Liberating Free Knowledge - Countering Government Censorship on Wikipedia

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Liberating Free Knowledge - Countering Government Censorship on Wikipedia
Presenter(s) Zhou Zhou
Title(s) Legal Counsel
Organization(s) Wikimedia Foundation
Project(s)
Country(ies) USA
Social media
2017 theme Tools & Technology

The presentation will first discuss the strong anti-censorship stance of the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia. I will discuss our governing principles of not allowing censorship of Wikipedia, including blocking, filtering, and any other efforts to remove legitimate information, as a means to facilitate any of our other strategic goals. This goal is somewhat different than those of commercial online platforms and affects our actions and responses in at risk countries.

Second, I will discuss our enablement of HTTPS and Strict Transport Security by default in 2015 to help us protect user privacy and prevent selective article based censorship. I will discuss impact of this transition on our projects and the interesting censorship analysis this HTTPS transition provided.

Third, I will discuss the Wikimedia Foundation’s collaboration in 2016 on a research study with the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard to study where Wikipedia was being censored. As part of the study, the Berkman Center created open-source software tools to algorithmically analyze our page view logs for traffic anomalies around the world. I will discuss the study and our experiences in using software to help us detect censorship, and how such methods can be used by other companies in anti-censorship efforts.

Finally, going forward, we want to figure out other ways to educate and enable our user communities around the world to better resist and counter censorship efforts. Therefore, I will also discuss other potential tools and considerations for fighting censorship on Wikipedia including use of VPNs, access via peer networks, provision offline access, and the utilization of ‘Collateral Freedom’. We want to also take feedback from the audience about what else we can do to help our communities around the world.


Format Conversation
Target Groups Journalists, Software Developers, Security Trainers, Advocacy/Policy Professional, Communications Professionals, Academia, Front Line Activists, Tool builders, community advocates, censorship researchers
Length 1 Hour
Skill Level Intermediate
Language English


Session Outputs

-Inform the participants of the censorship issues affecting Wikipedia around the world, as outlined in the previous sections. -Solicit advice from participants on other ways the Wikimedia Foundation can fight censorship moving forward. In particular, we are especially in hearing feedback on 1) how we can built or promote anti-censorship tools on Wikipedia and our other projects and 2) how we can educate our communities about ways to circumvent censorship. -Make connections with technologists and activists that can help the Wikimedia Foundation deal with censorship issues in the future.

Next Steps

Additional Notes

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