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IWF Backs Down From Wikipedia Image Ban

IWF Backs Down From Wikipedia Image Ban

Yesterday it was banned, today it’s not. UK watchdog, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has backed away from its ban of the cover of the Scorpions’ 1976 album, Virgin Killer, on Wikipedia.

After the IWF had labeled it as “potential illegal child sexual abuse” a number of British ISPs had blocked the image. Very quickly, however, the IWF has been forced to do a U-turn, admitting that since the image is 32 years old and widely available online, there was no point in proscribing the image on the online encyclopedia.

In a statement on its site, the IWF said:

“Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure and has given careful consideration to the issues involved in this case. The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978. However, the IWF Board has today (9 December 2008) considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, 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.”

“Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted abroad, will not be added to the list. Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted in the UK will be assessed in line with IWF procedures.”

“IWF’s overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect. We regret the unintended consequences for Wikipedia and its users. Wikipedia have been informed of the outcome of this procedure and IWF Board’s subsequent decision.”

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