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Wikipedia might close shop in India!

Wikipedia, wikimediaFor every detail of someone or the other, we refer to Wikipedia though we do not know what is going on behind the scene.

In the fear of the Indian government’s drafted provisions related to regulating the internet, Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that hosts and operates Wikipedia has expressed fears that it would become difficult for the company to run the free knowledge-sharing platform. In terms of the total number of users, India accounts for the fifth-largest market for Wikipedia. The free knowledge and information sharing platform was visited 773 mn times by Indians in 2019.

Talking on the subject, Wikimedia’s senior communications director Anusha Alikhan said that the company is structured by individual languages, not geographies. She also highlighted that removing content from one country and allowing the same in the other doesn’t fit with Wikipedia’sways of working. “We can’t restrict changes inside a Wikipedia article from being visible in one country and not another,” she added.

According to the drafted provisions, internet companies will have to take off their online content within 24 hours on the government’s request. Once flagged, these companies will also have to even share crucial information within 72 hours to the government.

These rules also make it mandatory for internet companies to leverage automated tools to detect and remove any content which promotes illicit information. As these laws will force Wikimedia to file its content, the company has now raised its concerns. “The automated filtering of user uploads, either explicitly or implicitly,” Anushka added.

Wikimedia has also pointed out that the drafted intermediary liability rules that make it mandatory for all internet companies having over 5 mn users from India to set up their offices in the country will also pose difficulties for the company to operate in India.

Wikimedia legal director Stephen LaPorte said that if the government passes drafted intermediary liability rules, then it would take a significant amount of effort and resources to comply with the draft and keep Wikipedia in operation.

Wikipedia is a multilingual online encyclopedia created and maintained as an open collaboration project  by a community of volunteer editors using a wiki-based editing system. It is the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web and is one of the most popular websites ranked by Alexa as of January 2020. It features exclusively free content with no commercial ads.


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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