Wikipedia says it will not comply with UK Online Safety Bill’s age checks

Wikimedia UK states that the policy goes against their commitment to minimal data collection, while the government claims only high-risk services for children will be subject to the bill’s strictest rules.

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The Wikimedia Foundation, which supports the Wikipedia website, stated that it would not comply with any age checks required by the UK’s Online Safety Bill, as it would go against its commitment to minimal data collection. However, some fear that this could result in the site being blocked.

The bill, expected to come into force in 2024, requires tech companies to protect users from harmful or illegal content, with age verification for services likely to be accessed by children. Wikimedia UK is concerned that certain material on Wikipedia, such as educational content about sexuality, could trigger age verification and that compliance would require a major technical systems rework for compliance. 

The government contends that this requirement would be aimed only at services that pose the highest risk to children and that Wikipedia is unlikely to fall under the bill’s most stringent rules. The foundation, in turn, calls for the same approach followed by the EU Digital Services Act, which distinguishes employee-driven centralised content moderation and the community volunteer model by Wikipedia.