Wikipedia Co-Founder Refuses to Comply With Censorship

While in Hong Kong for the annual Wikimania conference, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales told the Wall Street Journal that he will not censor his site in order to enter China:

Since early June, in the lead-up to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, China’s Great Firewall has blocked the encrypted version of Wikipedia where users in China could access the site without filters. Now, users can now only access the unencrypted version of the site, where articles on politically sensitive topics are blocked and keyword filtering is common.

Web activists have since called on Wikipedia to default to the encrypted version of their site, where outside sources cannot filter or track user behavior on the site. The move, they say, would force the government to decide between blocking Wikipedia outright and allowing access to the unfiltered version of the site.

Mr. Wales said he liked the idea, but said the company does not yet have the technical ability to do that right now in China, and that the company would not shut down the unencrypted version of the site. He is also not particularly concerned about the threat of cyber attacks, since the company does not engage in malicious activities or carry financial data. [Source]

When asked if he would comply with Chinese government requirements for real-name registration of web users, Wales replied, “not for five seconds.”

In June, GreatFire.org wrote posts explaining how the encrypted version of Wikipedia would better serve Chinese readers, and calling on Wikipedia to make it default:

We would also argue that by not providing a default HTTPS connection in China, Wikipedia is consciously limiting access to project knowledge because they know that many Chinese language articles are blocked by the censorship authorities.

Furthermore, not having any country-specific strategy, especially for China, is a rookie mistake. You need only speak to your peers in the US about how important it is to treat China separately – your letter does not even address Wikipedia’s history in China. If Wikipedia considered China separately, it could make a big difference in the Middle Kingdom. We reiterate: please consider making an exception to your policy and make HTTPS the default for users from China. [Source]