back to article Brit ISPs censor Wikipedia over 'child porn' album cover

Six British ISPs are filtering access to Wikipedia after the site was added to an Internet Watch Foundation child-pornography blacklist, according to Wikipedia administrators. As of Sunday morning UK time, certain British web surfers were unable to view at least one Wikipedia article tagged with ostensible child porn. And, in …


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  1. Christopher Martin

    I'm mostly bothered by the 404

    .... because it's a lie. 4-- errors indicate a client error. We're going to need a new error code.

    506: Server returned censored content.

  2. Paul McClure

    ISP function

    I thought that ISP's were to provide access to the Internet not their version. Is this why I get a US flag on web pages and several other non US news web sites?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Is it blocked?

    I just clicked on the link and there was the page without any censoring. Does this mean they decided to allow it? I'm on Plusnet.

    I guess Paris Hilton will have to do for a confused icon.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oddly enough...

    I'm on Demon, and can see the image fine. No filtering for me then!

  5. Jonas Taylor

    Surely some common sense?

    Nudity is not a crime. There is no sexual intent here so it is not pornography. It seems sad that modern society cannot tolerate the idea of our natural form being displayed, compounded here by the subject being a child. I also find it sad that as an adult I have to worry about talking to a child I don't know for fear of being seen as a sexual predator, especially as kids look up to adults for guidance. What sort of message does it send to a child for adults to have to ignore them or break eye-contact for fear of being condemned by society?

    Obviously there should be laws and systems in place to prevent abuse, especially to protect children, but it seems even the slightest suggestion of a link to child pornography - no matter how baseless - sends everyone panicking. No doubt it won't be long till we have MPs jumping up to take the limelight on such an issue and pick a stance that no-one could not object to, like "I oppose child pornography". And all this over a pointless album cover that is of no real significance.

    I don't know what the answer is but I just know that what we've got now is very broken.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhat bizarrely

    While the pages containing information on the album, and image in question are censored, neither the image itself, or the thumbnail are blocked. Viewing the page through google cache which refrains from caching images, renders the page complete, images and all.

    If they're going to censor content, the very least they could do is censor the offending content, not just a few arbitrary links to it.

  7. mike
    Black Helicopters

    clicked the link

    no problem page displays im on demon this if the article correct shows how imposible it is to censor the net polititions take note esp. australia.

  8. Chris Johnson
    Thumb Up


    Alternatively, browse Wikipedia via the secure site for a censorship free experience ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blocking is pointless

    Well I'm on Virgin Media and the page is blocked for me. It's a bit of a sad affair that if this continues we'll no longer be able to contribute to Wikipedia, although I can see this escalating. These kind of situations always turn into a mexican stand-off where the only person that gets hurt is the end-user.

    The image is still available for blocked users that happen to browse to the WikiNews page linked to in the article. Goes to show that if you use an enforcement system that relies on just blocking access to a single source it will be available at a different location almost immediately.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm also on Demon, and can see the article and image. However I get "Anonymous editing from your Internet Provider is disabled, please log in." etc if I try and edit the page.

  11. Chris Johnson
    Thumb Up


    Head to Wikipedia's secure server (in the FQDN, change www [or en] to secure) and you get Wikipedia uncensored...

  12. Graham Murray

    IP forgery

    Maybe the people affected by this should complain to their ISPs that they are forging the origin of the page requests. RFC 2616 states (section 14.45) that proxies MUST insert a "Via:" header to indicate the origin of the request to the destination HTTP server. If the ISPs were doing this, then Wikipedia would detect it and there would not be the problem of all then users seeming to come from the same IP address.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Between users and their ISPs

    This seems to me to boil down strictly to an issue between certain ISPs and their users. If those ISPs decided to impose censorship (something, remember, for which we are always eager to condemn the Chinese and others) then their users have a remedy - walk. As long as there are ISPs that don't censor, we have a choice.

    Wikipedia is right not to take any action. It's not their concern.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely kiddie porn is kiddie porn

    no matter who publishes it?

  15. Ian Ferguson

    What about

    Nirvana's Nevermind?

  16. Michael Fremlins

    Is this a child abuse image?

    I haven't seen the image (nor am I going to deliberately look for it). But the list compiled by the IWF is called the Child Abuse Image list. If the image is merely a naked child then in what way is that abuse?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Orange also appear to be censoring

    I get "Object not found" from the link.

    Just who the fuck are the Internet Watch Foundation anyway? I'm perfectly capable of deciding for myself what I want to look at or not.

    "Naked child" <> "kiddie porn". If it is, all Pampers adverts will need to be banned too.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia is hidden commercial

    It is just about posting links to your own site then claiming everyone else's is spam :)

    Now they are begging for money.

    echo "" >> /etc/hosts

    problem solved.

  19. Ian

    Visible on BT Connection

    The original album cover is visible in the wikipedia page from my BT connection this morning. Which is odd.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Censored on Virgin Media

    However, like all filtering it's trivial to get round.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Stange it is like DPI

    This is very strange. It make think of DPI is taking place like Phorm.

    If you on Virgin Media send you browser to


    There is you public IP and not some magical proxed IP. In fact this also work at other IP reporting sites, they will show you public IP.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Demon not censored

    I'm on Demon here too, and just out of interest, clicked your link.

    The page appeared in its entirety.

    The only thing I was offended by when the page loaded, was the fact that certain ISPs would go to the trouble of censoring it.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Demon not censored (yes it is)

    Ah, actually it IS censored on Demon.

    The Wiki page appears fine, but clicking on the album cover thumbnail presents

    "Access Denied (403)

    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.

    What To Do

    If you were directed to this site by an email or another site, then you should consider reporting the email or site to the Internet Watch Foundation. Visit their web site ( for details about how to do this.

    This blocking service is provided solely for the protection of our customers. We have not recorded that you attempted to visit this site, nor will we be taking any further action. You can find more information about the IWF list of URLs to block here:

    Demon is a brand of THUS plc "

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    still blocked at Eclipse

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

  25. Greg

    For fuck's sake!

    Are they going to ban the cover of Nevermind then?

  26. Alex Tingle

    Let's boycott them...

    "I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if 1,000 other people in the UK will do the same"

    Tell your friends!

  27. Jacqui

    NTHell 'accellerator'

    NTHell has almost always ran a reverse proxy cache to try and cut down on bandwidth but they never mentioned that this was filtered.

    Also I do not see what the problem is with wiki edits - I have never bothered to try and edit anything but I would hope that edits are via https which is not RP'd therefore sees my current dynamic IP - which I can keep or renew by changing the lease data in the dhcp-client cache ;:-)

    Finally cachig reverse proxies are pretty common. Wiki designers should expect and allow for them.


    p.s. I have noticed that various statsiN freeads servers have recently gone off line fron NTHell but the image links work if you switch to a different 'N'. Another case if IWF madness?

    If so what to the IWF have against trailers and lifejackets?

  28. Les


    As the album cover can be seen on other sites, arbitrarily blocking Wikipedia makes remarkably little sense.

    Having seen it on the "Museum of bad album covers"[1], I'd describe it as in poor taste, but not actually pornographic...

    [1] Link not provided to avoid anyone thinking the Reg is a pr0n site[2], but it's the first hit if you use a well-known search engine on that phrase

    [2] As the loonies have not only taken over the asylum but sold it off to the lowest bidder and generally trashed it, anything seems possible....

  29. Simon Greenwood
    Thumb Down

    Not so much to do with Wikipedia

    As to do with the flat out fact that my ISP is choosing what I can see on the Internet. I don't recall agreeing to that in the terms and conditions that I was presented with when I signed up. That it is Wikipedia and that the page is being blocked in such a clumsy way is significant in that this would appear to be the first time that such a case has been noticed. I don't particularily care about the article in question, just that the page has been blocked by my ISP without my permission because a picture on it, which, as dubious as it is (I mean really, who thought that that would be an acceptable thing to put on an album sleeve even in 1976), is correct to show in the context of the article as it's the cover of the record under description.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    what to do if you have the album?

    Presumably possession of said album cover is now potentially an offence....

    Better check your LP collection. That Wytchfinder General (?) cover with satanic sexual violence might be misconstrued. And don't forget the bookcase! Any books by Nabokov there?

  31. Rementoire

    Yes, some common sense

    I think all sides here need to keep some perspective.

    Wikipedia is not hosting CP; if that image is considered CP, then so is the Pulitzer Prize-winning image of Kim Phuc Phan Thi. Secondly, the image is "available" (in a higher resolution) at the Amazon page for the album, and has been for years. Can you see the IWF adding Amazon to the blacklist? it wouldn't have hurt for the IWF to have contacted the WMF if they had concerns.

    But Wikipedians who are crying foul over this also need to calm down just a tad. The IWF is not a right wing or conservative organisation; it is paid to respond to perfectly valid complaints, even if the IWF acted in a heavy-handed manner on this occasion.

    Wikipedia administrators, no matter how well meaning, are not going to be the ones to solve this problem. Someone from the WMF needs to contact the IWF to thrash out a way forward.

  32. Julian Bond
    Thumb Down

    O RLY?

    "Because the six ISPs are routing Wikipedia traffic through transparent proxies, huge numbers of would-be Wikipedia editors appear to be coming from the same IP range."

    If this is true, then either the proxies are not following http or the wikipedia is making an elementary mistake in parsing the http headers. HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR or HTTP_CLIENT_IP are almost always included by proxies, transparent or otherwise.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    If the image is the issue, block the image.

    The wiki page actually details the story behind the image, and how in hindsight they regretted using it. Which is more important than the image itself.

    This is disappointing, knee-jerk reaction censorship.

  34. Mark Fraser

    Orange too?

    I'm getting 'Object not found' here with Orange broadband.

  35. pAnoNymous

    what do you expect?

    So far the IWF seem to be doing their job with reasonable discretion and I'm not going to question their judgement. I'm also not stupid enough to access the page above as lets face it chances are it's illegal in this country (UK) and I certainly can't afford the lawyers/time to argue otherwise. I'm also glad that they were wise enough to only block the offending page and not the whole site. As for Wiki, although people can no longer make anonymous edits if they use the above ISPs they can still register and make edits as known users - which has its merits.

    It is a bit worrying however that ISPs can selectively reroute our traffic into a proxy and block access to specific sites/urls without any warning/notice. When the governments say they want to monitor which sites we visit I can see this can also mean any specific content we access within the site. Privacy and the net really are an illusion that's never been less real.

  36. Steve

    Quick Workaroud

    Go here and paste for thoese of who whos isp have still blocked you

  37. Don Foister
    Black Helicopters


    Makes a mockery of Virgin medias attempt to save us all from ourselves when a quick google images request brings up many clear versions of the said banned cover.

    This kind of nannying by the overzealous morality overlords that now are flexing their muscles here in the UK as regards Internet content is somewhat pernicious. It can only lead to further net censorship & just panders to the Daily Mail reader mindset.

    As Rick (Silent P) once said: "Lets raise a peoples Army & seize control of the state"...

  38. Andrew Moore


    My money was on Blind Faith...

  39. Anonymous Coward


    Yes it's a stupid CD cover but also - it's just a stupid CD cover!

    It's nothing that you can't see on most beaches, if you're so inclined.

    That these UK ISPs have set themselves up as our moral arbiters may just encourage people with curiosity to *gasp* check Google cache, Google image search or even some of the shadier areas of teh internets.

    Let's see if the war on nudity goes as well as the war on drugs and the war on terror.

  40. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Down

    So what's next?

    Mark a lot of art as porn? This zero-tolerance sh*t that is slowly coming over from the US of A is getting on my nerves....

  41. Adrian Challinor
    Paris Hilton

    "Wikipedia doesn't censor."

    Ha Ha Ha Ha

    Now let me wipe my coffee off the screen. Does anyone here remember naked short selling? Oh, I think we can all agree that WikiMasters do edit when its in their own best interest.

    Now, on the album cover, as it was rereleased with a different cover, is it such a gross editorial restriction for Wiki to use that one?

    Anyway, all this will do is get everyone googleing for "Virgin Killer Scorpions" to see what the fuss is about. Oh and by the way, despite their being German, look for an acronym related to the new wave of british heavy music.

    Paris - well, because she knows from experience that you can't police the intertubes

  42. Chris Cox


    I'm with Demon, the link in the story works fine, so if it's being filtered, they're not doing a very good job!

    However, whilst I agree that there should be very strict laws to provents any form of abuse, nudity in itself isnt a crime, and this reminds me of stories like the newsreader who got arrested for taking pictures of her daughter in the bath etc. A sense of perspective is required, and effort should be put into abuse, not censoring 30 year old album covers

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blue Nosed Responce (as usual)

    I may be incorrect, but I believe the picture involved is part of a series by a famous photographer who specialised in pubescent and pre-pubescent girls, and who's collections are available in book form via the British Library!!

    Certainly images showing the genitals (this photo doesn't), are included in several photo collections by this photographer, and all of them are kept by our wonderful Library system.

    How do I know this?? It was the defence given in a child pornography case a few years ago, why were these images illegal to have on your PC when they were available at the local Library (on request), or to anyone who walked into a major city reference library??

    As far as I can tell, the defence of this stupid situation was "because", the fall back answer of any 4-10 y/o!!!

    Apparently, if it is wrapped in expensive bindings, on vellum paper and comes complete with descriptions and a philosophy it is "ART"

  44. Leo Davidson

    Wikipedia *is* censored

    When discussing whether or not the image should be removed, I think it is silly that Wikipedia admins immediately end the discussion with the mantra "Wikipedia isn't censored."

    Wikipedia *is* censored. How can they claim it is not? They will remove content which is illegal in Florida, USA. If that isn't censorship then what is?

    I am not saying that the album cover should be removed -- FWIW I don't think it should be -- but that the argument should be about what to censor and why, not whether or not things are censored at all (when they clearly already are if they are illegal in Florida).

    Their reasons for censoring content illegal in Florida are clear: Getting the servers taken offline (or forcing them to move countries) would be very damaging to the project. Fair enough. But banning anon edits for half the UK is also damaging, so perhaps the discussion should be about how damaging something should be before it is censored. Or just say "we only care about Florida and don't care about the rest of the world" which would be fine. That's still censorship, though.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    IWF Distribute Child Porn

    According to Wikimedia's bug #16569, IWF is failing to filter other methods of accessing the page. Makes me wonder whether the IWF can initiate a prosecution against themselves for permitting distribution of the image they're failing at banning.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Aaron Gilliland

    Wikipedia doesn't censor?

    Go on. Pull the other one.

  48. Paul Talbot

    re: Surely some common sense?

    Yeah, I agree with Jonas. Context has to be taken into account, else every parent in the country is guilty of child pornography for having that silly picture of their toddler taking a bath.

    The naked body is not inherently sexual. If this album cover was fine to be displayed in record stores in the 70s, then it's fine to be displayed on Wikipedia today. Are people banning HMV next, because they have Nirvana's Nevermind album cover, with prepubescent todger on display? Of course not, because it's not a sexual image.

    I would take issue with Wikipedia if there were actually child porn there. This picture is not sexual in context, and therefore not pornography. So, no wrongdoing, only another warning that there are those in the UK who still think that we're too stupid to make judgements for ourselves and would rather censor any kind of free speech than actually go after the guilty.

  49. Kanhef

    @Christoher Martin

    Actually, 404 is appropriate here. 410 (gone) is only to be used when a resource is permanently unavailable, which is unlikely in this case. While 403 is more accurate technically, it should state why the request was refused; if the server doesn't want to disclose it, a 404 can be used instead. (see RFC 2616)

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Like all censors, consistently inconsistent.

    If the IWF want to be consistent then they should also block access to the Wikipedia article on Blind Faith's album Blind Faith. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle nearly 40 years ago when it was released but I don't recall some self-appointed moral guardians standing in front of the racks in record shops so that spotty long-haired youths like myself would instead spend our pocket money on Cliff Richard's latest magnum opus.


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