" The Sunday Indian" magazine on its recent cover story heavily bashes Wikipedia, Google etc. The article also features an interview with Jay Walsh, Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Communications.
*Some background : * The publication is supported by Arindam Chaudhuri , Head of IIPM, who was heavily criticized by bloggers for alleged misrepresentations and false advertisements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Institute_of_Planning_and_Management_advertising_and_blogging_controversy You can read more about the article here : *The Sunday Indian : "Internet Hooliganism"* http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/internet-hooliganism/15181/ ( The article is very huge and hence only few relevant extracts copied here) <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Institute_of_Planning_and_Management_advertising_and_blogging_controversy> Why internet vandals and slander supporting entities like Google must be criminally prosecuted and made to pay for promoting defamatory links and suggestions, and how the new IT act is a step in the right direction and gives Indians the right to get justice against such vandalism. ...First, as I mentioned earlier, is the wicked anonymity that the web provides to Internet posters, which gives them protection from being identified and prosecuted. Second is the hand-in-hand conspiratorial connivance of Internet companies like search engines, social networking sites, blog site hosts and even ISPs (intermediaries, in summary) that refuse to delete or block out the execrable comments and links and also refuse to confirm the identities of the anon-posters. Google, Wikipedia, Twitter... all of them fall within the same indecent category of companies. Third has been the unfortunate legal protection given till now to such intermediaries, who apparently could not be held responsible for material that others were posting on their websites (for example, in the US, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has protected intermediaries from liability for defamatory content posted on their sites, even if they allowed the content to remain despite having been notified about the same)..... ...But Google is only one side of the story. There are others in the same league and perhaps as worse. One of the infamously notable ones is Wikipedia, which touts itself as the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit – a metaphor for allowing any anonymous author to post details about any and every topic. And as the Wikipedia link almost always comes on the first page of any search engine's results, the nuisance value Wikipedia and its army of unidentifiable contributors command is immense and as dangerous. Stories of even Wikipedia being taken to court are well known. Recent years have seen temporary bans on Wiki pages from various governments, including the Dutch and German ones. UK’s largest internet service provider banned Wikipedia pages containing child pornography a few months ago. The Australian government has blacklisted Wikipedia pages permanently along with “child porn sites.” University of California professors refuse references to Wikipedia. BusinessWeek has called Wikipedia “awash in controversy.” New York Times, US government’s patents office and various other highly credible entities have official policy documents against Wikipedia. US Senators like Ted Stevens in Alaska have introduced bills to pull Wikipedia out of schools and libraries. The US Appeals Court now has an official ruling against Wikipedia sources being quoted. On April 4, 2009, Financial Times certified Wikipedia as “hilariously unreliable free-for-all.” USA Today’s founding editorial director John Seigenthaler Sr went to the courts when his Wiki biography concocted up that he was connected with the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy. While Wharton writers confess, “It's unclear how the Wikipedia model will evolve...,” Harvard professors cast more caustic doubts saying, “No, is the short answer here [to whether Wikipedia transfers to a good corporate environment model].” When San Francisco-based Jay Walsh, Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Communications, was questioned by TSI in May 2011 (read the full interview later in this article) on the ongoing defamation of personalities on Wikipedia, and on the concept of Internet hooliganism, he replied, “Our project strongly supports free speech, but it also represents the power of communities to remove vandalism, protect quality information, and generally respect the importance of having high quality, non-vandalised information. We're proud of that reputation.” In fact, as recently as on May 9, 2011, UK-based billionaire Louis Bacon won a case in a London High Court, to force three websites to reveal the identities of the bloggers who were posting besmirching remarks online. One of these websites was Wikipedia (the two other were WordPress and Denver Post). What entities like Wikipedia, Google, Twitter et al are blatantly overlooking is the fact that freedom to express should never be assumed to be freedom to defame. Citizen journalism is not about promoting gossips, displaying profanities in words and making biased mockery of humans and organizations. But easier said than done......... .....” Even Barkha Dutt of NDTV sent blogger Chyetanya Kunte a legal notice for posting his opinion (based on some excerpts from Wikipedia) that her coverage of the 26/11 attacks might have endangered human lives. [Of course, Kunte backed down after the reaction from Dutt]. .... ....And in this context, the rules notified on April 11, 2011, under the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011, by the Government of India, deserves a loud applause. Something as good as this, is a rare sight in the sector. What the notification clarifies is that, hereon, it is not just bloggers with malicious intent, who will get dragged to the table of interrogation. Even intermediaries like all search engines and websites (which would include Google, Wikipedia, or even online payment & auction sites, social networking sites and hosted blogs), Telecom and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and even cyber cafes, will be held liable for all harm caused to the party – individual or a body of individuals – which has lodged a complaint. This war is not just a blogger versus an innocent tale anymore. The intermediaries are neck-deep in too...... ....Also, all Internet businesses in India (and if possible, around the world) should be made answerable for their local operations, in accordance with the law of the Indian land. Else, they should be blocked. This way, we will not have a Wikipedia US operation evading legal notices because an Indian court passed an order against it, or a Google India claiming innocence because a Mumbai High Court passed an order. .... *"We support free speech"* Jay Walsh, Head of Communications, Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia) TSI: A lot has been debated over time that bloggers have received more than enough headspace to defame personalities over the Internet in an unchecked fashion. So does this call for ethical and strict government regulations and soon (like was passed on privacy)? Jay Walsh (JW): Wikimedia's projects are operated by thousands of volunteers from all over the world. Although the projects (our servers) are housed in the US, and we're ultimately required to abide by US laws around privacy, our users in many countries will generally make their best efforts to adhere to relevant privacy laws in the countries where they reside. In other words, the users appreciate that the information they post on Wikipedia in their own country should be done so within the scope of the laws of that country. When there are issues with vandalism on Wikipedia, our community is able to address the issues rapidly. Volunteers work hard to keep the information high quality – and perhaps most importantly, for living people who are represented by articles on Wikipedia, volunteers want to ensure that the right information is there at all times. Vandalism on all articles, but particularly on articles about living people, is not tolerated and is rapidly removed. So, our system is working quite well, and our community isn't seeking out better or tougher government regulations around personal privacy. TSI: How do you view the concept of Internet hooliganism, where bloggers write anything about any person or institution – which are mostly hearsay and wrong, and worse, defamatory. Should the law take strict actions against such people? JW: The Foundation doesn't have a specific point of view on this matter. Our project strongly supports free speech, but it also represents the power of communities to remove vandalism, protect quality information, and generally respect the importance of having high quality, non-vandalised information. We're proud of that reputation – it's about a massive, global effort to present the best quality information on the web. TSI: Wikipedia has been held up many time for allowing bloggers to generate and display content that is defamatory. How does Wikipedia handle the vast amount of defaming content? JW: My previous answers speak to our overall and continuous efforts to remove vandalism in articles. This is partly an automated process of deleting edits that are clearly vandal-oriented (using swear words for example), but largely the work of thousands of volunteers who constantly assess and review new edits to Wikipedia and its sister projects. They review edits one at a time, reverting vandalism and blocking users who seek to contravene our basic policies. TSI: Does Wikipedia feel legally responsible for such content? JW: Wikipedia is about providing the highest quality, neutral information to the visitors of Wikipedia. All Wikipedians share in the responsibility to ensure the quality of content, and new users are welcome to take part in the process. TSI: How many court cases globally are currently pending against Wikipedia where Wikipedia is cited as a defendant? JW: Occasionally individuals reach out to the Wikimedia Foundation, the official non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia, to request action on content. Sometimes this comes in the form of correspondence from lawyers. There are far fewer situations where active litigation is necessary. I'm not aware of any current legal cases. TSI: What are the lawsuits that Wikipedia has lost globally? JW: I'm not aware of any situations where the Foundation has not won a legal situation. TSI: Should there be a separate law governing blogs and other Internet public display websites? JW: That's a question best left to those who use or edit Wikipedia, but from the Foundation's perspective we believe that our project works well within the pre-existing laws in the US to protect information relating to living people. We are more concerned with seeing better laws developed internationally to protect free speech on line, and to ensure that every person on the planet can participate freely in the creation and sharing of all human knowledge.
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