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Tue, 08 Jan 2019 09:18:14 -0800

Dear fellow Wikimedians, please sit back for a moment and ponder the following,

For those of us not resident in the US, it has been genuinely alarming
to see highly respected US government archives vanish overnight,
reference websites go down, and US legislation appear to drift to
whatever commercial interests have the loudest current political
voices. Sadly "populism" is happening now, and dominates American
politics, driving changes of all sorts in response to politically
inflated and vague rhetoric about "security" and "fakenews". It is not
inconceivable that a popularist current or future US Government could
decide to introduce emergency controls over websites like Wikipedia,
virtually overnight.[1][2][3][4]

The question of whether the Wikimedia Foundation should have a hot
switch option, so that if a "disaster" strikes in America, we could
continue running Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons from other countries
has been raised on this list several times over many years. The WMF
and its employees are heavily invested in staying in Silicon Valley,
and that will stay true unless external risks become extreme.

However, there has never been a rationale to avoid investing in a Plan
B. A robust plan, where the WMF can switch operations over to a
hosting country with a sufficiently welcoming with stable national
government and legislation, that our projects could continue to meet
our open knowledge goals virtually uninterrupted and without risk of
political control. A Plan B would ensure that if the US Government
started to discuss controlling Wikipedia, then at least that published
plan would be a realistic response. If they tried doing it, we could
simply power off our servers in the USA, rather than compromise our

If anyone knows of committed investment in a practical WMF Plan B, it
would be reassuring to share it more widely at this time. If not, more
of us should be asking about it, politely, persistently but perhaps
less patiently than indefinitely. :-)

1. free online betting
"... this order was designed to empower certain governmental agencies
with control over telecommunications and the Web during natural
disasters and security emergencies."
"The president could seize control of U.S. internet traffic, impeding
access to certain websites and ensuring that internet searches return
pro-Trump content as the top results."
5. Bizarro, as used in the title of this email:


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