuals and Wikimedia are right to kick up a fuss about it.

  46. Dan Harris

    i couldn't agree more with most of your comments

    Mr Robertson has been thoroughly lambasted for an ill considered and incomplete article based on his perverse view of a twisted world. I don't suppose we'll see a humiliating retraction like that of the IWF.

    Maybe El Reg might reconsider syndicating such utter crap in the future!

  47. Gaz Davidson
    Thumb Up

    Oh wow

    Can I please write an article for El Reg? I also support Ban This Sick Filth campaigns for the purpose of trolling

  48. Private Citizen

    Error 404 should it be Error 451

    as in Faranheit 451. if the item is censored the it is not a "404 file not found error" it is a "file has been censored error". That way the user learns that they are seeking censored material - that results in educating the user. They can then appeal the block if necessary.

    The biggest issue here is an unrepresentative organisation, is using it own moral judgements to generate a block list. I would expect they should at least get the authority to blacklist the item from a classification board that has legal authority.

    BTW. The Great firewall of Australia is expected to use the IWF list as well. so these moral gaurdians may have the power to censor more than the UK.

    icon - goggles. My approved censorship method is the whited out goggles. cheaper and more effective for those sensitive sods who argue they dont want to view stuff but they seem more concerned about stopping you from viewing it.

  49. CTG


    Of course, El Reg would never stoop to censorship, particularly of anything involving criticism of El Reg itself. Although curiously, whenever I try to post a comment critical of El Reg's stance on climate change, it never gets published. I get plenty of comments published about other things, just not on climate change. Odd that.

  50. Drew Cullen (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

    Re: Censorship

    Since when were the comment pages of any internet publication an unfettered forum for free speech?

    And since when did criticism of article A, appended as a comment to article B, become on-topic?

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