Wikipedia co-founder talks censorship, issues with Chinese government

Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales is no stranger to voicing his opinion, and has done such this week in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. During the talk, Wales discussed the issue of censorship, focusing extensively on China and saying that he'd rather Wikipedia not be available in the nation rather than having the website bow to demands of censorship.

The interview took place in Hong Kong recently, with Wales saying that Wikipedia will never give in to government requests to censor information. Access to "knowledge and education" is a basic right of humans, he said, and obviously censorship directly impedes access to those two subjects. He then went on to discuss the issue of censorship in regards to China specifically.

China is notorious for its censorship of certain information, something achieved via the Great Firewall. With the firewall, the Chinese government has blocked its citizens from accessing the encrypted version of Wikipedia, which would give Internet users in the nation unfiltered access to the site. As such, only the unencrypted version of Wikipedia is available.

Because of this, topics that the Chinese government does not want available for public consumption are blocked, and certain keywords can not be searched for. Some have called on Wikipedia Foundation to make a switch, putting the encrypted version as the default so that access to the site becomes all or nothing – unfiltered and untracked access or no access at all.

While Wales is open to the idea, he said that it is not possible in China from a technical viewpoint for now, and that the unencrypted version won't be taken down. He went on to say that a real-name registration system would never be complied with, and that Wikipedia Foundation has been in communication with the Chinese government, making him disinclined to believe the site could be completely blocked without warning.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal