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Larry Sanger Tells FBI Wikipedia Distributes "Child Pornography" 572

Posted by timothy
from the and-it-may-be-knowingly dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with news that Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has reported to the FBI what he says is child pornography on Wikipedia, including links (redacted in the letter just linked) to entries about pedophilia and the genre of manga known as lolicon. The Register has up an article with some analysis, which mentions the opinion of at least one attorney whose "reading of the statute [requiring reporting of child porn images] is that it does apply to the Wikimedia Foundation." Update 20100414 5:00 GMT: Larry Sanger has posted a general reply in response to critics of his report to the FBI, in which he addresses the form, content, and motivation of his complaint, and offers some discussion of the relevant statute.
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Larry Sanger Tells FBI Wikipedia Distributes "Child Pornography"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:18AM (#31806414)

    Perhaps a bit offtopic, but noteworthy: The German Wikipedia recently had a vulva image on the main page, as part of "today's article". The article snippet with the image [] (NSFW!).

    This resulted in many complaints and a discussion about morals and Wikipedia. The rationale was that the German article "Vulva []" is featured and purely educational - it has nothing to do with erotics or pornography. Here [] is a 0.5MB talk page about the incident.
    (Posting as a AC, already spent mod points here)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:24AM (#31806452)
    Nice strawman; no one said the internet doesn't have rules, conventions, and standards...
    There are plenty of conventions on the internet, but they are not necessarily tied to those of any particular physical society.

    Here's some reading material for you: The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

    "We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonwealth, our governance will emerge.
    Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions.
    The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule.
    We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis.
    But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. " []

  • Re:Categories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:26AM (#31806472) Homepage

    The great thing about (moral) standards is that there are so many to choose from.

  • by muridae (966931) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:37AM (#31806522)

    You have to remember, the tricky thing about morals is that 'mine are always right'. Almost every sociology 101 course has to devote a huge amount of time just getting people to admit their own ethnocentrism, much less acknowledge that other people have values that are right for their culture. However, it is the government's job to legislate, if not morality, socially agreed norms. One could even say that legislation against murder is a moral legislation, if someone wanted to carry the argument that far. And I know one sociology professor who probably would, if not just to annoy his students. It seems that our culture has come to view the internet as our own. It follows that, if it is ours, then the internet must play by our rules. Circular logic says that, since we have used our laws to enforce our views on the internet already, it must be our own to legislate further. Bad logic, but the cynic in me says that the same logical problem pervades more of our culture than just the way we deal with the internet.

    I do agree with you, that anyone harming a child deserves to be caught. I, personally, feel they should be shot on sight. The problem, for my opinion, is what constitutes harm? Given the way our society has come down strongly against child porn and abuse, what harm is done after the fact to the children involved? How much of a role does the stigma of being abused, and the ostracization that follow, play in the development of the children involved? And how can we, as a society, justify 'think of the children' when we so blatantly do not think of them at all after the 'bad guy' has been put away?

  • Re:Categories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wizard Drongo (712526) <> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:43AM (#31806540)

    And of the course the entire world uses the US system of justice.

    Wish we did actually. Here in Scotland, any picture which depicts an act in which a child is sexually active, or is witnessing sexual acts or involved in any way, can be deemed child pornography.

    Only in the UK would a stick drawing of lisa simpson watching marge fuck homer land you in jail!

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:03AM (#31806612)

    No, but it should NEVER be criminal to indulge and satisfy in whatever fetish you have so long as it is victimless and harmless to real people. Problem with hysterical pedohunters is that they don't care how their actions actually affect children. They are simply out for blood because it's their fetish, just like spanish inquisition was. The whole lolicon issue is one brilliant example of this - why should anyone care if someone masturbates to an image of a drawn child? If that gets his/her kicks so that the person can be a normal productive member of society, all's good, or at least should be good - no child is ever harmed, and the person has taken care of his/her urges. Yet modern pedohunters would love to string every single one of these people from a nearest flagpole inspite of them posing zero real threat to the children. At the same time, it's a known fact that those who are most anti-[issue] people tend to have extreme fetishes themselves, and typically perform and support witch-hunt style actions to cover their own "shameful" fetishes. Great example of this are some of the most hardline anti-gay activists who come out of the closet later in their lives.

    Finally there is a lovely issue of children as sex objects which many love to deny ignoring the cold and brutal medical facts and often their own experiences as parents. Every parent knows that children discover their sexuality long, long before teenage starts. Explaining to your child why masturbating in public is inapproproate when he/she is around age of 4-5 is fairly typical - it's just that in "this is shameful" families it's done in such a traumatizing way for the child, that child gets too afraid to explore it any further before teenage hormones kick in. This is stuff that's widely known in medical community. In fact, there are medical books who mention sexuality in babies - for example babies "humping" their bed covers because it feels good. Before the concept of "morality" kicks in, children sexuality is typically ignored, and is considered "acceptable if shameful" by most.

    You have to remember, if you're close to someone who is actually working with real pedophiles who have actual victims, your view is very strongly skewed, same as a police officer's who's working in slums. You tend to see the worst in people because you're used to seeing worst in people. Not because it's actually there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:17AM (#31806660)

    blah blah blah i'm so persecuted because i'm completely fucked in the head and want to fiddle with little black boys blah blah blah poor me

    Seek psychological help now before you destroy some kid's life.
    Signed, everyone who isn't a creep hated by society

    You probably don't have the intelligence or reasoning ability to realize this, but you just helped to validate my statements regarding the moral panic regarding the issues of pedophilia and those people (like Larry Sanger and yourself) who obviously think about children more than I do. The funny thing is that while I try to keep an open mind, it's people like you who accuse people of engaging in the sexual fantasies that pop into your head. It's sort of like the sex abuse counselors who told the police that children where involved in "satanic sexual abuse" []. Of course this was all in their perverted anti-pedophile imaginations, which were invented by "child advocates", police investigators and therapists. Funny thing is you can find this article on Wikipedia as well. Lets not mention all those Catholic priests and Right Wing religious evangelists who preached against sex... I can presume that this is (probably) an example of what Dr. Larry Sanger doesn't want people to know about, because it doesn't validate his anti-pedophile advocacy.

    While the "child advocates" use such propaganda terms as "child sexual predator", "glorification of child pornography", "sex abuse" and the like to describe ANYTHING that THEY think makes children sexual, the rest of us quietly realize that yes indeed children do have sexual organs and sexual feelings, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is the people who are demonizing these children who should be closely monitored; not the people who don't have a moral issue with children and sex. It's the fanatics and the morally righteous that we need to worry about. And the ignorant. Ignorance is the greatest weapon of the fanatic, which is usually why they are enthusiastic supporters of censorship, and why their arguments are based on ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies and propaganda techniques instead of knowledge and reason.

    For good measure, and because I'm in a good mood, I'll specifically state that I have no interest in children, child porn etc (usually I'll just let people believe in their own biases and delusions about me without reproach). I DO however have an interest in logic and morality, which is what compels me to post on these morally dubious topics. I always find great disappointment in the intellectual dullness of people that just because I make points about an issue, that necessarily I have some self-interested political agenda, like when I talk about legalizing heroine or marijuana people (erroneously and stupidly assume) that I am a marijuana smoker. Same with all issues really. I suspect (and hope) this is only because "advocates" and moral evangelists are attracted to these types of discussions rather than the fact that people (like you) in general are just stupid. I can only hope.

    I base my ideas and beliefs on Logic, Reason, and Knowledge. I usually find most people base their opinions and folklore and populism.

  • Re:Categories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:28AM (#31806718)

    Even more hilarious that around the same time Media Markt instituted the rule that everybody must show ID for age verification, no matter how old they appear. So we can trust people's judgment on pictures enough to determine guilt but not in real life?

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:39AM (#31806772)

    The madness with legislating morality goes far deeper than that.

    I've talked to people who honestly believe that it's right that teenage girls should be arrested, sent to prison and put on the sex offenders register for life because they took photos of themselves with their phone cameras.
    The reason: "What if a pedophile got hold of the images..." "...internet..." "...pedophiles..." "zzzt zt" *brain shorts out*
    They honestly believe the possibility of a pedo getting hold of a phone cam picture of you is more harmful to you than years in prison and getting classed right alongside rapists.

    As for the murder- the whole euthanasia debate is based around that one so I'd class the problem not as legislating morality but rather legislating choice. "no you can't ever choose that no matter what because we think it's bad for you and to make the point we're going to punish you so badly that it ruins your life and the lives of everyone around you"
    Weather it's applied to sick people who wish to end their own lives or to teenagers who snap photos of themselves.

  • Re:Categories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:46AM (#31806802)

    Provided you're not trolling, I'd like to ask how you'd cover those anime characters that look young but are "hundreds of millions of years old!" or some variation according to canon.

    The question then becomes, are we banning those with the *appearance* of children from pornographic material or banning the idea of children being exploited.

    The second, I'd say, is far more important. But then the question continues further as to exactly which point a child can be considered developed enough, mentally, to make decisions about their sexuality. In most of the world we've set up semi-arbitrary values which are reflected in physical appearance (puberty). As such, for someone lacking the proper appearance, we make the assumption that they lack the mental faculty to properly understand their actions.

    So, if a cartoon character is stated to be older, acts in a mature manner, and shows all signs of being a rational, intelligent adult *except* in terms of physical appearance, would porn of that be child porn or not? I suppose in this case you'd have to argue as to the intent of the author and so on?

  • Re:Categories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smchris (464899) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:00AM (#31806852)

    We're _decades_ into thought crime within current generations:

    1) Started with narcs looking for dealers.
    2) If it was good hunting dealers, wasn't it good hunting users?
    3) If undercover worked so well for drugs, why not expand it to other areas like burglary and car theft rings?

    I wonder whether it was prostitution where the line was first crossed into temptation:

    4) Why should we spend time busting prostitutes when we can pose as prostitutes and bust clients?
    5) Why not set up our own fencing operations to catch burglars?
    6) Why not set up our own kiddie porn sites? We can offer genuine confiscated kiddie porn either as downloads or send them by post for extra client criminality.
    7) But that's so passive. Why not pose _as_ kids and troll for child molesters?

    I'm sure in all these cases officers can come up with examples of "good work" where they imprisoned repeat offenders. But from a sociological viewpoint, America has become a very strange place where it is the government's job to entice "those so inclined" into crime. Do we have any idea of the cultural fallout from this shift and can it casually be assumed to be all good?


  • Re:Categories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:37AM (#31807412) Homepage

    Yes, but just try to apply the moral standards of say Germany or Holland over here in North America. They seem to be much better adjusted about human sexuality over in Europe. In North America (Canada/US) we are positively out to lunch about sexuality, and completely accepting of violence.
    Its okay for a child to watch someone get murdered on TV, but considered completely unacceptable if they should see a naked breast - let alone a naked human body.
    I recall a woman in a local coffee shop, unobtrusively deciding to breastfeed her baby - and some American tourists got up and complained to the management - even though she was not in their view unless they strained to look. I was shocked anyone would object to breastfeeding, not that she was doing it (what could be more natural?).
    I think our whole western culture has gotten so grossly twisted up over issues of sexuality that it gives rise to a lot of our problems. Granted there has to be some limits - Pedophilia is a great example, completely unacceptable - but we seem intent on enforcing limits that are very very extreme in a lot of cases, and yet, as I said above, we gloss over violence in film and television and accept it as perfectly natural and acceptable.
    Christianity is at the heart of the matter in my opinion. Our currently accepted moral standards are based on a religion that most of us ostensibly Christian people pay no heed to.

  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:50AM (#31807494)
    I'm fairly sure having a dick in the ass isn't comfortable for the receiving party.
  • Re:Categories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:51AM (#31808346)

    The great thing about (moral) standards is that there are so many to choose from.

    ... but only MY religion/race/communities moral righteousness are the divine/correct ones. And since we have the reins of power, thou shalt yield to our moral will come law of the land. /sarcasm. As the thorough research of Bob Altemeyer discovered:

    What makes authoritarian followers? Altemeyer suggests that the “social learning model of aggression” explains authoritarian aggression in high RWAs. The model is basically fear plus a trigger, in this case self-righteousness.

    Thus in the experiments done on this subject, if you know how highly people scored on the Dangerous World scale, and if you know how self-righteous they are,you can explain rather well the homophobia of authoritarian followers, their heavy-handedness in sentencing criminals, their prejudices against racial and ethnic minorities, why they are so mean-spirited toward those who have erred and suffered, and their readiness to join posses to ride down Communists, radicals, or whomever. (p. 57)

    He also offers a personal-development model of overall high-RWA characteristics. “I have discovered in my investigations that, by and large, high RWA students had simply missed many of the experiences that might have lowered their authoritarianism” (p. 61). Altemeyer doesn’t rule out a genetic component to being a high RWA, but he suggests that life experiences that reinforce the correctness of authority and offer few chances to question received truth are responsible for the development of high RWA characteristics.

    Some characteristics of high RWAs. Altemeyer has found that people who score high on the RWA scale tend to also have the following characteristics:

    1. Illogical Thinking
    2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds
    3. Double Standards
    4. Hypocrisy
    5. Blindness to Themselves
    6. A Profound Ethnocentrism (“Authoritarian followers are highly suspicious of their many out-groups; but they are credulous to the point of self-delusion when it comes to their in-groups.” p. 90)
    7. Dogmatism: The Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense

    Right-wing authoritarianism and religion.

    The first thing you need to know about religious fundamentalists, in case you haven’t inferred it already, is that they usually score very highly on the RWA scale. A solid majority of them are authoritarian followers. (p.111)

    Altemeyer sees religious fundamentalism as “a template for prejudice,” and not surprisingly, fundamentalists exhibit the same kinds of cognitive and ethical problems as high RWAs — a disregard of standards of reasoning and evidence, mental compartmentalization, hypocrisy, dogmatism, etc. This chapter is where the careful groundwork of earlier chapters really pays off — Altemeyer makes a convincing case that religious fundamentalism feeds its followers right-wing authoritarian attitudes.

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:21PM (#31809088) Homepage Journal

    Making murder illegal because it is theft of someone's property (their life) is different from because it is "immoral". Discuss.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:32PM (#31812240)

    This only follows if the only way to obtain money is to mug someone for it. Sort of by definition, it is not possible to produce (actual) child pornography without abusing a child. It is possible to hold a legal job and obtain money that you can then give to someone that asks for it.

    Not so. For example, consider this:


    Tilt your head to the left, and it's a crudely drawn ascii naked woman with her tongue hanging out. Albeit one without arms

    =p-8-D - "Hi, my name is Cindy Brady and I'm 8 years old"

    This is the same picture, except it's labelled as under 18. That is literally the only difference, but that label makes it child porn as defined and prosecuted in the US and UK, among others.

    You sir, are in possession of child porn. I don't think anyone here is seriously claiming that it's ok to rape 6yo kids and sell copies of the tape, pay per view or whatever. The argument is whether drawing the little mermaid/s clam shell bikini top falling off is reason enough, all by itself, to send someone to jail and make them a social pariah for decades.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington