Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2006-07-24/Country blocking

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Another country reportedly blocks Wikipedia

By Michael Snow, 24 July 2006

Another instance of Wikipedia users in Asia having their access to the site blocked surfaced in the news last week. This time around, the country reportedly doing the blocking was Saudi Arabia.

Arab News, an English-language news site focused on the Middle East, reported that access to Wikipedia in Saudi Arabia was cut off last week. Rumors of similar blocks by Saudi internet administrators have circulated before; the article indicated that Wikipedia has been blocked and unblocked several times in recent weeks.

According to the story, Saudi Arabia effectively has only one Internet service provider, except for satellite users who are unaffected by the blocks. Its policy is to block sites that are "in violation of Islamic tradition or national regulations". Blocking is done at the direction of the Saudi government, which sometimes directly requests the blocking of a particular site. The report did mention that the organization is going through a restructuring process, and mistakes are sometimes made in blocking.

If in fact Saudi officials are blocking Wikipedia due to religious concerns, this probably is not the first such case. Pakistan reportedly briefly blocked access to Wikipedia at the peak of the controversy over cartoon depictions of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Wikipedia nevertheless remains popular in Pakistan, ranking #14 among websites in traffic there according to Alexa's country breakdowns. [1] It no longer ranks in the top 100 in Saudi Arabia after making a brief appearance on that list earlier. [2]

The country best known for blocking particular web content remains the People's Republic of China, which has more or less steadily blocked Wikipedia since last October. In India, reports of extensive blocking of blogs surfaced last week, amid speculation that this was in reaction to the recent Mumbai train bombings. The Indian government later stated that the reason was inflammatory material on a specific blog or blogs, but that some ISPs blocked the entire domains of the blog hosting services, apparently because they lacked the capability to implement more narrowly tailored blocks. No reports of Wikipedia being affected by the Indian block have appeared.

Also this week: From the editor

BlockingLawsuitM.A.N.I.A.New YorkerElectionGerman WikipediaNews and notesPress coverageFeatures and admins

T.R.O.L.L.