Wow. The internet has been buzzing today regarding the IWFs request that all major ISPs in the UK block the Virgin Killer page on wikipedia. I did consider not writing about the topic, as in doing so I'm bringing more attention to the aforementioned album cover, but then again I'd like my views to be read.
I hadn't heard of the scorpions, or Virgin Killer, until this morning when I real Rory Cellan-Jones article on the BBC Website informing me that an organisation called the IWF had asked a number of UK ISPs to act responsible and block a wikipedia page containing 'potentially illegal material.' This in itself is worring enough.. it wasn't so long that we were complaining about Yahoo! and Google doing deals with the "Great Firewall of China" - then we go and set up our own "Firewall of Freedom."
Sarah Robertson, spokesperson of the IWF was asked why the whole page was blocked, and not just the image. "Illegal sites often hide images in pages," said Sarah Robertson, director of communications for the IWF.
Method - Blocking for a 404 Error.
This is I think the most damaging thing of the whole saga. Why do the IWF not have a holding page that specifically states why the page is blocked. That way it's clear to journalists/media that the page is blocked, so that it can be actively reported upon - it's clear to people in the UK why their site has been blocked - and the publicity that this holding page could generate would help just as much as the publicity gained from today's news - without the side-affect of discrediting teh IWFs ability to hold a p*** up in a brewery.
Singing the same song
Whilst I completely agree with the issues that the IWF deal with, I believe their methods for dealing with the issue are fundamentally flawed. We need to have an organisation that are both accountable for their actions, and voted for by the public of the UK. There is a line to be drawn between what is acceptable and what isn't - and the only way that the line may be drawn accurately is by the people of the UK. When the album was initially released - it should have been decisions made then, by both the record label and the Music Classification Body of the time, which sets the level of censorship. If, as time passes, this needs reviewing.. then there should be written policies and accountability for the decision.
If there was an equivalent body which took 'Mein Kampf' off the shelves of British Libraries, there would be a general public outcry.
The government need to address this issue. If they intend on allowing privately owned companies to decide which information we, the British Public, are allowed to access - then we, the British Public, should be given the chance to decide on a) if it is done, and b) how it is done.
Is it now illegal to circumvent the restrictions placed upon that wikipedia page in order to see what all the fuss is about? Probably not, but you wouldn't want to try it would you? - 'Just in case' it's illegal. This is a bad precedent to set, one that upsets me greatly, and makes me wonder.