Net neutrality has been a highly controversial issue in India for the past two years. In 2015, a pro-net neutrality Save the Internet campaign arose that vehemently criticised Indian telecom companies along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org initiative.
Indian comedy collective All India Bakchod played a major part in India's popular campaign for net neutrality, releasing a series of influential YouTube videos (1, 2, 3) that urged Indian citizens to oppose Free Basics and other zero-rated services.
Internet.org, more recently re-branded Free Basics, is designed to provide mobile phone users in developing countries with zero-rated access to Facebook and a small number of other websites, including Wikipedia, while accessing anything else on the Internet would mean that the user incurs data charges.
The campaign against Free Basics was spearheaded by lawyers, IT experts, and cultural figures like the All India Bakchod comedy collective, which made three influential YouTube videos urging people to write to the Indian Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) in support of net neutrality, and to express their opposition to zero-rating schemes like Free Basics on the grounds that they mainly serve to cement existing monopolies, to the detriment of smaller and local competitors.
In February 2016, TRAI upheld the net neutrality principle and banned Free Basics and similar zero-rated services in India, a decision widelyattributed to the popular campaign.
The Economic Times asked Wales for his opinion about these developments (time code 6:14 in the video), given that the Wikimedia Foundation has its own zero-rated offering, Wikipedia Zero. Wales defended Wikipedia Zero:
Our Wikipedia Zero offering follows a very strict set of principles such as no money is ever exchanged and so on. Net neutrality is such a very, very complicated topic. It's something that I am very passionate about; I think net neutrality is incredibly important. And at the same time I think that getting access to knowledge for the poorest people in the world is also very important.
Sometimes those two things can be to some degree in tension and we have to be really careful about it. I think the most fundamental thing is that it's really important that we maintain a very open and free Internet and a free flow of information. So the detailed policy options ... well, it gets very subtle ... but net neutrality is very important.
Wales has in the past commented favourably on Facebook's Internet.org project, saying in 2014 that the Wikimedia Foundation's Wikipedia Zero people were in contact with the Internet.org team and that "In my personal capacity, I am a big fan of what they are trying to do and support it fully".
In the Economic Times interview, however, Wales remained non-committal about the recent developments in India outlawing zero-rated services, saying he lacked the knowledge to give an opinion on whether the Indian government had done the right thing in clamping down on Free Basics:
I am not an expert on the specific legislation, the specific details of the Indian case. What I do say is I encourage people on all sides to come together and really think about all of the different competing values and how to best balance them. Was this the best balancing act? I'm not really in a position to say.
Wales also commented on a number of other issues in the video interview, such as the importance of getting enough good sleep, the spread of smartphones in India, the development of Wikipedias in India's regional languages and Wikimedia Foundation fundraising.
On the latter topic, Wales said that in order to fund the Wikimedia Foundation's recently started endowment, he would be approaching tech billionaires this year and ask them to "chip in" (time code 5:30 in the video). He affirmed this intent in an interview (May 30) with Austrian business magazine Trend as well, saying his main fundraising job this year is to "raise 100 million dollars".
Hollywood actress Amber Heard, whose Wikipedia article was vandalised on Friday
Racism accusation removed: The Daily Callerreports that accusations by a black Washington Post employee that the paper's owner "is responsible for 'systemic' racism at the paper, including white managers shrieking at her and other African-American subordinates with impunity, were ... removed from his Wikipedia page by an anonymous user on Wednesday" who cited possible "vandalism". The Daily Caller opines that "the only 'vandalism' here was the removal of the information, which damages the whole purpose of Wikipedia: make crucial factual information, particularly about powerful public figures, available to the public." (June 4)
Depp–Heard divorce sparks BLP violation on Wikipedia: The Daily Mailreports that Amber Heard's Wikipedia biography was edited on Friday to say that she was a "gold digger" who "married the super talented and respected actor Johnny Depp to take advantage of his kind nature. She feels she no longer needed him therefore began blackmailing him with abuse allegations." The edit, made by single-edit account Hillstar523, was reverted 11 minutes later and its content is no longer visible in the Wikipedia article's edit history. The Daily Mail illustrates its story with before-and-after images of Google's Knowledge Graph panel for Heard quoting the Wikipedia wording. Heard's biography has been subject to pending changes protection since January 2014 because of persistent vandalism. As noted in this Signpost issue's traffic report, both Depp's and Heard's biographies were among the ten most viewed Wikipedia articles this week. (June 4)
Gender gap: Nicole Torres asks in the Harvard Business Review, "Why do so few women edit Wikipedia?" Her article reviews academic research on the matter that has highlighted factors such as women's inclination to avoid conflict (resulting in a greater reluctance to edit other people's work), men's tendency to be overconfident in their own abilities even in the face of negative feedback, and a tendency for women to be punished more severely for expressions of anger than men are. The article concludes with a discussion of recent initiatives by the Wikimedia Foundation to identify and curb online harassment. A brief summary of Torres' piece also appears on the website of The Economic Times. (June 2, 4)
Year of Science: The Daily Bruinreports on programs at the UCLA and other universities that involve students in writing Wikipedia articles as part of their coursework. The article quotes the Wiki Education Foundation's Eryk Salvaggio. (June 2)
Sebastian Bach: On Loudwire, Sebastian Bachplays "Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?", resulting in "a memorable episode filled with correcting falsehoods about his life and career." (June 1)
Wikiversity Journal of Medicine: The Conversationreports on the Wikiversity Journal of Medicine, hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. (May 24)
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