In the media
China blocks secure version of Wikipedia
An article on TheNextWeb.com says that the Chinese Government has "effectively blocked" Wikipedia by cutting off access to the HTTP Secure (https) "workaround", almost completely cutting off uncensored access to those in China. Though Wikipedia has previously been blocked, people could still circumvent it using https instead of HTTP. The Great Firewall of China was not able to selectively block sensitive content, according to the initial report from Greatfire.org, a prominent censorship watch organization which the New York Times has previously featured. Greatfire.org accused Wikipedia of not caring about Chinese Wikipedia readers, using as evidence Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' threat to make https the default in the UK if its parliament passed a "snooping bill"—and the lack of similar support for those in China.
Greatfire is calling for the WMF to switch the default protocol for Chinese Wikipedia readers from http to https, which would make the Chinese government choose between lifting the blackout or keeping what would quickly become a highly publicized block.
When asked to respond, the Wikimedia Foundation's Head of Communications Jay Walsh soundly disputed the blog's assertions:
|Clearly we don't hold any readers of our projects in any less regard. Our mission is to bring the knowledge contained in the Wikimedia projects to everyone on the planet. There is no strategic consideration around how we can make one or another language project more accessible or readable in one part of the world or another, and as the blog post does correctly state, we do not have control over how a national government operates its censorship system. We also do not work with any national censorship system to limit access to or project knowledge in any way.
Walsh also took issue with the blog post's factual assumptions, such as Jimmy's role within the WMF, which he says was mischaracterized by Greatfire. While Jimmy has indirect impact through his position on the board of trustees, he does not have direct, day-to-day impact on its staff. In addition, Walsh told the Signpost that while moving to an https default is a goal the WMF is actively working on, doing so is not "trivial"—it is a delicate process that the WMF plans to enable in graduated steps, from logged-in users to testing on smaller wikis before making it the default for anonymous users and readers on all projects.
Articles currently censored by the Chinese government primarily center around the Tiananmen Square Massacre which occurred on 3 and 4 June (the dates on which Wikipedia was censored) of 1989, and about which the Chinese government forbids discussion. Related discussion is currently occurring on the Wikimedia-l mailing list, and a technical description of the https "challenges" can be read here.
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