US files 105 Wikimedia takedown requests transparency report reveals

Wikimedia, the group responsible for overseeing encyclopaedia site Wikipedia, today announced it has rejected all 304 non-copyright content removal requests, with the US responsible for a third, in a first-of-its-kind transparency report.

Jimmy Wales founder of Wikimedia

Non-profit Wikimedia’s report, which spans the last two years, said most of the requests came from a mix of governments, organisations and individuals. These requests were for content removal or Wikipedia user data.

The US filed 105 takedown requests, Germany had 50 and the UK issued 32, no requests were complied with.

However, some user data requests were granted. The US issued 21, more than double any other country, eight were successful.

France and Germany and the UK posted five, five and four unsuccessful requests respectively.

Twenty eight requests came under the category ‘informal non-government’, fifteen originated from government agencies, eight were civil subpoenas and five were criminal subpoenas.

The encyclopaedia site, which is dependent upon freedom of speech, evaluates every request and fights those it finds invalid or unlawful.

Wikipedia did remove 24 items it deemed in breach of copyright, 41 per cent of the requested amount.

An odd copyright claim came from a photographer who had a monkey take selfies with his camera. The pictures were published by newspapers and shared on creative commons, so Wikipedia denied his copyright claim.

A further request came from a Tasmanian aboriginal language centre which demanded the removal of a page about the ‘palawa kani’ language. Wikipedia argued that copyright law cannot be used to supress full languages.

The foundation said: “The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply committed to supporting an open and neutral space, where the users themselves decide what belongs on the Wikimedia projects.

“Our mission is to provide free access to the sum of all human knowledge. We believe that protecting user privacy and defending against censorship are essential to the success of that mission.”

It finished: “Every year, we receive requests from governments, individuals, and organizations to disclose information about our users or to delete or alter content on our projects. Some are legitimate. Some are not.”

This comes as the organisation's founder Jimmy Wales recently expressed concerns regarding Europe's 'right to be forgotten' legislation.

The non-profit Wikimedia foundation was established in 2003.

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