IWF revoked its decision to block access to Wikipedia

IWF revoked its decision to block access to Wikipedia…. I will write soon a commentary on this but Who Watches the Watchmen? I thought courts of law decide on matters to do with legality or illegality. This is no more than “privatized censorship” in the absence of due process.

It is worth reading their (very recently amended) appeals procedure which states at the end that “If the complainant appeals against the reassessment decision the assessment on whether the content is potentially illegal according to the relevant UK legislation made by senior managers in CEOP or the Metropolitan Police will be final.”

Apparently they have not heard about due process or about the possibility of an appeal to a court of law. The IWF nor the police have the “power” to “block access” to any website. They are not “empowered by law” to block access to websites and there are no legal measures under UK law which provide “blocking as a preventative measure”.

It is now the right time to discuss these matters more openly and publicly scrutinize the role of the IWF. [Blog entry by Yaman Akdeniz]

IWF statement regarding Wikipedia webpage: “IWF statement regarding Wikipedia webpage

IWF LogoA Wikipedia webpage was reported through the IWF’s online reporting mechanism on 4 December 2008. As with all potentially illegal online child sexual abuse reports we receive, the image was assessed according to current UK legislation and in accordance with the UK Sentencing Guidelines Council (page 109). The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18, hosted outside the UK. As such, in accordance with IWF procedures, the specific webpage was added to the IWF list. This list is provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to help protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to potentially illegal indecent images of children.

Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure and has given careful consideration to the issues involved in this case. The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978. However, the IWF Board has today (9 December 2008) considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.

Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted abroad, will not be added to the list. Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted in the UK will be assessed in line with IWF procedures.

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.

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