It seems that Wikipedia, the ultra-popular user-generated online encycplopedia, has been placed on the Internet Watch Foundation black list.

The IWF, based in the UK, bills itself as: “The UK Hotline for reporting illegal content specifically: Child sexual abuse content hosted worldwide and criminally obscene and incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK.”

According to an IWF 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.”

The offending page apparently contains a 1970’s-vintage album cover which was deemed to meet the IWF’s criteria for child porn.

As a Wikipedia Administrator’s Notice explains, the IWF asked ISPs to block only the offending page. But, as a result of the way the block was instituted, 95 per cent of UK Internet users attempting to view Wikipedia — for whatever reason — are being forced to queue up for just a few proxy gateways to the site now available to them.

The upshot of that is… Wikipedia Admins can’t track down vandals from the UK behind the proxy gateways, when they deface articles. So, the popular site has suspended access for editing of Wikipedia entries to what amounts to about 95 per cent of UK Internet users. The Admins also warn of ‘a possible slowdown’ for UK users trying to view the site.

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