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Submissions/Voluntary Disclosure: Balancing privacy and protection

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Voluntary Disclosure: Balancing privacy and protection
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
James Alexander
E-mail address
Country of origin
United States
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The Wikimedia Foundation has a strong commitment to user privacy and protecting private information from the demands of others. Our privacy policy, and the legal team's corresponding procedures for requesting user information, give very strict rules that need to be followed in order to release information. These rules are applied equally: to the long term user who’s done nothing but attract attention from a corporate interest to a troll or clear bad faith editor. The rules are applied equally for everyone.

The vast majority of requests that we receive for personal information are denied; even the rare court demands that we are forced to comply with are generally only complied with after the legal team has spent days, weeks or months of work narrowing them to the smallest amount of data (and the smallest group of users) possible. The Community Advocacy team, however, coordinates some exceptions to this rule. Circumstances exist where we will not only give personal information to the authorities but will do so proactively and quickly, bringing the issue to their attention along with all the information or assistance we can provide. Some of these circumstances are legally required and some, we believe, are morally required but all of them involve a very careful balancing of privacy and protection.

In this presentation there will be:

  • A quick overview of what we consider personal information and how we protect it from normal demands.
  • An explanation of occasions where we will give information out proactively or without a court order including threats of harm to self or others.
  • A discussion about some of the internal and external training we do to keep team members on the same page and how often we disclose compared with how often we get reports.
  • "That in between place" circumstance where we will proactively warn law enforcement of something that happened on wiki, but not turn over private information without a legal order.
  • Time for questions and answers about the process and future plans.
Legal & Free Culture
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
60 minutes preferred
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Hopefully :)
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
Preference for somewhere that has a hand held or clip on mic (so that I don't have to be behind a lectern).

Interested attendees

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  1. Panyd (talk) 18:18, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. CT Cooper · talk 22:56, 10 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 05:28, 26 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Rdicerb (WMF) (talk) 02:17, 23 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. --アンタナナ 23:30, 22 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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