Wikimedia Foundation releases third transparency report

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1280px-Neutral_density_filter_demonstrationThis report demonstrates the Foundation’s continuing commitment to openness and transparency. Photo by Robert Emperley, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce the release of our latest transparency report. Transparency is one of Wikimedia’s core values, and we are committed to communicating clear and accurate information about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to our user community.
In August 2014, we published our first transparency report, which detailed the number of requests we received to disclose user data or alter or remove content from the Wikimedia projects between July 2012 and June 2014. We updated the report in April 2015 with new data, real-life examples of the types of requests we receive, and additional categories such as “voluntary disclosures” and “right to be forgotten” requests.  We are happy to continue this tradition with our latest update, covering January to June 2015. During this time, we received 234 alteration or takedown requests and 23 user data requests, none of which we granted.
In summary, the report tracks five key data points:

Content alteration and takedown requests. None of the 234 general content removal requests we received during this time period were granted. Nine of the content alteration or takedown requests we received came from government entities. In general, we receive relatively few content removal requests because members of the Wikimedia community work hard to address any concerns relating to content accuracy and compliance with project policies. When we do receive takedown or alteration requests, we push back to ensure that Wikimedia platforms remain open, neutral, and uncensored, so that the community can decide what content belongs on Wikimedia projects.

Copyright takedown requests. During this period, Wikimedia received 21 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests and granted only three (14.3%) of those requests. Wikimedia users play a critical role in monitoring content to ensure copyright compliance; as a result, we receive very few DMCA requests compared to other technology companies. All DMCA requests that we do receive are thoroughly evaluated to determine whether the request is valid, whether the content is in fact infringing, and whether any legal exceptions (such as fair use) may apply.

Right to be forgotten. Wikimedia received four requests for content removal based on the “right to be forgotten,” and did not grant any of those requests. For more on the right to be Forgotten, we invite you to read our statement opposing the scope of the relevant European Court opinion and its implications for free knowledge.

Requests for user data. Wikimedia is strongly committed to protecting user privacy. None of the 23 user data requests we received (including informal government and non-government requests, one criminal subpoena, and one court order) resulted in the disclosure of nonpublic user information. Each request we receive is carefully reviewed to ensure that it is legal and complies with our stringent standards. Even if a particular request is valid, we often do not have any information to provide; we collect little nonpublic user information, and retain that information for a very short time.

Voluntary disclosure. On rare occasions, the Wikimedia Foundation becomes aware of concerning information on the projects, such as suicide or bomb threats. Consistent with our privacy policy, in these cases, we may voluntarily provide information to the proper authorities in order to resolve the issue and ensure safety. Between January and June 2015, we made 14 such disclosures.

This report also features story highlights from this period and provides answers to many frequently asked questions. We invite you to consult the full report to learn more about our efforts to protect user privacy and maintain the integrity of the Wikimedia projects at
Aeryn Palmer, Legal Fellow*
Jim Buatti, Legal Fellow
* This transparency report would not have been possible without the help of many individuals, including Moiz Syed, Michelle Paulson, Geoff Brigham, Prateek Saxena, Dhvanil Patel, Lexie Perloff-Giles, Jacob Rogers, James Alexander, Christine Bannan, Arielle Friehling, Alex Krivit, and the entire Communications Team.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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