There’s been a lot in the news over the weekend regarding IWF blocking access to an article Wikipedia. I recently covered the IWF in this blog. Now it has hit the heights of the news this morning on BBC Radio 4.
The IWF provides blacklists to ISPs of www links that they consider to have child pornography content and this is what it has done in this case with Wikipedia (link to Wikipedia article here).
Consumer ISPs block these links by using proxy servers as filters. However in doing so they are channelling all traffic to Wikipedia through a small number of IP addresses. This in turn causes problems for users of Wikipedia because the website occasionally blocks the ip addresses of abusive users to prevent them from editing articles. Because all users are seen as coming from the same IP addresses Wikipedia can’t distinguish between good and bad and this has the knock on effect of blocking many genuine editors. Around 25% of all English language articles are said to be edited by UK based users.
According to Alexa.com Wikipedia ranks as world’s the 8th most visited website. The IWF statement on the issue can be found here. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem which is very much part of an ongoing debate regarding censorship on the internet.