On Wikipedia filtering

Now the row has died down, a few thoughts regarding the filtering of the album cover from Wikipedia.

A few thoughts on the now defunct UK Wikipedia censorship row:

  1. It’s good that it’s brought the IWFs presence into the open. It wasn’t really hidden, but many people didn’t really know it existed. Though in reality 95% of the people still don’t know or care.
  2. How come not all ISPs implementing the IWF list were affected? Was there some examination of the list (which from heresay I thought was verboten), or do the other ISPs just have a more rigid deployment/change control procedures for updates?
  3. Kudos to Thus/Demon for providing a descriptive error message (to paraphrase “the IWF told us to block this”), instead of a blank 404 which some other providers presented.
  4. Because of the implementation of the filtering, some ISPs presented all requests to Wikipedia from their outbound proxy IPs. Wikipedians then removed of anonymous editing from these IPs due to the possibility of abuse.

Ultimately, removal of anonymous editing of Wikipedia is not a huge deal. Most users can register, although there are reasons why some people may require/desire to make anonymous edits.

Regardless of the degree of the impact however, it’s now clear that some implementations of filtering can impact the normal operation of some bits of the internet. Deep Packet Inspection could possibly preserve the outbound IP, but at a far higher cost and latency impact than the “selective” transproxying that many ISPs have implemented.

Something for the Australian government/populous to consider.

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