Was the IWF right on the Wikipedia issue?

In the last few weeks, the Internet Watch Foundation – which I chaired for the six years 2000-2005 – has been in the centre of a storm over its decision to put on a blacklist a page on Wikipedia which contained an image which it judged to be potentially illegal. The most thoughtful piece that I have read on the subject is here.
I support the blacklist approach and the blocking by Internet Service Providers of access to child abuse images on that list – a process introduced during my time at IWF. Knowing what I do of the IWF’s procedures, I can understand why it took the decision it did to place that particular image on the blacklist. However, in all the circumstances, I think that, given the long-standing accessibility of the image, its lowest level on the scale of potential illegality and the reputable nature of the web site in question, the IWF Board was right to remove the page from the list.
These are though very difficult judgment calls and it doesn’t help when the word ‘censorship’ is casually thrown around. The more public and policymakers understand the processes of the IWF and the more transparency that we can exhibit around the conduct of the IWF and ISPs in this area the better. But this will never be an easy or uncontroversial matter.


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