Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia: open web, cultural web, closed web

by Laurent François


The Internet Watch Foundation decided to block in UK a whole article about Scorpions, because it presented the image of its album “Virgin Killer”.

“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. Wikipedia have been informed of the outcome of this procedure and IWF Board’s subsequent decision.”

Here’s an interview of Sarah Robertson:


And as such, to an extent you’re making a judgement about the illegality of an image outside of a legal process. Is that not problematic?
No. Because the content is often not removed, therefore, because it’s not removed from around the world, the UK ISPs want to do their best to protect their customers, therefore we’re trusted by the industry, we have a memorandum of understanding with the Crown Prosecution Service, with the police and with the Government to do this work. We’re trusted to make the assessments on behalf of the industry to protect the public. You’re right, we do use the specific term ‘potentially illegal’ because we’re not judge and jury, but we are the trusted body to make the legal assessment. We have reciprocal training with the police, we’re independently inspected, we’re accountable in a number of ways.

I just wonder how this organism will manage this kind of case. Now that the web is more and more social, that the content is owned by several sources, it seems like only big portals like Amazon or Wikipedia could be targeted. A way to implement a kind of “ethos” in the very first part of the long-tail? A way to consider that Amazon and Wikipedia are the “institutions” of our social web?

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