Wikipedia co-founder refuses compliance with China’s censorship


Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, is convicted that every human being should have the right to access information; therefore, when the Chinese government expressed its desire to censor Wikipedia, I wasn’t surprised when he said he’d rather walk than comply.

The Great Firewall of China, also known as the Golden Shield Project, has been blocking the encrypted version of Wikipedia because the encrypted site would allow citizens unfiltered access to information.  By funneling access to the unencrypted version, the Chinese government has the ability to block any topics it deems politically unfit for the people.

The Great Firewall of China was initiated in 1998 as a surveillance project to censor digital content.  The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) used everything from IP blocking to DNS redirection to deny access to sites that the government determined to be subversive, linked to the Dalai Lama or related to criminal activity.  China is currently blocking over 2,600 websites under its internet censorship policy.

An Wales is vexed, but ultimately, he realizes there’s not much he can do to stop the Chinese from patrolling digital information.

We don’t approve of filtering, but there is nothing we can do to stop it

Some activists have exhorted Wales to make the encrypted version of Wikipedia the default that way the Chinese government can’t filter user content; however, although Wales likes the notion, he says his teams don’t have the technical resources to implement that plan in China right now.

On the one hand, I think Wales’s conviction that information should be free is laudable but on the other hand, I don’t understand why he simply can’t default Wikipedia to the encrypted page.  This seems like it would alleviate the problem because it essentially puts China in a quandary: either China will capitulate its efforts of internet censorship and permit Wikipedia or it will absolutely block Wikipedia.  I think an ultimatum should be the stratagem Wales uses to win here.

Yes, it’s drastic yes, but in this case I don’t know what his options are.  I agree that information needs to be free and Wales can punctate this point by forcing China to either completely block Wikipedia or comply his terms.  What do you think about all this?  Is China a lost cause for Wikipedia?  Let me know in the comments.


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