Why Wikipedia Opted for SSL and Why All Pages Should Do It

Why Wikipedia Opted for SSL and Why All Pages Should Do It pixelwork

Why Wikipedia Opted for SSL and Why All Pages Should Do It

Wikipedia Opted for SSL

Wikipedia Opted for SSL

It's no secret that Google has been working hard to see making websites safe, with ranking boost HTTPS to encourage more sites to opt for it.

Jimmy Wales was interviewed recently and has contributed some of his own thoughts on why encryption is so important, and gives insight into why more webmasters should do it. And in fact, he also wants to see every site encrypted.

He feels it is crucial for newspapers in order to support freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

If you are a newspaper that cares about freedom of expression, it is probably not good to allow the Maldivian government to rate certain people in their communities based on the news they read, and if you are not secured by encryption you are allowing this to happen – It is a very important point

New York Times published an op-ed last year encouraging news sites to opt for the https protocol, although ironically, they still don't use it.

Along with news, being secure with encryption means that the government cannot know what articles people within their country are reading. This was actually a driving force behind the decision because Wikipedia opted for SSL.

A common misconception is that SSL is only important when a website is handling private data, however this was not the reason why Wikipedia opted for SSL, but so that governments with poor human rights records would know when citizens were reading controversial or anti-government articles and imprisoning them as a result.

It may seem like something out of fiction, but Wales insists that this situation happens, and says he is aware that some Wikipedia editors are being affected.

Pages cannot be selectively blocked

Another thing that people might not be aware of is that HTTPS means that certain pages of a site cannot be blocked. So a country wouldn't be able to censor specific results from a page.

This is also the reason why Wales believes China blocked Wikipedia again, since they could no longer censor specific pages on the site to citizens.

The reason for this sudden re-blocking is likely to be that under SSL, China would not have the option to selectively block certain Wikipedia entries: this forces the country to take an all-or-nothing approach.

Being secured with SSL means that they can see that a person is on Wikipedia, but They are not unable to determine which items they are actually visiting.

With https, the only thing the Chinese authorities can see today is whether you are talking about Wikipedia or not, they cannot see the pages you are viewing, which means they no longer have the ability to filter page by page, for example. So they can't simply block the “Tiananmen Square” article, says Wales. Now they have a very stark choice: the entire country of China can do without Wikipedia, or they can accept the entire country of Wikipedia.