IDG News Service —
A Wikipedia page blacklisted this weekend in the U.K. over child pornography concerns has been unblocked, a decision that also fully restores the ability of U.K. residents to edit articles in this popular online encyclopedia.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the nonprofit group that blacklisted the Web page, announced on Tuesday that it has reversed course on the matter, although it still believes the image is potentially illegal in the U.K. The image in question is of a naked and possibly underage female on the cover of a 1976 album from German rock group The Scorpions titled "Virgin Killer."
"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," the IWF said in a statement. About 95 percent of U.K. ISPs (Internet service providers), by Wikimedia's estimate, block Web pages based on IWF's list.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit operator of Wikipedia, praised the IWF's decision. "We are grateful to the IWF for making this swift decision, and to thousands of Internet users from around the world for their outpouring of support," said Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, in a statement.
Upon finding out that the article had been blacklisted, Wikimedia on Sunday cried foul, saying the move amounted to censorship and pointing out that the block had disabled most U.K. residents' ability to edit Wikipedia articles.
Wikimedia further argued that the block unfairly targeted Wikipedia because the image is available broadly across the Web, including at giant online retailer Amazon.com, which, according to Wikimedia, sells the album. Amazon.com didn't respond to a request for comment on Monday. Neither the article nor the image has been determined to be illegal anywhere in the world, according to Wikimedia.
The album has been controversial due to the cover image since its release more than three decades ago, and the Wikipedia article in question is "explanatory" in nature, describing and contextualizing "the controversy surrounding the image, in a neutral and educational fashion," Wikimedia said in a FAQ devoted to the issue.
The chain of events got started on Dec. 4, when the IWF received a report from someone objecting to the Wikipedia article about the album that featured the cover image. Upon reviewing the user's complaint, the IWF, which works with law enforcement to block and remove child pornography online, decided to blacklist this Web page. ISPs that block pages based on the IWF's list then took action to shut off access to the offending Wikipedia article.