Combating censorship

By From page A4 | August 21, 2013

Sometimes, you have to stick to your guns. Especially when you’re talking about spreading news, where sacrificing the integrity of your information makes you no less enlightening than propaganda.

Kudos to Wikipedia, whose co-counder Jimmy Wales recently said he would rather have no Wikipedia in China than comply with any form of censorship. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, he said the Wikipedia company will always refuse to comply with government requests to restrict information, and that access to knowledge and education is a human right.

China forces users to only access the unencrypted version of the site, where politically sensitive topics are blocked. Keyword filtering has become a common practice there.

In December, China’s legislature required Internet access providers to collect data about users that links their online names to their real identities. When asked by the Wall Street Journal if he’d comply with the real-name registration system, Wales said, “Not for five seconds.”

Compromising the quality of information your production shares with the public is a big no-no, no matter how wide of an audience you’re trying to reach. At some point, organizations must stand up and stick to their guns, even if it means being banned from an entire country.

While China hasn’t banned Wikipedia altogether yet, it could happen if Wikipedia takes further action to ensure its full scope of articles are broadcast there. Web activists have asked Wikipedia to default to the encrypted version of the site, forcing China to make the decision over allowing full access to the site or banning it outright. If Wikipedia switched, China would be unable to filter or track user behavior on the site.

Unfortunately, Wales said the company currently does not have the technical ability to do that yet in China. We’re hoping it, and every other worldwide information company facing censorship in the country, figures it out soon. It may lead to their ban, but the integrity of each would remain rock solid, and that’s just as important.

Mountain Democrat

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