Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia won't surveil users for China

This year's annual Wikipedia conference, Wikimania, was held in Hong Kong, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales devoted some time in his speech and subsequent interviews to a discussion of the site's relationship to the Chinese authorities. Wikipedia is heavily censored by the Great Firewall, which blocks many queries and pages, and an encrypted, unfilterable version of Wikipedia is blocked altogether. Wales ruled out shutting down the unencrypted version for now, on technical grounds, but said that the site would never censor itself in response to government threats.

More significantly, Wales ruled out completely any participation in China's "real name" policy, which requires online services to track user activity and associate it with their real names, saying he would not comply with this, "not for five seconds."

In December, China's legislature decided to require Internet access providers to collect data about users that links their online names to their real identities.

Asked whether he would comply with a real-name registration system, Mr. Wales replied "not for five seconds."

Wikipedia has had a tumultuous history in China. Beijing imposed several bans on the crowd-sourced digital encyclopedia, one of which lasted from 2005 to 2007. The Chinese market is now dominated by local players such as Baidu, Inc., which has its own Chinese-language search engine, as well as Soso.com and Hudong.

The Chinese-language Wikipedia, which includes entries from Hong Kong and Taiwan, was established more than a decade ago, and currently has more than 700,000 articles.

The unencrypted version of the Wikipedia site is broadly accessible in China, Mr. Wales says, and notes he has seen growth in participation from mainland Chinese users. But there remain several barriers for mainland Chinese citizens who want to access the site, particularly in areas where extra fees are charged for access to non-Chinese websites.

Wikipedia Co-Founder Refuses to Comply With China's Censorship [Riva Gold/WSJ]

(via Hacker News)