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December 12, 2008

German internet watchdog to remove URLs to \’Virgin Killer\’ from search engines

German internet watchdog to remove URLs to ‘Virgin Killer’ from search engines

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews has learned that a German Internet watchdog group is planning on removing the album cover of a German rock band album called Virgin Killer from search engines, just four days after the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), in the United Kingdom, blocked access to it on the free encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Wikipedia, along with Wikinews, are owned by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The German association for voluntary self-regulation in online media (FSM) asked the Federal Inspectorate for young people media (BPjM) on December 9, to remove URLs to the album cover from Germany’s search engines. The action appears to be in direct response to the Wikipedia article and image blockage by the IWF on December 7. According to their website, the BPjM’s goal is to “protect children and adolescents in Germany from any media which might contain harmful or dangerous content”, pursuant to Germany’s Youth Protection Act. The protection act regulates the distribution of harmful materials to minors. According to German press reports, the FSM received complaints and concerns that the image could be considered child pornography and pose a danger to minors.

The Virgin Killer album cover is from the 1976 German rock band Scorpions. It depicts a girl who appears to be around 10 to 12-years old, posing nude, with a lens crack crossing over her genitals, but nothing blocking out her breasts. It first appeared on the band’s album over thirty years ago, and Klaus Meine, the lead singer for Scorpions, recently said that they regret having made the cover. It was later replaced with a photo of the band.

Despite the complaint, the FSM does not believe the album cover is actually child pornography, but says the dissemination of images of underage children as appears on the album cover, is “forbidden” in Germany.

“The picture shows the girl in an unnatural ‘pose’, and a such depiction is prohibited according to the German Youth Media Protection Law,” said Maja Winter to Wikinews in an exclusive statement.

The URLs to the album cover will be blocked from being displayed or searched in search results in the German search engine service, which according to Winter “are members of the FSM”. Winter also added that internet users in Germany will not be blocked from accessing the image.

1976 album cover for Scorpions which previously appeared on Amazon.com, and many other sites.
Image: RCA/Scorpions.

“The URL will thus still be online, but will not be searchable by the respective search engine services. The FSM is not planning nor developing nor implementing an internet filter on the access-level to block [the cover],” added Winter who also said that she had no information on previous complaints in the past 30 years. Winter also could not answer why the FSM decided to take such an action after so many years of the album cover being available and should contact the BPjM for more information. Despite the claim from the FSM, the BPjM said in a statement to Wikinews that they denied having any knowledge of any such attempt at removing URLs to the cover.

“The BPjM has no knowledge of any measures being taken to block the depiction of the album cover from German search engines,” said Petra Meier, a spokesperson for the BPjM to Wikinews. The spokesperson also added that there have been no complaints filed with the BPjM regarding the cover.

As first reported by Wikinews on December 7, British Internet Service Providers (ISPs) implemented a monitoring and filtering mechanism that blocked access to the album cover and the album’s article on Wikipedia. The measures applied redirect traffic for a significant portion of the UK’s Internet population through six servers which can log and filter the content that is available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals and other troublemakers without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent contributors who are working on the sites in good faith. The IWF said that the image could “contain illegal” material, but on December 9, reversed their decision and unblocked the image and article.

“The Protection of Children Act 1978 as amended in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, makes it an offence to take, make, permit to be taken, distribute, show, possess with intent to distribute, and advertise indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children under the age of 18. The ‘making’ of such images includes downloading, that is, making a copy of a child sexual abuse image on a computer, so, in the UK, accessing such content online is a serious criminal offence,” said the IWF in a statement on their website on December 7. Despite this, Mike Godwin, the legal counsel for Wikimedia said on December 9 that the image does not appear to be illegal anywhere in the world.

“We recognize the good intentions of Internet watch groups, including their focus on blocking and discouraging illegal content. Nevertheless, this incident underscores the need for transparency and accountability in the processes of the Internet Watch Foundation and similar bodies around the world,” said the legal counsel for Wikimedia, Mike Godwin. On December 8, Godwin stated that there is “no reason to believe the article, or the image contained in the article, has been held to be illegal in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world.”



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Wikipedia Learn more about The Federal Inspectorate for young people media (BPjM) and the Youth Protection Act in German, on Wikipedia.
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December 9, 2008

IWF reverses censorship of Wikipedia

IWF reverses censorship of Wikipedia – Wikinews, the free news source

IWF reverses censorship of Wikipedia

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Graphical map of the Internet
More information at Wikipedia:
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  • World Wide Web

On December 7, Wikinews first reported that some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom, were filtering access to an image and an article on the popular, free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, amid allegations that they contain child pornography. The filter was brought into play by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which has stated that today they have removed the ban.

Users attempting to access the page on the Virgin Killer album, or the image itself, have been subjected to it not loading, 404 pages, or messages explaining the block.

The IWF said, in a statement on its website, that “the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.” However, the organization does maintain that “the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978.”

At approximately 19:45 UTC, the ban was removed for customers of Virgin Media, who were previously unable to access the Virgin Killer article or the associated image.

The image and article in question is that of the 1976 album Virgin Killer, a studio album by the Scorpions, a German rock band. The controversy began after the image of the album’s original cover, which depicted a naked prepubescent girl, was reported to the IWF in early December. Wikinews first discovered the controversial image in May 2008 after there were several attempts to delete it on Wikipedia. The image had been blocked because the IWF considered it to be “potentially illegal”. As a result, the IWF have contacted authorities in the United States and in the UK.

British visitors to Wikipedia can now see the full article and the associated image
Image: Wikipedia.

The measures applied redirect Wikipedia-bound traffic from a significant portion of the UK’s Internet population through a small number of servers which can log and filter the content that is available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals and other troublemakers without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent contributors who are working on the sites in good faith.

Contributors or individuals attempting to view an affected image or file, depending on their ISP, may get a warning saying, “we have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.”. Other ISPs provide blank pages, 404 errors, or other means of blocking the content.

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December 8, 2008

Wikimedia, IWF respond to block of Wikipedia over child pornography allegations

Wikimedia, IWF respond to block of Wikipedia over child pornography allegations

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Monday, December 8, 2008

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  • World Wide Web

On December 7, Wikinews first reported that some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom, were filtering access to an image and an article on the popular, free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, amid allegations that they contain child pornography. The filter was brought into play by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which issued a statement regarding the filtering shortly after Wikinews published the article. Wikimedia, the host of Wikinews and Wikipedia oppose the IWF’s actions, also issuing a statement.

“A Wikipedia web page, was reported through the IWF’s online reporting mechanism in December 2008. As with all child sexual abuse reports received by our Hotline analysts, the image was assessed according to 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, but hosted outside the UK,” said the IWF in a statement posted on their website.

Users attempting to access the page on the Virgin Killer album, or the image itself, have been subjected to it not loading, 404 pages, or messages explaining the block.

The image and article in question is that of the 1976 album Virgin Killer, a studio album by the Scorpions, a German rock band. The controversy began after the image of the album’s original cover, which depicted a naked prepubescent girl, was reported to the IWF in early December. Wikinews first discovered the controversial image in May 2008 after there were several attempts to delete it on Wikipedia. The image had been blocked because the IWF considered it to be “potentially illegal”. As a result, the IWF have contacted authorities in the United States and in the UK.

The measures applied redirect Wikipedia-bound traffic from a significant portion of the UK’s Internet population through a small number of servers which can log and filter the content that is available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals and other troublemakers without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent contributors who are working on the sites in good faith.

Contributors or individuals attempting to view an affected image or file, depending on their ISP, may get a warning saying, “we have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.”. Other ISPs provide blank pages, 404 errors, or other means of blocking the content.

1976 album cover for the Scorpions which previously appeared on Amazon.com, and many other sites.
Image: RCA/Scorpions.

Wikimedia was not informed that the image would be blacklisted because the IWF “does not issue takedown notices to ISPs or hosting companies outside the UK”. The servers for Wikimedia projects are located in Florida in the U.S., and according to Jay Walsh, the head of communications for Wikimedia, the Foundation “opposes” the action taken by the IWF.

“The IWF has confirmed to the Wikimedia Foundation that it has added Wikipedia to its blacklist, which also had the unintended consequence of rendering UK-based internet users unable to edit the encyclopedia,” said Walsh.

“We did advise one of our partner Hotlines abroad and our law enforcement partner agency of our assessment. The specific URL (individual webpage) was then added to the list provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to a potentially illegal indecent image of a child,” added the statement by the IWF.

“We have no reason to believe the article, or the image contained in the article, has been held to be illegal in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world. We believe it’s worth noting that the image is currently visible on Amazon, where the album can be freely purchased by UK residents. It is available on thousands of websites that are accessible to the UK public,” said Mike Godwin, legal counsel for Wikimedia. The cover has since been removed from Amazon.com.

Wikimedia projects such as Wikinews state in their policies that they are “not censored”. Wikimedia will continue discussions with the IWF in hopes of resolving the issue.



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December 7, 2008

British ISPs restrict access to Wikipedia amid child pornography allegations

British ISPs restrict access to Wikipedia amid child pornography allegations

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Internet
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  • Wikinews interviews Mario J. Lucero and Isabel Ruiz of Heaven Sent Gaming
  • Parts of internet break as ‘512k day’ reached by routers

Graphical map of the Internet
More information at Wikipedia:
  • Internet portal
  • Internet
  • History of the Internet
  • Internet censorship
  • Internet Protocol
  • World Wide Web

Wikinews has learned at least six of the United Kingdom’s main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have implemented monitoring and filtering mechanisms that are causing major problems for UK contributors on websites operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, in addition to 1,200 other websites. The filters appear to be applied because Wikimedia sites are hosting a Scorpions album cover which some call child pornography. Scorpions are a German hard rock band who have used several controversial album covers and are perhaps best known for the song Rock You Like a Hurricane.

The measures applied redirect traffic for a significant portion of the UK’s Internet population through six servers which can log and filter the content available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals, and other troublemakers, without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent UK contributors who work on WMF sites in good faith.

The filtering is in response to the Internet Watch Foundation’s list of websites that host content reported to contain inappropriate images of naked children. The IWF considers those images child pornography. However, in the United States, where the websites of the Wikimedia Foundation are hosted, it is not considered obscene under the criteria of the Miller test, which requires that an obscene work lack “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value” – as album art is used to “brand” the album, it is considered to be artistic.

Contributors or individuals attempting to view an affected image or file, depending on their ISP, may get a warning saying, “we have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.” Other ISPs provide blank pages, 404 errors, or other means of blocking the content. Due to a configuration mistake at one Internet service provider, some users have reported being totally unable to access Wikimedia sites to the Wikipedia technical help desk.

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“The Protection of Children Act 1978 as amended in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, makes it an offence to take, make, permit to be taken, distribute, show, possess with intent to distribute, and advertise indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children under the age of eighteen. The ‘making’ of such images includes downloading, that is, making a copy of a child sexual abuse image on a computer, so, in the UK, accessing such content online is a serious criminal offence,” says the IWF on their website in an article updated on November 28. The IWF say there are at least 800 to 1,200 websites on the list of those who host or contain offensive material. The list is not public and the IWF never notified Wikimedia Foundation about the blocking of Wikipedia content. The affected page does not display any message informing the user about blocked content on most ISPs, instead, a technical error message is shown.

However, Demon Internet redirects users to a block message on the IWF’s site explaining that the page was blocked as the organization suspects child porn or links to it to be present. The IWF states that, “we do not notify site owners that their websites are on our list.”

1976 album cover for the Scorpions which also appears on Amazon.com and many other sites.
Image: RCA/Scorpions.

The concern for Wikimedia is for some images like an album cover from a 1976 record of the Scorpions titled Virgin Killer. It displays an underage girl, posing nude, with a lens crack crossing over her genitals, but nothing blocking out her breasts. The girl appears to be around ten years old. In the U.S., the band later replaced the image with one of the group. The cover was uploaded to Wikipedia in 2006, but Wikinews learned that on May 9, 2008 at (21:17 UTC), despite a result of strong consensus to ‘keep’ in a deletion request, the image was deleted, however for a different reason. It was deleted due to a claim by an administrator that it violated Wikipedia’s policy for dealing with copyrighted images, which require that any images used under the doctrine of fair use must alongside other criteria, “significantly increase readers’ understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding”, with the administrator claiming that the article “lacked meaningful discussion” of the album art. This result was overturned using the deletion review process. Earlier, on December 6, the image was put back up for a deletion request, but it was later closed as Wikimedia “does not censor”.

Another image that is questionable could be a screenshot from the 1938 film Child Bride. Its goal was to bring to light the attempts at banning child marriages. In the article on Wikipedia, a screenshot appears of then 12-year-old Shirley Mills partially naked after skinny dipping. In the photo, at least one of her breasts can be seen.

Other albums featuring nudity below the age of sixteen have previously caused controversy; Blind Faith attracted criticism as did Houses of the Holy, and Nirvana’s Nevermind.

Multiple companies have gone public stating that they implement the recommendations of the Internet Watch Foundation. Not all of these are known to have implemented measures against Wikimedia sites; the major UK ISPs thought to have affected Wikimedia sites are Telefonica O2/Be Unlimited, Virgin Media, Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and Opal Telecommunications (TalkTalk).

Wikinews has contacted Wikimedia’s legal counsel, Mike Godwin and the IWF for a statement, but neither have replied as of this time.

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