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Rory Cellan-Jones

Wikipedia is censored

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 8 Dec 08, 09:29 GMT

Is the internet censored in the UK? Well, no, most of us would say - you can get to any site you want, as long as it isn't breaking the law - and even then, the authorities are unlikely to intervene.

scorpionsBut now customers of several big internet service providers are finding that they cannot access one page of a website. And it's not just any website - it's Wikipedia. The page that they cannot view is about a relatively obscure 70s heavy metal band, Scorpions, and it has been blocked because it includes an image of a controversial album cover. That cover shows a naked child, and even back in the 70s it proved too distasteful for many, and was withdrawn in a number of countries.

Now the Internet Watch Foundation - which has been Britain's leading online child abuse watchdog for the past 12 years - has put that Wikipedia page on its banned list. The result is that those internet service providers which are members of IWF have blocked their users from accessing that page.

A host of Wikipedians is on the warpath, suggesting that this is censorship by a self-appointed body which has no right to decide what we can look at on the web. I caught up with one of them, David Gerard. He acts as a spokesman for Wikipedia volunteers in the UK - though he is not employed by the Wikimedia Foundation, the online encyclopaedia's governing body (which has issued a press release). I asked him why he was so angry when most people would probably support any body which is trying to stamp out child abuse images on the web.

First of all, he stressed that he was not saying that he found the image in question acceptable. "I personally find it distasteful," he said. "But is it illegal?"

He went on to explain that there were two reasons that Wikipedians felt angry: firstly, that IWF could decide on its own that something was illegal; secondly, that its actions had blocked the text on the page as well as the image itself.

Mr Gerard claimed that there was no evidence that any court had ruled that the image was illegal - indeed it was in books that were stored in libraries. "Are the police going to go into those libraries and rip out the offending page?" he asked.

He went on to explain that it would have been relatively simple for the IWF to block the image but to leave the accompanying text alone. But he said that nobody had contacted anyone from Wikipedia - the watchdog had just gone ahead and laid down the law.

This issue is the subject of feverish debate on Wikipedia mailing lists and forums, and there is already a Facebook group to call for a boycott of ISPs which censor Wikipedia. Some are suggesting that this makes the UK little better than China in terms of internet censorship, though other Wikipedia users are not quite so sure that this is the right issue for an anti-censorship campaign.

So what does the Internet Watch Foundation have to say? A spokeswoman explained that the image had been referred to them by a member of the public. After examination - and consultation with the police - it was assessed as "a potentially illegal image" and put on the banned list that is given to internet service providers, who then block the URL. She went on to explain that this is a routine procedure which is used for all sorts of images that are reported to the IWF - it just so happened that this involved one of the internet's most famous sites.

I've also spoken to one of the ISPs which is blocking the Wikipedia page. A spokesman made it clear that the process was automatic - the ISP just takes the list and implements its own blocking procedures. He said that his company would certainly not be criticising the watchdog: "The Internet Watch Foundation has a tough job and an important role in protecting our children. We just have to support them - we can't pick and choose."

So: a fascinating case which sheds light on the debate about freedom of speech on the internet. On the one side, a body which has been fighting to free the web of child abuse images, waging a war which has the support of the vast majority of web users. On the other, the digital libertarians who believe that once we let a group of unelected regulators decide what is fit for us to see on the web, we are on the road to Orwellian thought control. Who is in the right? You decide.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    I've no objection to illegal images being blocked, and I can't see how any right-minded person would.

    However the main mistakes the IWF have made here are (1) appointing themselves as judge and jury by deciding, arbitrarily, that this image is "potentially illegal"; (2) not engaging Wikipedia in dialogue before blocking the image, and (3) blocking the entire page rather than just the "offending" image.

    Of course, the resultant publicity has only served to raise awareness of the picture which I'm willing to bet had very little interest until this misguided action by IWF.

    I'm also concerned that my ISP (Virgin) chooses to offer me a "page cannot be displayed" message, rather than being honest and informing me of their co-operation with IWF.

    IWF have made a mistake and should unblock the image immediately, then turn their attention to ridding the internet of genuinely illegal content.

  • Comment number 2.

    This action makes us in Britain seem like Orwellian people. How can we criticise the Chinese when our ISPs are behaving like this?

    What next thought control? Who watches the watchers? I may find the image distasteful (I've not seen it), but if the police haven't ruled it illegal, then the IWF have no right to.

  • Comment number 3.

    The image wouldn't be illegal or it wouldn't have been released as an album cover - it was withdrawn because the band decided it was a mistake.

    I suspect the IWF simply has workers who visit a large number of sites and click "ok, ok, ok, not ok, ok ok ok etc." without really thinking that hard about the legal context of an image.

    Personally I'm against the blocking of these images anyway because if they're blocked you can't see them, but they're still there. The sites should be shut down, not blocked to the majority.

  • Comment number 4.

    Presumably all images of Nirvana's album "Nevermind" will also be getting censored? It does after all present the image of a naked child getting paid.

  • Comment number 5.

    Freedom without limits only leads to anarchy.

    Maybe the process needs to be changed somewhat to take account of the fact that anyone can make a mistake, however the goal of the IWF is correct.

    Comparing the ethical and correct (!) censorship of images the police have advised as illegal, to the Chinese system whereby all non-conformist thought is censored, is extremely misleading.

    I agree the process that the IWF utilises needs to be adjusted, but so does the attitude of most of the doomsayers.

  • Comment number 6.

    How long before the IWF decide they don't like this blog criticising them and block this page from the internet?

  • Comment number 7.

    The problem isn't simply that the IWF are judge and jury here: it's that the only consultation it conducts over the potential illegality of an image is with the police, specifically the Met's child porn unit. It's perfectly understandable that any image of a naked child will, in their eyes, be potentially illegal.

    However, a view that something is potentially illegal from the police is not the same thing as there being any likelihood of a prosecution being successful. The police, necessarily and generally rightly, err on the side of caution - but let's not mistake that natural caution as being a definitive judgement that an image is illegal.

    In effect, the police are acting as both judge and jury in this case - something which, in any other sphere of law, would be rejected by the majority of people in this country.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have an original copy of the Scorpions LP in question somewhere in my old vinyl collection. It features the 'offending' cover - and I recall that no particular fuss was made about it back in 1976 when the album was released. It was just regarded as a 'Berlin' thing, with an element of mild shock attached, and little more.

    It was a pretty good album, actually.

    However, with all the fuss over the Wikipedia article, does this mean that the collector's value of said LP is now on the rise? I must dig it out and post it on eBay (with the cover image suitably 'Photoshopped' for decency's sake, naturally) and see how much it could earn me.

  • Comment number 9.

    @ morias (5): I believe in this country it is the courts that decide what is and is not illegal, not the police.

  • Comment number 10.

    As a Demon subscriber I see the image as a thumbnail on the main wiki page for the Virgin Killer album. I only get the notification that the IWF object and block the image on the image page itself, ie by clicking the image.

    So I imagine this means that the IWF are no longer blocking the text on the page or that demon is being more selective in its blocking.

    It also means, that for demon subscribers at least, the image as a thumbnail isn't blocked.

    And for those of a nervous disposition that think their door will be knocked down and computer taken away for having looked at the image demon at least don't log attempts to view blocked images.

  • Comment number 11.

    Regardless of the actual image itself, there's nothing new either in the way this has been handled (heavy handedly) in effectively removing access to the surrounding text about the album to the (stated) majority of the UK populace and even, in effect, removing access to /discuss/ this on the relevant wikipedia talk page. Thankfully I'm not with one of those majority ISPs so I can at least still post/discuss there!
    This is far from the only album cover likely to be included "within scope", so it'll be interesting to see where this goes next...

  • Comment number 12.

    Firstly:
    "Potentially illegal" I would say is the key-phrase here. The image has been around for some considerable time and not been deemed illegal by the law-makers of the UK.

    If the IWF want to change this, maybe they should pursue the matter through the UK courts. That way they are either vindicated or defeated. If they are defeated, then they must accept defeat.

    I suspect that the IWF hasn't done it's homework either: Have they bothered to find out the age of the model when the photograph was taken?


    Secondly:
    Also I find it highly offensive that the ISPs involved automatically take what the IWF say as gospell. I suspect that they haven't done their homework either.

  • Comment number 13.

    I very much doubt the legality or morality of the censorship. I do not necessarily condone the image in question, but our very freedom is a stake here - first, distasteful images are blocked. Next, alternative political views may be blocked. Where does it end?

    But on the internet, any of us can see whatever we want if we browse through a proxy server. A simple web search will bring up many on-line proxy servers. So ultimately the IWF is completely powerless to stop people visiting whatever web page they wish.

  • Comment number 14.

    It might be a fascinating case indeed, but it's not going to shed any light on anything if you treat it as a black and white two sided issue. It is not the "tireless child protectors vs the paranoid amoral libertarians" as your final paragraph seems to imply.

    Blocking an entire article on a band because one of their album covers is distasteful? That's common sense? That's going to protect children, is it?

    It seems these days that if you want to do something ill-thought out and dumb all you have to do is say "it's for the children" and anyone who disagrees with your idiotic plan will be branded a pervert.

  • Comment number 15.

    I am in favour of removing this image, it is distateful and I don't think it's necessary to show it.

    However if I am understanding this rightly (and I may not be) it seems that the IWF is a self appointed, self-regulating group. Unelected and outside of government. Who are they to make such decisions on behalf of the entire population?

    The slippery slope is the problem here:

    Today - unacceptable album covers. Tomorrow - Fatty foods and anything non-christian. Who knows?

  • Comment number 16.

    This is an extremely stupid and ill thought out action by the IWF.

    They blocked the page containing the encyclopaedia article, but the same page can be viewed using an alternative url formation where article title is passed to the website's main php script.

    The page can also still be viewed by clicking on the Google's (and presumably other search engine's) cache of the page.

    The same image can also be seen by going to the Amazon website and plenty of other retails and sites about albums and album covers.

    Simply typing the album title into Google's image search will bring up hundreds of copies of the image, many at a much higher resolution than the Wikipedia page.

    The album with the offending cover art has has been on sale in the UK for the last 32 years and the cover has not been declared illegal in any Western European, or North American jurisdiction during that time.

    The banning of the Wikipedia article and the necessary filtering that ISPs now have to impose on access to the Wikipedia has caused nothing but disruption to all concerned. The publicity generated from the action has has the effect of causing a spike in visits to the offending page by those still able to access it normally and by those who have found ways to access it via proxies or other methods.

    The offensiveness of the image itself is a matter of debate. I think declaring this cover offensive would raise issues about the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind, Blind Faith's Blind Faith and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy.

    Wikipedia prides itself on not censoring legal content. They still host the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed in the face of demands for censorship from various parties. Its pretty clear from their press release that they find the blocking of this page baffling and will not back-down to censorship issues.

    I hope that the IWF see their error quickly enough to realise that their actions have backfired.

  • Comment number 17.

    This does smack of burning books and pulling the wool over peoples eyes. Its all well and good saying "thing of the children" but this is a catch-all argument, you could say pretty much anything because of this. The fact that this system exists at all terrifys me, as its not accountable and most people dont even know it exists it could be easily used to silence a political party or rights movement.
    Add to this the fact that the Wikipedia article is not porn and exists only to inform about the album and its controvicy. Surley this would become farcical if it said "there was this thing on the cover but were not allowed to discuss it but people said it was really bad"
    Oh and you can still buy the album (that versions no longer in print as far as i know but its curculated by collectors) legally in the UK

    Nanny Orwell anyone?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Tip of the iceberg which leads down the innevitable road to the Thought Police. No unelected body has the right to tell me what is and is not illegal, full stop.

  • Comment number 20.

    Censorship is a crime against humanity. It is no better than what the catholic church did to Galileo and Coppernicus. It matters not whether the information/knowledge being censored is illegal or legal, what matters is that information/knowledge is being withheld from the human race by a select few that feel they should be the moral guardians for the entire population.

    We need to stamp out this horrific crime against humanity.

  • Comment number 21.

    OK, let's censor the rest of the net then:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B0000073NK/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0?ie=UTF8&index=0

    anyone want to ring Amazon? Or google?

    What a feeble piece of crap this decision is. If this proves one thing, it's that censoring any area of the net is pointless as the content will be found elsewhere.

    How about the wayback engine?

    http://web.archive.org/web/20071101043048/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer

    Pathetic. Try to spend time making sure people don't turn into paedophiles, stop condescending to all of us by censoring material in this manner.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm in China right now. I can view the page concerned. I'm a BT Internet subscriber.


  • Comment number 23.

    Rory, a while ago you asked who polices the internet and I was so tempted to write back a witty comment along the lines of 'Er, the police police the internet' and I think that is something that holds true here.

    Firstly, let me make it clear that protecting children is all good and well, but this is NOT the right way to go about it.

    As previous commenter have already mentioned, the image in question depicting a naked pre-pubescent girl, is 'potential illegal'. I, as a human, am 'potentially' a murderer. Should some self appointed organization lock me up or prevent me from being around loving things for the potential of me murdering someone? I think not!

    Laws are in place to prevent wrongdoing, I don't need the IWF 'protecting me'. It is a slippery slope. What's next? Physics resources banned for fear of someone making a dirty bomb.

    Policing the internet is the responsibility of the police, not some self-appointed body. And even then, this country does not need branches of the Information Police opening up shop all over the place.

    In other news, my good for nothing ISP appears to not be in bed with the IWF. So I'm free from transparent content filtering for the moment...


  • Comment number 24.

    What about Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy"? Both of those albums have naked children on the cover.

  • Comment number 25.

    The image in question is of a naked teenage girl in a sort of slightly reclined kneeling pose with the genital area obscured by a cracked glass effect. It will be all over the internet now and is on the Scorpions own website so the IWF have shot themselves in the foot by promoting viewing of it.

    At worst this image would be classified as Level 1 under UK sentencing guidelines "Images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity" - penalty for possession of small quantities for personal use Fine or conditional discharge.

    It is the Law Courts that decide what is within or without the law in the UK, and the CPS that decide what to prosecute. The IWF is a quango with no legal powers and the Police are not empowered to decide what is legal and what is not - they can only decide to take something to the CPS.

    This week it is a 30 year old picture of a naked girl, next week it might be the BNP website or who knows what else that they or a "member of the public" deem offensive and censor.

  • Comment number 26.

    Already the articles on Wikipedia for both band and album have been updated to include this controversy.

    I feel they could put a warning on the page (as they do with film and game spoilers) that some viewers may find the picture offensive.

    At least the page is back online now, albeit without the picture.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is pity that the Wiki Admin reply has been downgraded to a hyperlink, which is not equitable treatment of the subject by the BBC.
    The evidence that this is Big Brother acting ham-fistedly is that Wikipedia can be edited by the users, which includes the IWF, and has a disputes procedure intended to resolve such controversies. The IWF's action disregards their procedures, which is in itself offensive, and although I tend to agree that provocative and irresponsible material should not be promoted, especially if it encourages those with regretable affinities, none the less the IWF seems to have gone about this the wrong way - they should have deleted the image in question themselves, posted the police advice on the discussion page behind as justification, and notified the Wiki admin of their stance. Any reversion could then be blocked and the page put on watch to ensure editors of a controversial nature are discouraged.
    Instead, the Wiki Admin report suggests the entire Wiki has been frozen, which is highly irresponsible behaviour on the part of the IWF as it blocks the work of serious academics who have no interest whatsoever in punk and paedophilia. Their action is disproportionate and besmirches their reputation.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think the IWF is acting illegally and have therefore blocked their site from our system.
    I know it wont get us anywhere but you've got to think of the lawyers.

  • Comment number 29.

    Michelangelo depicts a naked David, in his famous sculpture, at the time he defeated Goliath. There is no certainty to his age at this time, with estimates ranging between 14 and 18. How long before a body like the IWF start deeming art like this as 'potentially illegal'?

  • Comment number 30.

    The image in question is all over the internet, as it almost invariably tops every list of "Worst album covers ever". It is bad taste on a legendary scale, but illegal child porn? I don't believe so. Besides if the Scorpions are guilty, then so are messers Clapton, Winwood et al for the similarly distasteful cover for the Blind Faith album, but of course, they are respected pillars of the British rock aristocracy and not a Teutonic heavy metal band...

  • Comment number 31.

    I can view the page [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]from CHINA !!! This is what the UK has become - more censorious than China.

    Maybe the picture wouldn't be so offensive if the album wasn't entitled "Virgin Killer".

  • Comment number 32.

    The IWF action breaches Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

    Article 10 – Freedom of expression1
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

    2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

    It would serve the IWF right for Wiki to ask for them to be closed, on the basis of their illegal action. They are not a judicial body, and so have acted without authority in breach of a constitutional law. End of story.

  • Comment number 33.

    Very good point about the Nevermind cover, will any pictures of it also be banned? What about paintings of cherubs?

    PC brigade gone mad again

  • Comment number 34.

    but the point is, the wikipedia page for the scorpions has a link to an external site, which contains a link to the 'banned' image. which no doubt thousands of people will now be accessing to see what all the fuss is about.

    Hmmm...

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree that this particular image should be censored. In an age when hard-core porn can be accessed so very easily, having an image like that in the public domain sends out confusing signals...

    I wonder how the (alleged) 11 year old girl concerned would feel now about the cover?

    While we are at it, they should remove the Blind Faith album cover (still on Wiki) and there's the gatefold centre of the Sex Pistols' Great Rock N Roll Swindle album - all showing similar images.

    Likewise, there's a number of works by the painter Balthus could be considered just as 'worrying'.

    But quite where this revisionist air-brushing-of-history ends, I don't know. If it helps stem the ever-growing 'normalization' of strong pornography, then it's a good thing. I think.

  • Comment number 37.

    Although the www is immediate and gives access to a wealth of knowledge hitherto unavailable to the person in the street, it should not be treated differently from any other medium of information.
    Thus if we have banned an image (or page) on the internet, but can be found in other locations (libraies, shops etc) then these should be banned also.
    The vast majority of people want the world to be a safe place for children and adults but to arbitrarily block pages is not necessarily the way to achieve this.
    If the IWF ban information then they should be accountable. All Child Protection agencies are accountable so why not the IWF? Which part of government do they belong and who has the final say?

  • Comment number 38.

    The Wikipedia entry on the Internet Watch Foundation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Watch_Foundation

    "A staff of 7 people are responsible for this work..."

    "The IWF makes available to supporting ISPs a blocklist of URLs which must be blocked, as part of the contract to obtain the list, the blocklist must not be reviewed by any human being, posing questions regarding accuracy and transparency."

    So a group of 7 people make a decision between themselves - a decision that cannot be questioned or reviewed - or even the most basic of checks made.

  • Comment number 39.

    This kind of censorship is the thin end of the wedge, what will it be next?
    I wonder if the Blind Faith album cover is also on the IWF's list...

  • Comment number 40.

    mileshayler: "I feel they could put a warning on the page (as they do with film and game spoilers) that some viewers may find the picture offensive."

    They already do - because they have that disclaimer linked from every page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Content_disclaimer .

    (Whilst at first it may seem better to only include this for pages that might be "offensive", the problem is that this opens a can of worms in trying to decide whether someone somewhere might find something offensive - this case might be obvious, but other cases are not. Also due to the way Wikipedia is edited by anyone and continually updated, someone could insert something "offensive" at any time, so the disclaimer needs to be there for all articles.)

    "At least the page is back online now, albeit without the picture." - which ISP is that? It's still blocked for me on Virgin Media.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Is that the relatively obscure band that has sold over 75 million albums worldwide and had a double platinum album in the USA...?

  • Comment number 43.

    I am quite simply amazed. Well, that's not strictly true... if I am honest, I am not entirely surprised, just massively disappointed.

    We preach about how much better we are than countries such as China, but I cannot fail to notice that they are:
    - storming away economically whilst we collapse
    - able to organise events to be proud of, such as the Olympics
    - able to step up to be no1 in the world in sports at will
    - not the ones declaring wars on any country that happens to have the wrong colour of skin
    - supporting torture of prisoners (ahem, sorry 'enemy combatants')
    - not overun with scandals about political funding, leaks, etc

    And whilst they may censor - well, how many times has the BBC been gagged. Anyone remember as incident with a 'suicide' in the woods?

    It's about time we stop considering ourselves above everyone else and look at the facts. We are just as oppressive or corrupt as anywhere else. The difference is that we try and tell ourselves we are not - which makes us possibly the worst of the lot.

  • Comment number 44.

    Re: Richard Starkey

    How do you mean normilisation of pornography? Genuine question not intended to cause arguement btw. And also what do you view as strong?

    Has there not been art for hundreds of years depicting the naked body? Statues, paintings etc?

  • Comment number 45.

    I can see the image, and I'm in a school.

    I have no problem with the idea of blocking images of child pornography, but as an encyclopedia, the album art is what it is. Its from a 32 year old album. If it wasn't that big an issue in 1976 why is it now? Why are we creating more revisionist history?

    We shouldn't censor history, and the IWF are suddenly this Orwellian organisation that tell us what is an isn't acceptable?

  • Comment number 46.

    My concern here goes beyond the actions of the Internet Watch Foundation. I am very concerned that there are different rules that appear to be applied to the internet verses print media.

    Consider this in the context of the extreme pornography laws that come into force this year. Under these laws the possetion of an electronic copy on a computer of the Scorpions album cover would be sufficient to place the owner of that computer on the sex offenders register as a paedophile, whereas there is no legal issue with owning the same image on an album cover.

    Another huge concern is that the user would not even had to intentionally download the image; most web browsers prefetch images and text from sites visited; this means that when the act comes into law at the end of this month, anyone who visited Wikipedia could be conviceted of having ilegal images on their computer.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    I suspect my previous comment was far too full-on. (#21) I rather hastily posted links which was an oversight.

    There are loads of other sites which still carry this image, including the internet wayback engine and (good lord) amazon.

    The point is, it's point_less_ to try to censor a part of the internet - it's not a TV station, there are too many ways to quickly access the same information through publicly available search engines. The real risk is that if the IWF realise this, they'll start censoring the search engines, at which point you start having trouble getting useful information out of the internet (which is hard enough anyway)

  • Comment number 49.

    Reposting because my earlier comment was removed - I can only guess that it was because I linked to a stats page, which implicitly gave away the name away. Come on now - I can understand being wary about not linking to the article, but are the chilling effects so bad that we can't even mention the name? That in itself is a worry. But then hang on, how come other commenters have been allowed to do so? Reposting with URLs removed:

    ---

    I am in full agreement with the points made by David Gerard, and the point about how ISPs should be honest about the block rather than faking error messages. The BBC's Bill Thompson raised these issues years ago.

    Another problem is that all accesses to Wikipedia (i.e., for any page) are being redirected by ISPs through a single IP address. This means that Wikipedia cannot distinguish between different users when it comes to detecting abusive edits, so they have had to block all edits from those who are not logged in (existing registered users can still edit).

    From January, a new law will come into force criminalising possession of "extreme" pornography (also reported by the BBC here) - including acts between consenting adults (even staged/fictional acts, and screenshots from legal films). Government guidance has suggested that the IWF will also be handling this new law. This new law is far vaguer and broader than child porn law, so how many sites will be blocked because there is something the IWF think may "potentially" be "extreme"? Images that may potentially fall under the law have been found on mainstream non-porn sites, and whilst a prosecution for such sites may be unlikely, this shows that the IWF are not afraid to censor major websites, even if the context is clearly not abusive or pornographic.

    Shouldn't it be up to the courts to decide what is legal or not? The IWF has no accountability, and offers no way to appeal incorrectly blocked material.

    I'm glad that one mainstream UK media source has the balls to not only tell us the article, but link to the article in question. Consider, if this was really child porn, would any mainstream media source touch it with a bargepole? Would hundreds of thousands of people be rushing to see the image? Does anyone who claims this image is "child porn" really think anyone who's looked at it now deserves time in prison for possession?

    The IWF claim that they go after "Child sexual abuse content". Is this an image of child sexual abuse? If a child was really abused, then why not go after the record company or band for producing this image? That they are in another country does not matter, due to international consensus on these laws. It's not like this is some unknown image - the source is clearly known. But if no crime was committed in the production, then it should not be censored.

    @morias: "Comparing the ethical and correct (!) censorship of images the police have advised as illegal, to the Chinese system whereby all non-conformist thought is censored, is extremely misleading."

    Who says it's correct? And isn't it the job of the courts to decide what's illegal, not the police? I'm sure that the police in China say that those things are illegal, too...

    @theSliver: It appears that Demon are being more sensible, in that they don't block the main article page, and inform users why the image page is blocked. The other ISPs (I can confirm Virgin Media, at least) are not.

    @-RobW-: I am in full agreement - the BBC is setting up a false dichotomy. It's possible to have freedom of speech, without giving up the fight against images of child abuse. Is this an image of child abuse?

  • Comment number 50.

    Regardless of whether the image should be censored, the mechanism used was seriously flawed. The resulting collateral damage has drawn a great deal of attention to a previously obscure image.

    I hope that the ISPs concerned are making urgent efforts to ensure that their proxies do not continue to hide the original IP addresses of users.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hey IWF - you might want to get Google Images on that list.

  • Comment number 52.

    This is a really interesting debate. It comes down to taking the law into your own hands I guess. I have seen the image and agree that it is at the very least distasteful, but who makes the law in this country and who enforces it. The image in question has never been deemed "illegal" and the IWF are effectively acting without authority, and without any mandate to decide what should or should not be deemed unacceptable. I don't have an answer but worry that as a precedent it allows organisations to take the initiative and decide censorship on our behalf.

  • Comment number 53.

    @38 Ginger_Lizard

    Ah, but at this moment in time it reads:

    "The IWF compiles and maintains a blacklist, mainly of child pornography URLs, from which 90% of commercial Internet customers in the UK are filtered. A staff of 7 people are responsible for this work, and the director of the service has claimed that the analysts are capable of adding an average of 65-80 new URLs to the list each week, and act on reports received from the public rather than pursuing investigative research."

    "Act on reports....rather than pursuing invesitgative research."???????

    So, I'll take your word that it's "potentially illegal", and shan't check out its actual validity.

    My god! if the police and courts acted in this manner, most of the population of the UK would be locked up!

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh and I expect blocks on "Nevermind" by Nirvana "Blind Faith" by Blind Faith and "House of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin to be forthcoming, as well as the arrests of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, Dave Grohl, Chris Novoselic, and the millions of people who brought these albums.

    Oh and while we are at it, why don't we block any references to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita... and while we are there lets ban Death In Venice and Notes on A Scandal... and arrest Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. We may as well go as hysterical as the IWF over this one.

  • Comment number 55.

    The question is not about child pornography but about indecent images of children. By my personal standards I would agree that the image is an indecent one of a child, but who should judge which art is indecent and should be censored?

    I think the IWF shouldn't be allowed to pass judgment on decency and should stick to the real issue of blocking child pornography. There are lots of reasons why an image or web page might be illegal: copyright violation, libel, the obscene publications act and so on. Do we also want the IWF blocking other *potential* violations of the law on our behalf?

    I looked at their FAQ and apparently they maintain lists of other objectionable sites including racial hatred texts and sexual cartoon images. I'm shocked and disgusted to find that our Internet access is regulated on moral grounds in a way not dissimilar to the Chinese.

    How can we judge their great firewall if they too have an unelected body that blocks sites found morally objectionable and in violation of their laws? Shocking.

  • Comment number 56.

    The question should be why did this band choose this image in 1976, not why are people posting online now, 32 years later!!!

    They're censoring history!

  • Comment number 57.

    "Another huge concern is that the user would not even had to intentionally download the image; most web browsers prefetch images and text from sites visited; this means that when the act comes into law at the end of this month, anyone who visited Wikipedia could be conviceted of having ilegal images on their computer."

    An absolutely massive point. There's a fandamental disconnect between lawmakers and the rapid pace of technology here. While I appreciate there would be grounds for appeal on this point at a trial, the point would be that a case like that should never go to trial in the first place: you think the CPS would view a defence of image cacheing and plausible? I don't.

    And this applies in other areas too: malware - what about trojans acting as mail gateways? What if your PC is acting as a spam gateway for a bot net? You could be mailing thousands of pornographic images out per day? Combine that with a national database of email transactions and suddenly the finger starts to point at you.

    This IWF business makes me very worried.

  • Comment number 58.

    This article has missed out a major effect of the censorship - the effect on editing.

    A major feature of the Wiki is that it is built by anonymous editors from around the world, thus providing a true indication of what people think about a topic. This obviously leaves Wiki articles open to vandalism, so the Wiki team operate a vandal ban based on the IP addresses of submitters, which stops the few spoilers ruining the whole encyclopedia.

    The IWF censorship works by directing all calls to the wiki through a single censoring point - this means that all editors will have the same IP address. So the Wiki vandal ban now applies to ALL the UK. Try to edit a wiki page, and you will be rejected.

    I was contributing to a discussion on T H Lawrence on Friday night, when I suddenly lost the page I was editing. Nice one, IWF!



    This record cover is NOT child porn. It may be indecent and tasteless, depending on your taste, but it is obviously nothing to do with child abuse. The unelected and unanswerable IWF have made a huge mistake here.

    If we can make enough of a protest about this maybe we can slow down the inevitable collapse of our culture into an opressive state-directed tyranny....

  • Comment number 59.

    @47 Tony Byers:

    Ok, so she looks, 12-14 - what is her actual age? Many pornography sites have images of women who look under 18 and are dressed in school uniform (oh and not censored by IWF), but are indeed 18+

    If the image does in fact break the law, then yes censor it. No-one has challenged this in a bona-fide law-court.

    I wonder what the woman (as she is now) thinks of all this? Maybe we should send Rory to do an interview........

  • Comment number 60.

    I don`t think the freedom of speech means there should never be limits placed on what can be accessed, and those enforced if necessary. Those contesting this by asking `has it been found illegal?` are being placed in the position of defending child pornography and pedophilia.
    From memory of Scorpion album covers (they tended towards the sensational), the picture was of a naked child in a pose we associate with adult glamour magazines. Attitudes have changed a lot since the 1970s, back then there was still disbelief that child abuse could happen or that pedophiles existed. Today we know differently.
    The argument `has it been found illegal?` doesn`t stand. Child sexual abuse, pedophilia, downloading child pornography etc clearly are illegal and this has the support of the vast majority. When someone is convicted of downloading the court doesn`t make its decision on the basis of whether individual images have been previously been found `illegal` or not.
    Nor can a thin end of the wedge argument be used, claiming for example that this would lead to the banning of, say, Botticelli`s cherubs from the web, as there is a clear difference in depiction and intent that would be understood by both public and jury.

    The IWF has been set up as a watchdog for reasons the vast majority of the public agree with; its remit is to make decisions; I`m quite happy to let it make those decisions; in this instance I think it was right.
    I suspect the IWF and ISPs have a set course of action they take to block pages and simply applied this to the Wiki page.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'll also note that the image is freely available to view at the American and Japanese Amazon.

  • Comment number 62.

    Who decides which books we should burn ?

    A very dangerous precedent.

  • Comment number 63.

    @peej

    While we're at it, lets not forget The Blue Lagoon. Not only does it show naked pre-teen youngsters in some scenes, but it depicts pre-age-of-consent sex between teenagers, quite graphically.

    Btw, for those saying 'this image needs to be banned', remember that intent is in the eye of the beholder, if you see the image of a naked person and see pornography, it's probably because the image is sexually arousing you.

    Those of us that are NOT paedophiles are perfectly capable of looking at a photograph of a baby or pre-pubescant and NOT be sexual aroused, and not need the image to be 'banned' or labelled 'pornography' so that our delicate mental states can be maintained.

  • Comment number 64.

    To me, it seems absurd that the IWF feels the fight against child pornography starts with Wikipedia - an encyclopaedia whose job is not to decide what is and is not appropriate for the public to see, but provide objective information - instead of the multiple websites out there which are so easily accessible, or even the band itself for making the image in the first place. It's an organisation which has been in action for 12 years, and it still only stops less than 1% of cases? That stat alone speaks volumes about how hopelessly ineffective the organisation is at its job, and how much it needs reform.

    This is aimed at media sensationalism to give itself some sort of publicity, while gaining a cheap shot at the libertarians.

    As others have said, where does this stop? There are more obvious album covers out there - Nirvana's "Nevermind" is far more obscene than this artwork, yet it's one of the most well-known album covers of all time! Don't forget the infanticidal antics by the beloved Beatles on "Yesterday and Today"!

  • Comment number 65.

    Until this controversy I had never heard of the Scorpions or gone to their website.

    Now I have and seen the image.

    It's a bit tasteless by modern standards but there is much worse easily accessible anywhere on the internet.

    More worrying is that IWF seem to be able to act as judge and jury without any accountability or legimacy.

    By targeting the inoffensive Wikipedia rather than commercial sites which have the same image they look like bullies and cowards.

    I fear that all they have done is raised the profile of this band; annoyed lots of people; and made the task of protecting people from real child pornography more difficult.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'd forgotten all about Virgin Killer, at worst it is kiddy porn and at best it is a distasteful piece of art.

    What is the legal point on it?

    I gather it has been deemed to contravene the obscene publications act?-

  • Comment number 67.

    What I find most amusing is that the BBC Newsarticle on this gives a link to the Scorpions website, which contains the image in question (with the usual disclaimer that the BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites). Before the IWF action hardly anyone apart from fans of the band would have seen this cover, now it is going to get millions of hits.

  • Comment number 68.

    Well I've just done a Google Image Search with the Strict Safe Search filter on. Strict... The highest level Google offers on search term filtering...

    First 21 images
    That album cover appears 8 times, including a lovely version from Valleywag with Jimmy Wales appearing in it.

    I've spoke to Jimmy a few times, and he'll be very angry at this. I hope he speaks out about it.

  • Comment number 69.

    I suspect that they have not banned the cached page on Google. This is a hamfisted stupid censorship that simply brings the picture to the attention of people who would otherwise not have known about it.

  • Comment number 70.

    All seems a bit silly when you just have to pop along to amazon.com and see the album cover - and I'm sure it wlll be elsewhere too. Still, good publicity for The Scorpions although none of their albums will be on my Xmas list.

  • Comment number 71.

    TonyByers: "The simplest solution to get the Wikipedia page back is to put the re-released cover on there which is a picture of the five members of the band."

    You're missing the point - Wikipedia have no obligation to change the image in response to the IWF, anymore than they would for some organisation in any other country. The image is a part of an article - it is notable as part of the controversy. Just imagine saying "The original article was rather controversial, but we can't show it to you because it was too controversial and got banned in another country"!

    If the picture in question is obviously child porn, then the US authorities should deal with it. Come to that, prosecute the record companies in the first place for making it. At the least, the IWF shouldn't block clearly legal text, and they should be consistent with sites such as Amazon (not to mention what about all the books with this image, or the fact that you can legally buy the CD from UK stores).

    jayfurneaux: "The argument `has it been found illegal?` doesn`t stand. Child sexual abuse, pedophilia, downloading child pornography etc clearly are illegal and this has the support of the vast majority."

    That those things are illegal are not in dispute. The point of debate is whether this image constitutes "child sexual abuse", thus the argument that a court has not ruled it illegal, in 30 years of child porn law, is perfectly valid (not to mention that even if this image should be banned, there are plenty of other points that people have raised too).

    "as there is a clear difference in depiction and intent that would be understood by both public and jury." I'm glad we don't need to bother with the courts anymore, we can just guess what they'll think! What's your opinion about the Nevermind cover, or Blind Faith?

  • Comment number 72.

    I remembered the Scorpions from my school days and think one or two of my friends may even have had this album but couldn't remember the cover. So, being curious - I thought I'd see if the wikipedia page was blocked for me and it was. It was, however, very easy to view both the page and the album cover for anyone who knows their way around the internet. I did find the image somewhat offensive (although the article certainly isn't), but certainly not worthy of a ban. The experience then made me realise that thousands of people will have done what I did this morning - decided to find out what the fuss was about. The net result is that thousands more people will have seen the picture today who otherwise would not have!
    Seems to me that the do-gooders just shot themselves in the foot!

  • Comment number 73.

    Reposting in chunks because it I cannot fathom out why I keep getting blocked - apologies.

    I am in full agreement with the points made by David Gerard, and the point about how ISPs should be honest about the block rather than faking error messages. The BBC's Bill Thompson raised these issues years ago.

    Another problem is that all accesses to Wikipedia (i.e., for any page) are being redirected by ISPs through a single IP address. This means that Wikipedia cannot distinguish between different users when it comes to detecting abusive edits, so they have had to block all edits from those who are not logged in (existing registered users can still edit).

  • Comment number 74.

    @59 Rainbowfire.

    I thought the law stated that it is illegal if the person appears to be underage (though I may be wrong). I admit that there is a contradiction between this and porn site with women dressed up as school girls. Where the boundary between the two cases is I don't know. Art and porn very closely linked.

  • Comment number 75.

    From January, a new law will come into force criminalising possession of "extreme" pornography (also reported by the BBC here) - including acts between consenting adults (even staged/fictional acts, and screenshots from legal films). Government guidance has suggested that the IWF will also be handling this new law. This new law is far vaguer and broader than child porn law, so how many sites will be blocked because there is something the IWF think may "potentially" be "extreme"? Images that may potentially fall under the law have been found on mainstream non-porn sites, and whilst a prosecution for such sites may be unlikely, this shows that the IWF are not afraid to censor major websites, even if the context is clearly not abusive or pornographic.

  • Comment number 76.

    Whilst I have no problem with the IWF or removing illegal websites from the public domain, this has overstepped the mark.
    It seems ridiculous that with "moderate safe search" on you can access at least 20 pictures of the offending album cover on google, uncensored.
    Why the IWF saw fit to remove the whole article is beyond me. An organisation acting Judge, jury and executioner in this day and age is unacceptable.

  • Comment number 77.

    Shouldn't it be up to the courts to decide what is legal or not? The IWF has no accountability, and offers no way to appeal incorrectly blocked material.

    I'm glad that one mainstream UK media source has the balls to not only tell us the article, but link to the article in question. Consider, if this was really child porn, would any mainstream media source touch it with a bargepole? Would hundreds of thousands of people be rushing to see the image? Does anyone who claims this image is "child porn" really think anyone who's looked at it now deserves time in prison for possession?

    The IWF claim that they go after "Child sexual abuse content". Is this an image of child sexual abuse? If a child was really abused, then why not go after the record company or band for producing this image? That they are in another country does not matter, due to international consensus on these laws. It's not like this is some unknown image - the source is clearly known. But if no crime was committed in the production, then it should not be censored.

  • Comment number 78.

    @morias: "Comparing the ethical and correct (!) censorship of images the police have advised as illegal, to the Chinese system whereby all non-conformist thought is censored, is extremely misleading."

    Who says it's correct? And isn't it the job of the courts to decide what's illegal, not the police? I'm sure that the police in China say that those things are illegal, too...

    @theSliver: It appears that Demon are being more sensible, in that they don't block the main article page, and inform users why the image page is blocked. The other ISPs (I can confirm Virgin Media, at least) are not.

    @-RobW-: I am in full agreement - the BBC is setting up a false dichotomy. It's possible to have freedom of speech, without giving up the fight against images of child abuse. Is this an image of child abuse?

  • Comment number 79.

    China have their Great Firewall of China. We have Hadrians Firewall!

    http://www.hadriansfirewall.co.uk

  • Comment number 80.

    It would be better if the whole of WP was blocked; it's just garbage that clogs up almost every Google search with lame articles written by unemployed kooks and cranks.

  • Comment number 81.

    We are born naked, and to proscribe images of children in their natural state is absurd. The problem here is with over-prescriptive legislation that makes this quite innocent image illegal, even though it did not involve any exploitation or abuse, according to its subject, and even has a "fig leaf". To censor this image is absurd, but it is an illegal image under New Labour, and the IWF is just doing its job.

    To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin:

    "He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither."

    A principle which the present UK government has repeatedly legislated against, obliterating British traditions of personal freedom and responsibility.

  • Comment number 82.

    Reply to jdkoke273 (no.44)

    What I mean about the normalization of porn is how 'strong' porn (ie showing actual sex) can be accessed so easily these days - it's no longer just the 'randy' Benny Hill-style page3 approach to titillation that I grew up with in the 70s, it's full-on hard-core porn (quite often with an emphasis on humiliation) that is becoming more and more mainstream, and that's the kind of stuff kids are growing up with now.

    So if that sort of thing is getting 'normalized' (ie accepted as mainstream) then, presumably, so will pictures of nude children.

    True, art is full of nude children - but I can't think of a single painting with a title along the lines of 'Virgin Killer'.

    Scorpians? Art? I don't think so.

    It's FINE to revise things, we move on, we learn, we improve as a society.

    Think how much condemnation Bill Wyman would have got if his affair with a 13 year old had surfaced now - he'd get the Gary Glitter treatment for sure. Times change.

  • Comment number 83.

    Let me see. 'Virgin Killer' was release in the 1970s, roughly 30 years ago.
    It was considered 'distasteful' in some countries and the sleeve was swapped.

    All of a sudden, the IWF get upset, having found the image on Wikipedia, even though its available via Google images.

    So, why block one page when the image is everywhere? Since the image has been visible for three decades, the actions of the IWF only serve to show them as self-appointed, intefering busy-bodies, which I very much doubt is how they'd rather be shown.

    Get a grip, will you.

  • Comment number 84.

    "Accepting the need" for *anything* is a dangerous first step down a road to perdition.

    If they *have* to censor us (and I'm not convinced of the need) perhaps using the grey matter first would help.

    An album cover, however objectionable, is produced by the thousand and, in the case of "Nevermind" by Nirvana, in the millions.

    By extension, does owning either of the albums consitute possession of child pornography? If it DOES then I am guilty as charged. If it doesn't, then why block the image at all.

    Once again, messed up thinking. It's a trait we Brits are actually pretty good at.

  • Comment number 85.

    Firstly I used to have a copy of this Scorpions album whose cover depicts a (broken) glass covered picture of a naked young girl. The girl's modesty is preserved by a strategically placed crack in the broken glass.
    In this age of Orwellian political correctness, it might not be in the best taste but the cover was made years ago when this degree of witch hunt about child images did not exist. There is no way that this image could possibly be rated as CP even by the strictest standards otherwise you might as well say that ALL pictures of naked children are banned even when you cannot see their genitals. What utter tosh from the IWF who are just seeking to force their political views onto other people. I am a father of two primary school children and fear for their safety more from the Orwellian State that the UK is becoming than from Internet predators.

  • Comment number 86.

    Blind Faith's debut album cover contains a similar image, however, it can still be viewed. At least be consistent.

  • Comment number 87.

    The offending cover is still on the Japanese version - which I bought in HMV in Tokyo last year. I guess they'll be blocking album covers by Blind Faith and Led Zeppelin too.

    The Scorpions cover (unlike the Blind Faith one with its budding boobs) obscures the genitalia of the girl with a strategically placed cracked glass effect. Most of their covers are risque so where is the censorship going to start and stop?

    I thought we had a nanny state, and enacted legislation for such things and didn't rely on ISPs to be our moral guardians.

    And the Scorpions are hardly obscure or a 70s act. Very much alive and current, still selling out all over the world. At their commercial height in the 80s actually. Selling a great deal more records that obscure acts like Take That and Cliff Richard worldwide.

  • Comment number 88.

    I am mostly intrigued that either Orange isn't a member of the IWF, or the fact that this image is no longer on the Wikipedia page for the band. Though it is still on the Wikipedia page for the album, neither of which I dare link to but which are still perfectly accessible.

    If paedophiles had really been forced to resort to scouring wikipedia for album images I think we could all feel slightly happier unfortunately, I doubt this is that case, and more I feel a piece of idiotic censoring. Given the band weren't arrested at any point in the last 30 yearsf or it, I assume that the IWFs argument that it needed to be blocked until the legality of the imagecould be checked is a little bit fanciful.

  • Comment number 89.

    The Internet Watch Foundation is typical of many organisations of its ilk, in that it was to feel like it's doing something, even if what it does serves absolutely no useful purpose. What does censoring the mainstream web achieve? Every new report that we read about a paedophile ring being busted tells us that they use increasingly sophisticated encryption technologies in order to remain undetected. The reason: any real paedophile who tries to use the mainstream web to find and download child pornography is going to be detected and arrested rather quickly.

    Which suggests that the true purpose of the IWF is to censor the internet for the majority of us who have absolutely no prurient interest in such pictures. The IWF is not censoring to avoid the images falling into the hands of the minority who are child-abusers, the are censoring the internet for the majority who aren't. This is a form of censorship that I cannot support: a self-appointed body with no legal jurisdiction deciding what I can and cannot see. I do not need them "protecting" me from the images and my viewing any images does no more damage to the subject than the censors at the IWF viewing it. I see little justification for the actions of the IWF, as I am quite capable of deciding for myself what is distasteful and what isn't.

  • Comment number 90.

    @71 _mdwh_

    Take this to the extreme; what if someone has posted pictures of child porn - not just borderline cases like this? I'm sure most would hope that it would be blocked or taken down.

  • Comment number 91.

    Well, the page and image are in the Google cache.

    I don't find the image particularly bad, although it's not my cup of tea at all. It's somewhat tasteless and that's all.

    Of more concern is organisations like the IWF. Personally, I'd ban such unelected bodies from having any say in the matter. The trouble is that these days we are being dictated to by a minority of "child minders" in the likes of the IWF, NSPCC, etc. They've helped more in creating a sense of paranoia in society than actually doing anything useful about real child exploitation.

  • Comment number 92.

    The legality of an image must be decided by the courts.

    NOT a self-appointed internet Nanny that uses the threat of "potential illegality" to scare ISP into doing what they want (whilst leaving the same image on Amazon alone, because Amazon have big scary lawyers to look after them).

    This is a very dangerous path.

  • Comment number 93.

    It is a very slippery slope, when a body that doesn't have any real accountability starts blocking sites and images on the whim of a single user and the half-hearted statement by the police, then you may as well switch off the internet.

    Nobody wants depravity on the net, but on the other hand, I can buy DVD box sets of old TV series from the 70's that even despite Mary Whitehouse's best efforts compared to today's TV was quite hard hitting.

    These "bodies" need to be open to a lot more scrutiny, as if it wasn't bad enough that you're being filmed 24/7 in the UK these days, but even the internet is being censored.


    I'm glad I'm out of it.

  • Comment number 94.

    Unless the IWF intend to trott out their censorship/dictatorship across the entire internet, you can still find this on a google search by images as I have just found out. Pretty useless action really.

    Like other contributor's, my thoughts are on where will the line be drawn?

    Bow Wow Wow's Annabelle Lewin naked on the front of their album - she was 15 at the time if I remember correctly.

    Nirvana's Nevermind as already mentioned a couple of times.

    There are others I'm sure.

    Another self-important group of pious do-gooders is the last thing this country needs.

  • Comment number 95.

    @77

    Yes, it should be up to the courts - not the IWF, not the ISPs, and certainly not some flat footed copper that the IWF happens to call and say 'is this kiddie porn? yeah? ok'.

    Even further to that, it should be up to the courts ON EACH CASE. Censorship doesn't solve anything, 'we're banning this so you can't break the law' is not a valid argument in any way or shape.

  • Comment number 96.

    Rory,

    Maybe it's worth checking if the Radio One record library has a copy of this album. We wouldn't want Auntie caught in possession of illegal images, eh? Just imagine the BBC, Amazon, Google and all the other services that host this image getting busted.

    IWF = WTF

  • Comment number 97.

    Hi

    As has been stated in previous messages here, this image has not been declaired illegal in any westen country, yet the IWF deem to add this page to the list of blocked sites, I find this to be totally unacceptible that the IWF should do this to an image that has not been declired illgeal and is also availble in other published formats round the world, seem very heavy handed.

    Another user has said what next the banning of the BNP website, this could happen under the IWF remit thay can add sites to the list if thay are hosted in the UK and publish rasist material, so if the site of the BNP was to put any such matrial on there site either delibritaly or maliscously, the IWF could indeed add them to the banned list, so any member ISP's would as thay have done with the wikki page block access to the site.

    I dont object to the work of the IWF in produceing the list of banned sites where the site is blatantly peddling child porn as this would stop me or any one else accidently accessing the site(S).

    But i think in this case the reaction of the IWF has been over the top and will ultimately do more harm to there reputaion than good.

  • Comment number 98.

    IWF have a job to do, fair enough. But it should be open and transparent - to the extent that ISPs should admit this goes on, though I imagine there might be reasons for returning a fake error message, so that more sophisticated computer users are not encouraged to bypass that route to get to the porn.

    OTOH, I understand that most paedophiles have moved on and use p2p to spread their images. How likely is it that a simple, open website is going to show child porn to a casual browser?

    The image in question is distasteful, certainly, as is the Blind Faith cover, but times have changed since then, and it's unlikely such images would be used again. I think they're images that should be available, but contextualised - the debate should be had about them, and why they are distasteful.

    Does this mean that anyone who owns the original cover art is now a paedophile who owns child porn? Are those of us who nipped off to see what the fuss is about, and who have prefetch images on our computer now in possession of child porn? Are in fact makers of child porn, as downloading is making for legal purposes?

  • Comment number 99.

    haveing a"nonegovernmental" GESTAPO is worse than appointed henchmen. Thought police is the beginning of the end ,as discribed by George Orwell.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dear jdkoke273 at no. 44

    Well, I tried to reply to your question. I was convinced I even had a reasonably balanced argument going.

    But it seems I got censored (no. 88). How ironic.

 

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