Several British Internet service providers have blocked users from accessing a Wikipedia page about a German hard rock band, after a watchdog warned that a photo of a naked girl on it could be illegal.
The online encyclopedia has slammed the clampdown on the page for the group The Scorpions, which it says leaves most British residents unable to edit entries and affected the website’s performance.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a British watchdog which monitors potentially illegal content, the Wikipedia Scorpions entry was added to its blacklist of websites because of what was “considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18."
The photograph in question was an album cover of the German heavy metal band’s 1976 album “Virgin Killer".
The IWF said it had passed the information to a partner watchdog overseas, without specifying which one, as well as a law enforcement partner, before “the specific (webpage) was added to the list provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to protect their customers."
According to the IWF, its list is used on a voluntary basis by 95% of British-based residential ISPs.
The Wikimedia Foundation, of which Wikipedia is a part, criticised the decision, saying that the IWF had not only blocked the specific image, but the entire article as well.
It stressed it did not believe the article or the image were illegal anywhere in the world, adding that the IWF move was blocking users with British ISPs involved from editing any Wikipedia pages.
“The IWF didn’t just block the image; it blocked access to the article itself, which discusses the image in a neutral, encyclopedic fashion,” said Wikimedia Foundation head Sue Gardner in a statement from San Francisco.
“The IWF says its goal is to protect UK citizens, but I can’t see how this action helps to achieve that, and meanwhile, it deprives UK internet users of the ability to access information which should be freely available to everyone.
“I urge the IWF to remove Wikipedia from its blacklist,” she added.