Sex, censorship and the Net

There's a war going on between wannabe Web cops and those who like their Net unregulated. Is Internet censorship inevitable? Cringely exposes his thoughts.

But that image, well... it is troubling, even if "the girl, when we met her 15 years later, had no problem with the cover" (according to an article cited in the wiki).

I'm uncomfortable endorsing any form of censorship. At the same time, I think Wikipedia could have easily blacked out parts of the image without damaging the article's impact, or even hid it behind a warning screen that required a second click. News organizations do this sort of thing all the time. It's an editorial decision, which Wikipedia geeks make thousands of times each day.

To me the most shocking part was not the image itself, but who insisted on it in the first place: executives at the Scorpions' record label, RCA. Per guitarist Rudolph Schenker:

"We didn't actually have the idea. It was the record company. The record company guys were like, "Even if we have to go to jail, there's no question that we'll release that."

The group ultimately had to pull the original album cover and reissue a tamer one. But imagine the unbelievable firestorm that would erupt if somebody tried to do that today.

Who's right? Should wikis voluntarily censor themselves? Is this all much to-do about nothing?

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Robert X. Cringely

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