Wikipedia Refuses to Comply with Chinese Censorship

With many internet companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft knuckling under pressure from the rulers of China to censor their content, it's refreshing to see it when one takes a stand against political censorship (h/t: Caine Starfire):

The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries.

Jimmy Wales, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, challenged other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing.

Wikipedia, a hugely popular reference tool in the West, has been banned from China since last October. Whereas Google, Microsoft and Yahoo went into the country accepting some restrictions on their online content, Wales believes it must be all or nothing for Wikipedia.

His stand comes as Irrepressible.info, a joint campaign by The Observer and Amnesty International for free speech on the web, continues with the support of more than 37,000 people around the world. The campaign calls on governments to stop persecuting political bloggers and on IT companies to stop complying with these repressive regimes.

'We're really unclear why we would be [banned],' Wales told The Observer. 'We have internal rules about neutrality and deleting personal attacks and things like this. We're far from being a haven for dissidents or a protest site. So our view is that the block is in error and should be removed, but we shall see.'

Wales said censorship was ' antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."'

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013