British watchdog prevents Carry on Wikipedia

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, told British TV station Channel 4 News that the he was considering challenging the decision to block access to part of Wikipedia in Britain.

He criticised the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) watchdog for over-reacting when it took steps to stop UK users from viewing an image of a naked girl on an album cover, who was under 18 when the picture was taken in 1976. Wales commented that its actions have exposed more people to the image as it spreads throughout the web.

As it happened, in an unprecedented series of events, the IWF lifted its ban on the Wikipedia page and agreed has its ban had had the opposite to the desired effect - spreading the image further around the net instead of removing it.

As Wales said, "The Internet Watch Foundation's system has been in operation for a number of years. Is it out of date‾"

In the meantime, millions of users in the UK were unable to edit the encyclopaedia's pages - something of a blow as 25% of Wikipedia content originates in Britain, which, per head of population, is the largest contributor to the site.

Although not a statutory body, the government has said that it expects all ISPs to block sites on the IWF's black list. Authorities in the UK are hyper-sensitive to any hint of child abuse in the wake of a toddler's death in Haringey, London, after he was tortured for many months by his mother and her boyfriend, despite being on the local authorities at risk register.

Not to mention a child being abducted by her own mother in northern England so she could claim the reward money offered by a newspaper for her safe return. The mother in question had had regular dealings with social services for inadequate care of her children.

The death and kidnapping have caused a huge public outcry in the UK and demands for the authorities to be more effective at protecting children.

That the IWF can't tell the difference between a legal image and child pornography doesn't auger well for the authorities' success. It also adds to the general perception that they haven't a clue - over-reacting to trivial things while missing the hugely important.