Analyzing Accessibility of Wikipedia Projects Around the World

73 Pages Posted: 25 May 2017

See all articles by Justin Clark

Justin Clark

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Rebekah Heacock Jones

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

This study, conducted by the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, analyzes the scope of government-sponsored censorship of Wikimedia sites around the world. The study finds that, as of June 2016, China was likely censoring the Chinese language Wikipedia project, and Thailand and Uzbekistan were likely interfering intermittently with specific language projects of Wikipedia as well. However, considering the widespread use of filtering technologies and the vast coverage of Wikipedia, our study finds that, as of June 2016, there was relatively little censorship of Wikipedia globally. In fact, our study finds there was less censorship in June 2016 than before Wikipedia’s transition to HTTPS-only content delivery in June 2015. HTTPS prevents censors from seeing which page a user is viewing, which means censors must choose between blocking the entire site and allowing access to all articles. This finding suggests that the shift to HTTPS has been a good one in terms of ensuring accessibility to knowledge. The study identifies and documents the blocking of Wikipedia content using two complementary data collection and analysis strategies: a client-side system that collects data from the perspective of users around the globe and a server-side tool to analyze traffic coming in to Wikipedia servers. Both client- and server-side methods detected events that we consider likely related to censorship, in addition to a large number of suspicious events that remain unexplained. The report features results of our data analysis and insights into the state of access to Wikipedia content in 15 select countries.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Justin and Faris, Robert and Heacock Jones, Rebekah, Analyzing Accessibility of Wikipedia Projects Around the World (May 2017). Berkman Klein Center Research Publication No. 2017-4. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2951312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2951312

Justin Clark

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Robert Faris (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Rebekah Heacock Jones

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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