Scorpions Wiki Page Censored For ‘Child Pornography’


December 7, 2008

The Internet Watch Foundation has propelled the UK into the forefront of the Internet censorship debate by blacklisting an image on Wikipedia as “a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18.” You may already have this one. It’s a 1976 Scorpions album cover….

Wikinews reports that British ISPs restrict access to Wikipedia amid child pornography allegations. The story says:

Wikinews has learned that at least six of the United Kingdom’s main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have implemented monitoring and filtering mechanisms that are causing major problems for UK contributors on websites operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, amongst up to 1200 other websites. The filters appear to be applied because Wikimedia sites are hosting a Scorpions album cover which some call child pornography. The Scorpions are a German rock band who have used several controversial album covers and are perhaps best known for their song, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.

The story says that the “major UK ISPs” are thought to be O2/Be Unlimited, Virgin Media, Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and Opal Telecommunications (TalkTalk).

The blocking has been prompted by the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation, which has put out a statement today (Sunday). It says:

A Wikipedia web page, was reported through the IWF’s online reporting mechanism in December 2008. As with all child sexual abuse reports received by our Hotline analysts, the image was assessed according to the UK Sentencing Guidelines Council (page 109). The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18, but hosted outside the UK. The IWF does not issue takedown notices to ISPs or hosting companies outside the UK, but we did advise one of our partner Hotlines abroad and our law enforcement partner agency of our assessment. The specific URL (individual webpage) was then added to the list provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to a potentially illegal indecent image of a child.

The Scorpions album was released in 1976, so it’s amazing to think that civilisation has managed to survive for more than 40 years, in spite of this evil in our midst.

The IWF has not acted against or other sites that carry images of the original album cover (which has apparently been replaced by something much uglier), such as Google. Also, there are several other album covers to censor, not to mention paintings, books, movies and Shakespeare plays. Presumably it’s just a matter of time….

It should be noted that the cover in question is no stranger to controversy, and its use on Wikipedia has been under debate for some time. Gawker ran the story, Wikipedia Is Arguing Whether This Album Cover Is Child Porn, seven months ago, on May 9. But I didn’t notice any American ISP’s blocking access to Wikipedia.

Of course, this IWF action has done nothing to stop real child pornography, which we all abhor. Also, even the people whose access to Wikipedia has been restricted will be able to find ways round it, if they can be bothered. What it has actually done is ensure that millions of people will go and look at the cover to see what all the fuss is about, when otherwise they’d never have suffered from “inadvertent exposure” to it.

But it will be interesting to see the response. Has the IWF done the right thing, or has it merely damaged its own credibility? What else is being blocked because the IWF thinks it might be “potentially illegal”? What do you think?

Courtesy of