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. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Actually the BBFC was appointed by the government and it's illegal to sell anything that hasn't been classified by them (though this is limited to video products only). Thus their decisions have the law behind them in a way.

  2. Mark

    @Drew Cullen

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

    But that is what the article uses to justify the censorship of Wikimedia: that they didn't allow an unfettered forum for free speech in wikimedia.

    Ergo showing that if this were what El Reg thought, they are guilty of censorship too. And therefore, since this is the reason why they say Wikimedia cannot complain about IWF's censorship, El Reg can't complain about censorship either.

    Which would kill off about 1/3 of the public sector and security topics on El Reg...

  3. dervheid

    Struan Robertson

    Sir, you are an ARSE.

    It is correct that the viewing of 'unacceptable' images should be made an offence.

    However, the problem arises when the definition of what is 'unacceptable' is made by some arbitrary, self-serving, self interested, answerable-to-no-one (or at least not to 'the people') body. Which, for reasons that seem, on the surface at least, has the power to advise it's subscribers to censor access to an image which, AFAIK, has never actually been declared to fall into the category of 'child pornography' in a court of law. (If it has, then I will happily retract my statement). Until that point, the image is merely open to subjective interpretation as to it's 'unacceptability', as what may appear so to one person, may not be the case to another. The approach of the IWF in this instance, I believe, does more harm than good to any attempts to stamp out the scourge of child abuse / pornography. To act as it did, apparently on the basis of, AFAIK, one complaint is the typically knee-jerk reaction of the 'PC' Brigade who think that "they know best".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To try to inject some sanity..

    Instead of all the frothing at the mouth that we have seen here so far.

    Ideas about what is illegal or not do change. In the UK a few years ago the age at which girls could pose naked in mens magazines (definitely for sexual arousal purposes) was raised from 16 to 18.

    Much of Europe allowed naked pictures of girls down to well below this (Rodox, IIRC is a good example), however this too was changed to modernise laws.

    So a similar argument to the "the picture has been around for 30 years so must be OK" is suspect on two main levels, firstly in that what was OK then is not necessarily OK now and secondly because there is a tandem argument that if I can show a naked picture of a child that was taken 30 years ago then why is it wrong to take one today and post it?

    I don't believe that the picture is kiddie porn under normal, rational definitions of said genre, however it is not my decision to make -- that is why we have a legal system.

    As for censorship I think many knees have jerked very far on this. Not just the initial blocking of the page either. The IWF are doing what they do. They receive complaints - investigate the complaint and then add various sites to their "naughty list".

    It is the ISPs that then use the list for site blocking. Although this is certainly censorship it is the ISP that is censoring, not the IWF. ISPs are perfectly within their rights to control traffic that passes through their systems. It would be nice if they were a little more honest about what they do and how they do it, but ultimately if you don't like your ISP then change ISP.

    Censorship is not necessarily evil. I fail to see where the vitriol about this comes from. Especially the poster who claimed there is a huge difference between the IWF censoring bits of the interweb and Wikipaedia censoring articles. Surely if censorship is bad then Wikipaedia are just as bad for censoring, and if there are acceptable degrees of censorship then the author's statement that not all censorship is evil is proven valid.

  5. CTG

    @Drew Cullen

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

    Er - when I can't get any comments on Article A actually published, unlike the legions of climate skeptics who get every bone-headed, drool-filled, knee-jerk, thought-free remark published immediately.

    If you actually let my comments get published, perhaps they wouldn't be so critical...

  6. foo_bar_baz
    Thumb Down


    Nobody has an inherent right to edit Wikipedia. The fact that they protect the resource they are the custodians of through moderation and blocklists does not trample on anyone's rights. It's their prerogative and their job, as it is the job of a newspaper editor to reject a poor article. It's not censorship.

    The IWF has effectively told every UK news agent to tear out a specific page from every Time magazine. Would they comply?

  7. michael

    re:Re: Censorship

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

    since the topic of article B was cencorship and his comments or article A where (in his opinion) cencored

  8. Steve Barnett
    Paris Hilton

    Blind Faith

    Maybe they just don't like the band. Prefering some early Clapton. The 1969 Blind Faith Album cover was pretty controversial and would certainly be banned today. Having heard it they would be better off banning the contents :0)

    Paris: for obvious reasons...

  9. michael


    "The IWF has effectively told every UK news agent to tear out a specific page from every Time magazine. Would they comply?"

    or to put it anpther way if a trade assoation had advided it members that selling this weeks "daily blah" might put them at risk of jail time cos of a possibley illagle aritcle in it then most of them would pull it of the stands

    silly anoligoes work both ways

  10. Rex Alfie Lee

    Why was the IWF right?

    I'm wondering how this works? If it was the Good Old US of A then the outcries of "Freedom of Speech" would be the overwhelming noise only to be dismissed as "we'll stop the terrorists before they attack us" sounded out by the masterful Bushy Dubbya.

    If it was Australia then the situation would be "ho hum, who cares & who uses it?" but it's not. This is the British Gov't supplanting its secular containment upon the public that trust their Gov't implicitly (roars of laughter echo across Commons & Beth's house as well). Gordy exclaims to a heralding chorus of belligerence, "They're wrong & we're going to stop them. Utter, utter ....." fading within the chorus of belligerence from none other than the opposing team or did it come from behind (some fart jokes please).

    Mind you this online encyclopedia of socially poisonous unacceptability & just not British behaviour is quite the useful menagerie of quite funny fart noises & other hilarious stuff straight out of the Goodies or was it Monty Python. Oh damn, there's that funny walk & pay-for-arguments that aren't arguments, oh chortle, chortle, chortle...

    I can hear Libby guffawing into a sherry now, "Dear God, please blame Fergie & I don't mean the singer, I mean that fat bitch!".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    who pays these A-holes?

    Does anyone pay this '' and the iwp in direct proportion for degree of inanity?

  12. Mark
    Paris Hilton


    But since ANYTHING is *possibly* illegal, that would mean that nothing gets printed.

    Fine for me, buy the newspaper owners won't get very far with no content.

  13. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re:To try to inject some sanity..

    Problem is that they are illegal. Not "potentially illegal". And if the tabloids printed a girl of 16 nude or topless they would get into trouble.

    They don't get into rouble for a young looking woman pictured because it "could be" illegal.

    Laws change, but then that means you prosecute for illegal acts that weren't illegal. But you don't ban stuff because it MAY be illegal. Or could BECOME illegal. After all, we could be taken over as an islamic state and all of the Sun pictures would be rude. As would almost all the clothes available in the shops. And all the breweries. But we don't ban them.

    Oh, and have a look at how "grandfather clause" works.


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