Talk:Internet Watch Foundation

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The lower part of the 'website' section appears to be written by some one from the organisation - I've added the 'advert' tag as it seemed the most apropriate. 08:53, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Why is evlekis continually adding the `website` section which contains many weasel words and as has been mentioned before is a blantant advert ? (talk) 11:27, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Precisely because Evlekis spotted you blanking large sections of text which appeared to be unconstructive. I do apologise if I have been unfair in doing so; I would recommend that to avoid such edit-wars, you make a small note in the edit summary just before saving the page. To do that, you'll need an account if you don't already have one. But as things were, it just looked like another anon playing games on the article. Apologies. Evlekis (talk) 11:32, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Their website[edit]

Their own web site [1] says that their mission statement is "To work in partnership with internet service providers, telecommunication companies, mobile operators, software providers, the police, Government and the public to minimise the availability of online illegal content, particularly child abuse images.". We currently make them look broader than they are. Secretlondon 03:52, 31 March 2007 (UTC) Aim [2] Our aim is to minimise the availability of potentially illegal internet content, specifically:

  • child abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene content hosted in the UK
  • incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK

Role [3]

  • Operating a 'notice and take-down' service to alert hosting service providers of criminal content found on their servers.
  • Recommending that internet service providers should not carry certain newsgroups in accordance with policy guidelines adopted by the IWF Board.
  • Acting as a relevant authority in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Section 46 Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre deal with IM, chatroom etc.[4] Secretlondon 03:58, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

  • "Please note that the terms "child pornography" or "child porn" can act to legitimise images which are not pornography. Rather, they are permanent records of children being sexually abused and as such should be referred to as child sexual abuse images."
What a lovely example of a neutral point of view :-) lmno 03:37, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
The whole entry needs a NPOV transfusion. It reads like a corporate statement by the Internet Watch Foundation. Loose terms like "illegal content" are meaningless in an international context. IWF blocks content that it considers to be illegal or potentually illegal under UK laws. Meowy 02:22, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Reminds me of the Great Firewall of China. 22:24, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Me too. What if they censor anything the gov't doesn't want the people to know? Deathkenli 07:46, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Editing by User:Internet Watch Foundation[edit]

Yesterday, a user named "Internet Watch Foundation" made an edit to this page. A request for them to confirm their identity and explain their edits has been placed on their talk page. In the meanwhile, their edits have been reverted to avoid conflicts of interest. —Preceding unsigned comment added by CheshireKatz (talkcontribs) 20:08, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


As a result, less than 1% of potentially illegal content has apparently been hosted in the UK since 2003, down from 18% in 1997.

  1. Meaningless numbers: 1% of illegal content: of illegal content hosted worldwide? Of illegal content accessed from the UK? Of illegal content investigated by IWF?
  2. No source.

David.Monniaux (talk) 21:49, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

The source is the IWF I think. I can try and find a quote but it does seem pretty meaningless regardless. Secretlondon (talk) 22:12, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Heres a ref for the 1% number from the BBC Basically only 1% of the worlds child porn is hosted on british computers. (Hypnosadist) 01:24, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I suspect it will actually be 1% of the material they investigate, rather than 1% of the world's child porn. lmno (talk) 18:28, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

We should not cite numbers that have no definition — these are marketing-speak, not encyclopedic. David.Monniaux (talk) 06:13, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


Should there be a mention of the IWF being funded by netsense? Klosterdev (talk) 21:56, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Got a source? If so put it in. (Hypnosadist) 01:25, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Award for Chief Executive, Peter Robbins OBE, QPM,[edit]

This from their website he got the ISPA Internet Hero award.


If, as a casual reader, I read the introduction of this article, then I'm not really informed as to the activities of this organization. For instance, I hear that it maintains a blacklist of sites to be censored; yet this is not mentioned.

Later on in the article, we don't have much of a discussion of this blacklist and the criteria applied for sites to be in or out of it. David.Monniaux (talk) 08:38, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

About the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

Please note that "child pornography", "child porn" and "kiddie porn" are not acceptable terms. The use of such language acts to legitimise images which are not pornography, rather, they are permanent records of children being sexually abused and as such should be referred to as child sexual abuse images. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ticram (talkcontribs) 21:43, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

The above paragraph is a verbatim citation of the page that is linked. I am unsure what is meant by this. In any case, "child porn" and "kiddie porn" are too casual to be appropriate in an encyclopedia article; as to "child sexual abuse image", this is obviously a politically motivated term, and we are kindly provided with the link confirming that it has been coined and is supported by an organisation which makes an industry of the denouncing of child pornography. I would therefore find it utterly unacceptable for Wikipedia to adopt such a term, and I find attempts to promote it orwellian in nature. Rama (talk) 12:38, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The IWF is a charitable organisation funded by the EU so it incorrect to claim it makes an industry of denouncing child pornography. Thanks, SqueakBox 23:07, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


I'm not sure that getting blocked is relevant to this article. That has to do with the way ISPs are filtering, and the way we responded. The IWF just makes the list, and can't be blamed for the way it's enforced (at least, that's the way I understand it.) Thoughts?--Werdan7T @ 03:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

yeah I guess their just "under orders" right? What should be done is thier ip adress should be blocked from wikipedia —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:52, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Well, they can be blamed for blocking one of the top 10 web sites in such a careless way. Instead of (just) blocking the image, they blocked the article in which it appears. And they didn't even do it right, as there are numerous workarounds for accessing the image. And due to the large publicity a lot of people, including in the UK, do. Which is not a big problem since this was a borderline case in the first place. Their "one size fits all" approach of never contacting any websites obviously backfired.
Actually, in a reply to my email the Chief Executive said it "wouldn't be fair" for me to assume they "haven't been in contact with a Wiki representative". This might refer to the statement they made on Sunday and which I didn't know about when writing them. If it refers to anything they did last week, then it appears they approached the wrong people. --Hans Adler (talk) 10:43, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Keep it on topic, guys. This isn't a forum to discuss what has happened; it's a discussion page for the article itself. Thanks, PeterSymonds (talk) 17:42, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The block undoubtedly resulted directly from the IWF's actions; nevertheless, they had no way of knowing (presumably) that the implementation of the blacklist by ISPs is such that all traffic to the parent sites of blacklisted pages would be routed through such a narrow IP field. Given that the routing issues aren't their fault, I've shortened the bit about the block, citing it as a "side-effect" of the blacklisting, without going into technical detail.
I've also removed several edits from this talk page per WP:TALK (Some examples of appropriately editing others' comments: [...] Deleting material not relevant to improving the article) and added a source comment to the bottom of the page, to discourage people from using this as a POV forum. Might want to keep an eye on this page, methinks. haz (talk) 17:47, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your edit. Insults against the IWF and its members (like comparisons with certain ideological groups!) shouldn't be part of the discussion page. Please watch out for these. And yes: This statement is relevant because such insults happened an will sadly happen again. (talk) 18:10, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

I think we can stop worrying about potentially blaming the IWF for something that is not really their fault:

It was a specific URL that was added to the list that had that image one it. That URL also happened to have text on it, but that’s irrelevant – we’re assessing the image. [5]

If this was indeed Sarah Robertson's literal response, then there is something very wrong with their process. It sounds as if she had never seen the source code of an HTML page. --Hans Adler (talk) 11:54, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

She keeps referring to the image as a "child sex abuse" image too, which I feel cheapens real child sex abuse. The quote by Hans shows that either their is a huge problem with the way they work, or she is simply a spokeswoman with no technical expertise and was inadequately briefed - although this would suggest other problems with their processes. A full discussion of their politicisation of language, methods and response to requests for clarification and criticism should be added to the article, along with technical details of the block/blacklisting. Hopefully there will be very many sources for this appearing this week. Hopefully this debatable will open up their process, shine more light on them, make them accountable, and we can cover this process as and when it happens. Verbal chat 12:23, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Apparently they use the term intentionally instead of "child pornography", which they do not consider acceptable because "such language acts to legitimise images which are not pornography, rather, they are permanent records of children being sexually abused and as such should be referred to as child sexual abuse images." [6]. I would be able to follow them if the sentence stopped at "not pornography" – it may be hard to prove "the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer" (see pornography). While shifting the point of view from the market for such pictures to their production does make some sense, I am not sure they have thought it through very well. The problem is not just the children abused in the production, it's also that such pictures break a taboo that exists for very good reasons. Otherwise there would be no problem with comics etc. And both terms share the problem that their literal meaning is more restrictive than what they actually censor, the image in question being neither pornographic (just in extremely bad taste) nor (apparently) the result of what would have been abuse in the 70s. --Hans Adler (talk) 12:54, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I find this Orwellian use of language very interesting. Have any news outlets picked up on this yet and discussed it? I hope so, so that it can be discussed here. Verbal chat 13:45, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
After thinking about this a bit more, I became aware of another factor. Pornography is very much taboo in public discourse, but very much accepted in society so long as it's hidden. The term "child pornography" is dangerous insofar as it suggests a similar phenomenon. I wouldn't be surprised if some criminals would use this as justification – that the taboo nature of child pornography is supposedly only a façade. I am beginning to see the merits of the term "child abuse pictures". --Hans Adler (talk) 20:05, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm not convinced, for the reasons given - however child pornography as a term can be equally misused. I should think any criminals trying such a defence with actual child abuse images would be recommended to find a new barrister by the judge, and to plead guilty! The use of blanket terms is probably wrong, but the use of terms in order to change how things are perceived by a body such as the IWF which acts as a censor seems inappropriate. The IWF should stay out of that aspect, and just use terms like "a proscribed or possible illegal image", perhaps. However, that's probably not going to happen - if the IWF survives. I guess this is off topic though, but interesting. It's not something I'll be writing to my MP about anyway. Verbal chat 20:17, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
I was talking about how criminals justify their acts for themselves, to preserve some self-esteem, not what they say in court (where such arguments are obviously doomed). If this kind of self-justification can be broken by changing the terminology, it can prevent some crimes from ever happening in the first place. But you are right, it's getting too off-topic. I think it's clear by now that the article shouldn't make a big issue out of IWF's terminology prescription. --Hans Adler (talk) 14:10, 11 December 2008 (UTC)


Fair-use suggests and may require that we replace the image in the infobox with something else, such as the organization's logo. Comments? davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 00:43, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that would be a much better idea. Most companies are recognisable by their logos, and a logo is a better representation of the organisation than a webpage screenshot. PeterSymonds (talk) 13:51, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
The issue was that {{Infobox Website}} was being used, which treated the IWF as a website rather than as an entity. I've changed it to use {{Infobox Non-profit}} instead, and moved the logo from a random floating spot to the infobox. haz (talk) 19:13, 9 December 2008 (UTC)


{{editprotected}} The article says that a staff of 7 people is responsible for compiling and maintaining the blacklist. however talks of four people going through the list. The 3 may be management, but the Guardian number is more recent than the one in the cited source (which I can't find). --Ticram (talk) 19:28, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

That template is really only necessary on full protected pages. I can't speak to the necessity of the edit mentioned above but I trust an established user familiar with the topic that frequents this page will be able to make that decision. l'aquatique || talk 08:39, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes check.svgY Done. The Guardian's figure seems to be backed up by this orgchart. It states that there are 15 employees working for the IWF; factor out the board members at the top, do a bit of mental arithmetic, and it works out that four must be working in the hotline team. I've made the change to the page, using the Guardian article as the source. (By the way, {{editsemiprotected}} can be used to request changes to semi-protected pages.) haz (talk) 09:13, 10 December 2008 (UTC) is now down.[edit]

Ok, just for wiki's information... Their site is now down. LOW ORBIT ION CANNONS HAVE DONE THEIR JOB. Consider incorporating this in the article. Dendre (talk) 18:09, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Not yet. Sites go down all the time for short periods and it's not encyclopedic. Unless this is determined to be something out of the ordinary it's not encyclopedic. Now, if they are down because of an attack, court order, or something else unusual related to their recent decisions, then that may be encyclopedic, but at this point we don't know. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 18:12, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, they are down because of an attack, originating in 4chan. Note: at your own risk, possibly not worksafe, will go 404 in a while : --Dendre (talk) 18:32, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Sorry to disappoint, but the site is not down for me. Plenty of technical issues could be causing problems for individual users, though.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 18:35, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
This is probably not a noteworthy inclusion. Wikipedia gets attacked by Grawp all the time, but it's not listed in the article. Unless the site is crippled by the attacks, and there is a formal announcement, please do not add it. Thanks, PeterSymonds (talk) 18:36, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
It is not down now. We would need a reliable source about the outage that demonstrates its notability before even thinking of adding it to the IWF article. I imagine with increased traffic themselves this week they may be suffering server issues but that wouldn't be notable for here. Thanks, SqueakBox 18:39, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
So, hopefully someone will reportedly announce their attack. Delete this thread at your will. --Dendre (talk) 18:42, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

ISPs that subscibe to IWF filtering[edit]

a list would be useful, seeing as this is a voluntary scheme--Mongreilf (talk) 17:35, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

There is a kind of list, compiled while the wikipedia block was in force, in the "Administrators' note" linked at the top of this page Martinwguy (talk) 05:59, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Demon UK ISP blocking Wayback Machine via IWF's blacklist[edit]

Ars Technica story on one IWF-using ISP blocking the Wayback Machine We might want to mention this in the article. (talk) 19:51, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Worth mentioning that they LIE about the content they block?[edit]

This quango continually makes the claim, on its website and in response to accusations of excessive censorship, that they only block "images of child sexual abuse". This claim is a blatant lie; Wikipedia itself called them out on this back in december when they gave the administators hell by blocking an image which did not in any way depict child sexual abuse, as well as the surrounding text. Yet despite what should have been a crushing and public humiliation for them, they continue to stand by their lies, openly admitting that they removed the Wikipedia block because it was causing them too much negative attention, not because the picture went against their own blocking policy (despite proof of the contrary).

As far as I'm concerned they have zero credibility right now, and if I was running an ISP I would have terminated my contract with them after that incident. It shows at the very least that their blacklist contains a huge number of false positives, that their control and review process is poor or nonexistant, or at worst that they are knowingly and deliberately decieving people about the kind of files they are blacklisting (their handling of the wikipedia incident sadly suggests to me that it's the latter).

The reason I'm posting this here is because I know that if I add this to the article someone's going to take issue to it and revert it, so I was hoping to get the support of a few others here before attempting anything. - —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:23, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Your opinion of the IWF is probably shared by many... However, since the IWF blacklist is not public, it is impossible to verify your assertion. The IWF states: "It is an offence to take, permit to be taken, make, possess, show, distribute or advertise indecent images of children in the United Kingdom. As a guide, the word 'indecent' means any images of children, under 18 years of age, involved in a sexual pose or activity." There is no reliable evidence to suggest that they operate outside this remit – the Virgin Killer pic, love it or loathe it, could still fall under those criteria. haz (talk) 08:43, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps not first-hand, but we have no shortage of reliable sources. Take their role and remit for example, which states clearly that the only issue they deal with internationally is images that depict "child sexual abuse". They're very specific about that, and later go on to state that they are talking about "permanent records of children being sexually abused". At the same time we have the picture itself hosted here on Wikipedia, which as I'm sure nobody would deny does not depict sexual abuse, and apparently a source where the girl on the cover confirms herself that she had and has no issue with it whatsoever, thus proving that in no way is this a "permanent record of children being sexually abused". These three things combined constitute verifiable proof that the IWF lied (probably knowingly and deliberately) about the kind of files which appear on their blacklist.
The IWF lists a number of laws, including those against racial hatred, but still emphasizes that the only thing they take action against when hosted outside of the UK is images depicting child sexual abuse. This is clearly a false claim, which is why I felt this should be addressed. I'd say that's definitely of relevance to many people reading the article, especially any prospective members who are thinking of joining this organization under a misguided and false belief about what they actually do. (talk) 12:15, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Inferences based on those observations do not constitute a reliable source. Yes, the IWF made a pretty epic blunder by igniting the censorship row over Virgin Killer. However, making unsourced assertions that they are a shadowy cabal of self-regulating Kafka-esque bureaucrats who don't follow their own stated policies is probably not suitable for the article. If the image were indeed a breach of the Protection of Children Act, or would have been if it were hosted in the UK (like their statement claimed), then it is within their remit to block the page. Or completely bungle the blacklisting and spark an international row over censorship, either way... Face-wink.svg haz (talk) 12:39, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

"Fake charity"[edit]

This was removed due to WP:NPOV concerns:

The IWF has been criticized for claiming tax-free chairty statues. When other censorship groups in the UK are not considered charities. They have significant commercial income – turning over several million pounds a year - and therefore they are constituted as a Limited Company, rather than a charity. They have also been listed on as a fake charity do to the hundreds of thousands ofpounds they recieve from the EU.

Nobody is denying that the IWF receives money from the EU, but the "fake charity" tag could be seen as a violation of WP:MORALIZE. The IWF is a curious organization , and has been described as a quango, although it does not strictly fit the bill for this either.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 19:12, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

I found the listing enlightening, though the associated synthesis is not useful. I've added it to the external links section so as to allow others do see it without drawing judgement. Cnsrsht (talk) 20:24, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

A general point[edit]

Much of the discussion below relates to A Wikipedia problem. What is wrong with REPORTING negative views about a person/organisation. To report views (if verified) is not musing it is (perhaps wrongly) what is thought. Too many times Wikipedia "editors" remove views which are widely held - I think these should be included. Not to do so results in the non-academic approach - academics look at both sides, take the views of other academics/writers/people into account. They do not shy away from reporting the negative. Too many times on WIkipedia we get the "Hitler was quite nice" approach because we do not want to offend. It is not balanced to ignore the negative. The IWF is a sinister organisation (which is my view) but I could find a whole load of people who say so (academics/journalists etc.) I wouldn't edit the main page to that effect because I know it would be removed not by IWF supporters but by the Wiki pedants. I see someone had mentioned that the IWF is a self-appointed (true), unregulated (true) organisation - this was removed shortly afterwards. Why? To include the negative is NOT unbalanced, it's balance.

Wikipedia articles must have neutral point of view. Personal views about the validity of the IWF would be non-encyclopedic content. There is a substantial section looking at criticism of the IWF, which is reliably sourced.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:10, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

My point was this - being neutral is not ignoring the negative - I was making just a general Wikipedia point. Saying nice things about people/things which all the world (academic and scientific, legal or journalistic) think are flawed is not neutrality - it's false political correctness. Do you think a true encylopedia would expunge crictism of Hitler, Stalin et al - just to appear neutral? I think not. This aticle in fact is not that bad, but others on Wikipedia take NPOV to mean we must expunge known and verified cricticism. "We must be nice even to those who are evil/flawed" That's not what academia or Encyclopedias are all about. They must reflect what is thought - certainly when it is overwhelmingly negative to the subject. As I say above let's have, therefore, Hitler was on the other hand a very nice man type of entry. That's just stupid and academically wrong. I despair of Wikuipedia - sexless, banality, NPOV political correctness gone mad. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:56, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

MegaUpload and other file hosting sites[edit]

As of today I have been receiving this error on Megaupload: "Your IP address has just downloaded 345435 bytes. Please wait 7 minutes, then try your download again." Sent an email off to as wikipedia says its their policy not to block whole websites, but they have done with MegaUpload. If it continues, its gearing up to be another "Incident" to be listed. -- (talk) 18:35, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

This seems to be beyond the scope of the article. It may be that if you are using the free service, there are limits to how much data can be uploaded or downloaded in a certain amount of time. This is common with file sending sites, and is not censorship.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 18:42, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
What really confuses me here is that Megaupload has a clear policy of immediatedly removing any content that violates its terms of service. I know for certain that copyrighted material lasts no more than a couple of hours after being reported, and I'm sure anything worse would be gone just as quick; it would simply not be up long enough for the IWF to verify and list it. This leave three possibilities:
1) The material they're blocking is not at all illegal and instead being blocked for a very different reason.
2) The IWF is blindly adding links to its blacklist without verifying them.
3) The IWF actually have nothing to do with this at all and ISPs are using it as an unorthodox way of limiting downloads.

In any case, something seems fishy here. - (talk) 16:02, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

The article lists Megaupload as one of the sites alleged to have contained child pornography (see Richard Clayton's report here). It would be original research to speculate on why some downloads did not work, but from personal experience I know that some file hosting sites are not as "free" as they claim, and will block uploading or downloading more than a certain amount of data as a means of getting you to sign up for the premium service. The problem as shown by the Virgin Killer affair is that the IWF does not indicate clearly when it is blocking a page, although the fake 404 errors given to Wikipedians during the Virgin Killer affair were a sign that something was amiss. If a Megaupload file is not downloading properly, it is unlikely that the cause is an IWF block, since there could be plenty of other technical problems involved.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 17:02, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
The key word is "alleged". Megaupload has always been one of the fastest deleting file hosts, so I can't imagine any way that something so illegal could remain on there long enough to end up on a blacklist. By the way, the bypass for this is to connect on port 800 instead of 80. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:36, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Richard Clayton's list is based on a "mole" inside the IWF. It also alleges that RapidShare and other well known file hosting sites have carried child pornography. Since millions of files are uploaded to sites like this without any checking beforehand, there may well have been some child pornography uploaded by some users. But as you say, material like this is likely to be removed by the file hosts themselves, as their Terms of Service make clear that any material of this type will be removed on sight.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 15:02, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

The problem reported here is almost certainly not due to IWF blocking, but is a side-effect due to ISPs using proxy servers to implement IWF filtering. I have added a detailed explanation, but at the moment am having some conflicts with another editor; if the article does not contain suitable content, look at this revision. Information on use of proxy servers by ISP is here. More useful information at here. A sample file that gives trouble if any user of the ISP has recently used the file sharing system is The first file of Scientific Linux (1 of 11; of use for testing download only). Pol098 (talk) 08:46, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

This is interesting but clearly WP:OR. The IWF has persistently refused to discuss if and when it uses proxies, so the truth of this is likely to remain a mystery. It may be that access to some file hosting sites is proxied in the UK, as they are well known sources of child porn. The trouble with proxying, as Wikipedia found during the Virgin Killer affair, is that innocent people can have their Internet access screwed up as well. Although this is a worthwhile issue, it would need more mainstream sourcing to be mentioned in the article.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 08:58, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
You need to read the source material carefully; I also suggest you read what i write carefully before deleting. What the IWF says is irrelevant; it's not their proxies, but those used by ISPs. This is not a mystery, and is documented in good sources, added remainder of sentence later: and ISPs' technical support, if competent and honest, will tell you - see my next contribution to this section. In fact, knowing that ISPs use transparent proxies, and knowing that sites often behave according to users' IP addresses (e.g., blocking excessive activity), makes it obvious to anyone, not just experts, that there will be trouble. There is much useful information in forums and user groups; they are at the sharp edge; but other publications have picked it up. Transparent proxies are the way ISPs implement IWF filtering; they could do it other ways which would not cause trouble. The sites are proxied by the ISPs because they're on a list; as I understand it a site such as a file-sharing site is on the IWF list as it may host child porn; but the site itself is not banned. Specific pages are banned. For example, in the Wikipedia case as I understand it a particular image was banned; this caused Wikipedia to be added to the IWF list. This didn't in itself block all of Wikipedia, it just meant that all access went thorough ISPs' proxy servers. The reason anonymous edits were prevented was because Wikipedia, not the IWF, blocked apparent multiple edits from "one user" - each of the proxies. Similarly, file-sharing sites probably have some clearly illegal content (I have no personal experience), but also legitimate matter such as Linux distributions. Some of the more general sources, such as the BBC, while acceptable as Wikipedia references, don't understand the issue; user forums and blogs, while full of all sorts of nonsense, also have very useful contributions. Some respectable technical news media have understood and published the details; I've added them, so sourcing is coming up to scratch - the new sources, as far as they go, just confirm what's said on the user groups and the like. Pol098 (talk) 09:40, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, but message boards etc are not usually reliable sources. Access to the entire site of Oron or Filesonic is not blocked in the UK (I am in the UK and can access these sites fine), but specific URLs may be on a blacklist. This may cause problems for some innocent users. There are commands like traceroute which can reveal the likelihood of proxying when visiting a site, but there would be some legal issues in explaining how to do this. The issue of excessive bandwidth use in a given period (Bandwidth throttling) is a separate one and may not necessarily be linked to attempts to access illegal content.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 11:42, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

The following would be totally OR in an article, but as talk, here goes: after trying unsuccessfully to download Scientific Linux from a file-sharing site, I investigated reasons for the failure and found out what I added to the article. I phoned my ISP, explained the issue, and asked explicitly if they were using a transparent proxy; they said yes. I asked how to get round it and they said there was no way within their system. They were quite clear that the proxy was the reason why it was not possible to use the site. It applied to both private and business accounts (I have seen it reported that it is private accounts only; mine is business). I pointed out that IWF protection was possible without a transparent proxy, but they were adamant that it would not be changed. There is a solution: change to an ISP that does not use a transparent proxy; most do, one has to look around. Pol098 (talk) 11:57, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

This has also led to controversy in Australia, see Internet censorship in Australia. The advice from the ISP might not be strictly true for a user with a Virtual private network, but again this is an original research issue.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 12:38, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Other ways round the problem have been reported (find and use different IP addresses for problem websites; use "ssl" instead of "www" for some websites; VPN; use your own proxy server, which will work only if nobody else uses it on the same site). These probably count as OR, although anyone technically knowledgeable can judge what's written in forums and user groups; as far as I know it hasn't made it's way into "official sources". Pol098 (talk) 12:49, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Censorship of "Racist" Content[edit]

The article gives one brief mention that the filtering also blocks "racist" content.

This is of course a massive leap from an actually criminal activity like child pornography to manipulation of political speech, and should get about half the article's length discussing exactly how it is defined and what content/sites it blocks.

But all we've got is a silence from the "watchdog" people writing the article -- which is somewhat creepier than the filter itself.

For example, would it filter an academic article discussing Polynesian cannibalism? A political party that says "immigrants are responsible for crime"? Downloading a digital version of "Tintin in the Congo" or "Mein Kampf" from a bookstore? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:39, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

All of this is somewhat speculative, resulting from the secretive way in which the IWF operates. If the IWF blocked a page (as happened during the Virgin Killer affair), the web browser might give a fake 404 error, and the user would be none the wiser as to why it had happened. This highlights one of the shortcomings of the IWF, and the article Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia looks at this area in more detail.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 06:36, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Why does it not appear in this article too? The IWF operates as a mission creeping censorship Quango. Blocking racism be considered "political", and "criminally obscene adult material" has been described in the media as a law for targeting "people whom the police would like to "do something about", but who haven’t actually broken any laws" [7]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:43, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
The IWF does not currently ask the public to report racist material. The "extreme porn" issue arose after the case of Graham Coutts.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 12:56, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Since this is in the WP:LEAD and is not sourced, it should probably be removed. The IWF reporting page does not include racism as part of its remit.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 13:10, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for pointing out that it wasn't sourced properly... (talk) 13:17, 4 June 2011 (UTC)


There are a number of problems in writing balanced articles on an organisation such as this. One of the more paranoid worries is that anyone who includes too much (verified) criticism will be seen as an apologist for pedophilia and may himself be investigated or (less paranoid) content will be removed because the organisation itself (or its supporters) will remove the addition because it does not like the unaplatable fact. Secondly there is the old Wikipedia problem that when someone includes a (supported) negative view that is seen as POV (even when supported). As I have written elsewhere I see so many examples of the "don't say that Hitler was a nasty man" kind of removals - to remove negative views (supported by academics and historians) is not restoring balance, it is supporting your own POV! Like it or not a good many in the world have thought that Hitler was a nasty man (they may be right or wrong but that those views are so current becomes fact on its own). The best example of this has been an Homeopathy artcile - all the world (rightly or wrongly) scientific and academic see Homeopathy as a sham - and yet that must not be said (at least to the extent of evidence). it's all a bit lets be nice to people! The article on the IWF is not at all bad in terms of balance but there have been examples of additions being removed with deal with negative aspects and yet which are either clear fact or can be supported by reputable references. The point of an encylopedia is surely that it will be used. If unpalatble facts are removed then it cannot be used correctly - to gain facts/information to make ones own mind up, to do original research etc.etc. If (and I say IF) much of the academic world think the IWF needs more scrutiny, is secretive (perhaps for a reason), is not ityself regulated, is self-appointed (a clear fact), holds the ISPs to ransom, is part of an censorship "industry" with its own agenda/crusade, then it needs to be said. And if it needs to be said with some vigour then I see nothing wrong with that so long as it is supported. Fact is not POV, it is only accused of being POV because the accuser does not agree with the conclusion the fact will draw, or is a person who who does not understand the academic approach (both sides, different views = balance=truth). —Preceding unsigned comment added 2 October 2010 by JackRance22 (talkcontribs)

Mission Creep[edit]

Is there any commentary on this by a reliable source somewhere addressing that IWF has over time (racism, what they consider to be criminally obscene adult material, whatever that is) expanded it's remit and is therefore gradually reducing freedom of expression? Where does it stop, politics? (talk) 12:22, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

The IWF's page for reporting material [8] does not include racism, but does include child porn and "extreme porn", which it defines as: "UK-hosted criminally obscene adult content that may be considered to "deprave and corrupt" those exposed to it. This could include realistic images of extreme pornography such as bestiality, necrophilia or an act which is life-threatening." It is interesting that there is a requirement for the material to be UK hosted, as attempting to take down material on an overseas website might prove difficult.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 12:36, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Interesting, I got racist from the wiki article... straw man? (talk) 13:00, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Criticism > Technical issues[edit]

The blacklisting of sites may be concealed by a generic HTTP 404 "page not found" message rather than a more appropriate HTTP 403 "forbidden" message.

While this is what the cited article claims, it is incorrect. There is no standardized HTTP error code indicating that meaning as of yet, but there is a proposed error code: 451. I removed the inaccurate claim, but I didn't mention 451 as it's only a draft RFC at the moment. --holizz (talk) 04:47, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

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