UK ISPs on Scorpions' Virgin Killer cover: OMG BAN THE INTERNET

zabu of nΩd

Free Insultation
Feb 9, 2007

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 would call child pornography. The Scorpions is the band behind "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and produced a number of controversial album covers.

The measures applied redirect traffic for a significant portion of the UK's Internet population through six servers which can log and filter the content that is available to the end user. A serious side-effect of this is the inability of administrators on Wikimedia sites to block vandals and other troublemakers without potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of innocent contributors who are contributing to the sites in good faith.

The filtering is in response to the Internet Watch Foundation's list of websites that host or contain content that have been reported to contain inappropriate images of naked children. The IWF considers those images to be child pornography.

Contributors or individuals attempting to view an affected image or file, depending on their ISP, may get a warning saying, "we have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.". Other ISPs provide blank pages, 404 errors, or other means of blocking the content.

"The Protection of Children Act 1978 as amended in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, makes it an offence to take, make, permit to be taken, distribute, show, possess with intent to distribute, and advertise indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children under the age of 18. The ‘making’ of such images includes downloading, that is, making a copy of a child sexual abuse image on a computer, so, in the UK, accessing such content online is a serious criminal offence," says the IWF on their website in an article updated on November 28. The IWF says that there are at least 800 to 1,200 websites on the list of those who host or contain offensive material. The list is not public and the IWF never notified Wikimedia Foundation about blocking of Wikipedia content. The affected page does not display any message informing the user about blocked content on most ISPs, instead, a technical error message is shown. However, Demon redirects users to a block message on the IFW's site explaining that the page was blocked as the organisation suspects child porn or links to it to be present. The IWF states that "we do not notify site owners that their websites are on our list."
1976 album cover for the Scorpions.
Image: RCA/Scorpions.

The concern for Wikimedia is for some images like an album cover from a 1976 record of the Scorpions titled 'Virgin Killer'. It displays an underage girl, posing nude, with a lens crack crossing over her genitals, but nothing blocking out her breasts. The girl appears to be around 10-years old. In the U.S. the band later replaced the image with one of the group. The cover was uploaded to Wikipedia in 2006, but Wikinews learned that on May 9, 2008 at (21:17 UTC), despite a result of 43 to 12 in favor of 'keep' on a deletion request, the image was deleted, but later restored a day later. Earlier on December 6, the image was put back up for a deletion request, but it was later closed as Wikimedia "does not censor".

Another image that is questionable could be a screenshot from the 1938 film Child Bride. Its goal was to bring to light the attempts at banning child marriages. In the article on Wikipedia, a screenshot appears of then 12-year-old Shirley Mills partially naked after skinny dipping. In the photo, at least one of her breasts can be seen.

Other albums featuring nudity below the age of 16 have previously caused controversy; Blind Faith attracted criticism as did Houses of the Holy. Multiple companies have gone public stating that they implement the recommendations of the Internet Watch Foundation. Not all of these are known to have implemented measures against Wikimedia sites; the major UK ISPs thought to have affected Wikimedia sites are, O2/Be Unlimited, Virgin Media, Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and Opal Telecommunications (TalkTalk).

Wikinews has contacted Wikimedia's legal counsel, Mike Godwin and the IWF for a statement, but so far neither have replied.

Yup. Nothing like a blanket crackdown on online freedom of expression over a fucking 30 year old music album. Nice job guys.
To be fair, the Scorpions probably should never have used (or taken?) the pic in the first place. Can't really deny that getting a prepubescent girl to pose nude for you and then publishing the pic is pretty fucked up. But to think that it's doing anyone any harm at this point is just ridiculous - not to mention that the album has cultural significance, and people aren't going to be buying it just to have kiddie porn.

edit: other than Mort
the scorps were fucking awesome throughout the '70s and because of that fact they can do whatever the fuck they want as far as i'm concerned