Wikivoyage talk:Illegal activities policy

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See also: Wikivoyage talk:Illegal activities policy/Archive

Policy changes?[edit]

I'd say info on A'dam coffee shops should obviously be in any travel guide. The mere fact that we are having this discussion indicates the need for a policy change.

As I see it, the same is true for the sex tourism policy. current policy my proposal. I'd say the illegal activities policy needs a rewrite along similar lines. Pashley (talk) 04:04, 25 September 2012 (CEST)

One change that should be made is to emphasize that we only allow warnings about activities that are illegal and do not allow info on how to accomplish illegal activities. This is currently accomplished in the final paragraph:

Wikivoyage articles should avoid giving information about illegal activities that is useful only to those seeking it and which is not motivated by safety concerns, for example, giving information about the standard price and quality of illegal drugs or about the identities of specific dealers. (Followed by an example)

This idea should be expanded and, especially, needs to be its own header. There should also be another example or two. Another thought about this policy is that there may be a couple times where an activity is generally legal worldwide, is illegal in the particular destination, but accomplishing the activity may be very beneficial to travellers. (Sorry, I have a hard time putting this concept clearly into words) An example of this would be trading currency with moneychangers in places where blackmarket trading is illegal, yet black market moneychangers proliferate and enforcement of these laws is lax. Or the use of VoIP software. In such a case, the fact that this activity is illegal should be stated.

Yet another thought relating to this topic is where there is conflicting legal standards. Hopefully this doesn't become another marijuana thread (see above), but in the US, the states of Colorado & Washington recently approved measures to allow the legal use of marijuana. However, per federal law (I'm no lawyer, but this should trump local law), the sale/use of marijuana is illegal, and federal authorities have been lax in enforcing the law in states where marijuana has been allowed for "medicinal use" for a few years. So, imagine a traveler travels to such a state and encounters dealers selling or people consuming marijuana, should Wikivoyage simply state "marijuana sale/use is illegal" or should policy be something along the lines of fully explaining the legal status/enforcement/what to do if in legal trouble (the latter is my preference).

We should also ask Wikimedia's legal department for guidance or commentary on our "illegal activities" policy.AHeneen (talk) 03:28, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Policy for underground clubs/Speakeasies[edit]

The Stockholm article has had a section about illegal underground clubs. [1] In my opinion, the text passage should be deleted because it does not provide the reader with useful information. (Paraphrase: "Illegal clubs exist, but you first need to go to a legal club, and then acquaint other guests, who maybe know how to find them.") However, since establishments without legal sanctions exist all around the world, Wikivoyage should have a universal policy for what information to provide. /Yvwv (talk) 20:14, 13 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Your point is well taken. What policy would you suggest? Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:50, 13 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Some countries don't even really have the legal architecture for this question to make sense. In those that do, I think mentioning that "a big part of X city's music scene is rooted in the DIY, temporary, performance spaces of sometimes questionable legality..." would be fine. Leaving out further information on how to find such spaces is probably best, if only because it's kind of rude to "out" them. I'm not sure how illegal it is to "go" to underground venues, as opposed to operating them—and that all probably depends on the country. --Peter Talk 08:47, 14 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Of those who contributed to the Stockholm and Sweden articles on Wikitravel, many seemed to be Swedish people who tried to push a political agenda, unrelated to the goals of a travel guide. Some of them have been exaggerating the crime rate, blaming the immigrants. Some claim that hard drugs are commonly accepted (because that is their private opinion), and others want to undermine Swedish alcohol laws and ordinances, by encouraging underground clubs. Apparently Wikivoyage:Be fair needs to be addressed. /Yvwv (talk) 16:39, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Policy for tax evasion[edit]

Another issue with a text passage in the Stockholm article, which encouraged travellers to hire cabs off the record.[2] In my opinion, Wikivoyage should not encourage travellers to evade taxes, fares or fees which are accepted by the local community. While cab fares in Stockholm are high, and overcharging is a problem, neither illegal cabs nor illegal rides in regular cabs solve the problem, and public transport is the best option for a traveller on a short budget. /Yvwv (talk) 16:15, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Mentioning that gypsy cabs are common would be OK, but actually recommending them, or advising on how to get them, shouldn't be per this policy, unless they're more common than official cabs. --Peter Talk 19:38, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
We seem to have an agreement, then. A city where authorized cabs are hard to find, and a gypsy cab would save the day, could be another issue. For some reason, the Stockholm and Sweden articles have had a lot of text about crime and illegal activities, not proportionate to everyday life in Sweden. Is this the case with other cities and countries? /Yvwv (talk) 21:35, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply


Is the article Urbex compatible with this policy? /Yvwv (talk) 05:26, 5 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

I think it may at least require editing to excise the section on infiltration. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:42, 5 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
I don't think it gives any advice on how to infiltrate anything. The legality of exploring abandoned stuff is usually pretty gray, in the absence of no trespassing signs. --Peter Talk 06:06, 5 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Not in the UK it isn't. The general view I've heard from people that do buildings/site investigations semi-professionally, is that you ALWAYS get a permission from the site owners first. This has become even more important in the current heightened security climate.ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 12:41, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
So one change that could be made to the article would be to specify that urbex is illegal in the UK unless you have written permission. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:35, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Well, it's slightly more complex than it being a straight illegal/legal. The need for landowner permission is to do with not being suspected of being somewhere "with intent to commit other offences" so to speak. ShakespeareFan00 (talk) 09:26, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
I think we have similar problems with the article. It's dealing with a shady area. I don't think it has to be deleted, but I think the cautions in it should be more emphasized. Ikan Kekek (talk) 09:31, 31 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Illegal advertisements on the Tourist Office[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Someone recently posted an advertisement for counterfeit identification documents and counterfeit money on the Tourist Office. I'm pretty sure such an activity is illegal to some degree. The edit was reverted within minutes, but the user hasn't been blocked. Shouldn't they be? And if such activity indeed is illegal, can this be reported to the police? The poster did even provide contact information, with a telephone number, a Skype account and a free Yahoo e-mail account. JIP (talk) 18:47, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply

At the very least, the user should be indefbanned and the edit should be made invisible. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 23:19, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply
Yes Done without prejudice to any further action others may feel needs to be taken. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 23:36, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply
The last para at War_zone_safety#Kidnapping.2Fabduction discusses "camouflage passports". Is that a violation of this policy? Pashley (talk) 15:34, 27 December 2014 (UTC)Reply

Advice on political protests[edit]

User:Yvwv posted the following. I appreciate his motivations for posting this, but I think we should discuss this before changing the article:

No advice on political protests[edit]

Wikivoyage does not give advice for participation in political protests. A traveller might take part in political activities, for instance when studying abroad or doing LGBT tourism; however, protests are not within the scope of Wikivoyage. Though peaceful assembly is a cornerstone of an open society, the readers and administrators cannot possibly make an objective decision whether some method of protest is safe, legal, or morally acceptable, at some given place, or at some given occasion.

My observation is that while we indeed would never presume to advise travellers on what method of protest might be safe (safety is really never guaranteed at a protest, as regardless of laws that might theoretically protect protestors, the police might attack, or one protestor or agent provocateur might use violence and provoke a violent response), we do indeed sometimes advise visitors to avoid areas of cities where protests are taking place, either because the demonstrators might be hostile toward them or because the police or security forces might attack bystanders along with demonstrators. So I don't basically disagree with this text that I preliminarily reverted, but I do think we need to be careful in how we phrase this, and also that there should be discussion, perhaps for several days or more, before text like this is put into the article. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:21, 8 January 2015 (UTC)Reply

As for other things that are illegal in some places — prostitution, homosexuality, alcohol, cannabis, other drugs, ... — I do not think we should either try to provide a how-to manual or clutter the site with Captain Obvious stuff.
As for them, our main concern should be traveller safety. Warnings about risks that are either particularly high or not what travellers might expect are necessary. We warn homosexuals or drug users about countries with harsh laws; of course we should do the same for activists. Pashley (talk) 10:15, 8 January 2015 (UTC)Reply
"You might get in trouble for demonstrating in a foreign country" is kind of captain obvious. So how would you suggest phrasing this, if indeed we put it in the Illegal activities policy page, which I question. Ikan Kekek (talk) 10:18, 8 January 2015 (UTC)Reply


Swept in from the pub

Hail travelers,

I’ve just written an article on coca, as it’s an unavoidable and unfamiliar part of travel to the Andes, and of wide use and interest to travelers. As coca leaves (and tea, etc.) are legal per the local laws, my understanding is that this is squarely within the bounds of Wikivoyage:Illegal activities policy: it does not facilitate or promote any illegal activities, and in fact helps prevent unintentional illegal activities, like naively bringing home coca tea.

Due to the possible sensitivity, I’m posting here for discussion; is this ok? (…and edits welcome! Currently working on it.)

—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 02:59, 12 October 2015 (UTC)Reply
It's more than OK: It's an excellent article already, and indeed interesting. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:56, 12 October 2015 (UTC)Reply
The Kola nut is another example of a "drug" that is traditionally used, and typically offered to village chiefs by travellers going through the Dogon Country. Syced (talk) 03:25, 13 October 2015 (UTC)Reply

Black market[edit]

So what about the black market in currencies, e.g. that of Venezuela? IIRC the article says something along the lines of "though technically illegal, everybody does it and prizes are based on you doing it" Should we change policy or the article? Hobbitschuster (talk) 01:38, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

There are places where going by the letter of the law means you are a sucker. I experienced this in China in 1987 (things are very different now), when I, too, traded FECs (Foreign Exchange Certificates, then the convertible Chinese currency) for Renminbi (then non-convertible) on the street in 3 different cities at about 150-160 RMB per 100 FEC. We certainly wouldn't want to be in the position of taking responsibility for anyone's fate if officials suddenly decide to crack down on them, but I'm guessing that advising people to avoid the "parallel market" in countries like Venezuela is somewhat analogous to telling visitors to New York that they should never even think of jaywalking because it's an infraction (irrelevant), rather than that they might want to be cautious about jaywalking because they might not have the skill to judge oncoming traffic and could get hit (relevant). I think the main problem with Venezuela#Money is that the section hasn't been updated since 2013, but perhaps a disclaimer should be added: "Although dealing with parallel traders at the tourist rate is highly unlikely to get you into trouble, do keep in mind that any trading in the parallel market is illegal, and consider this fact while making your own judgment." Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:55, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
Though according to this article, we should never give anyone any advice about black-market trading:
This policy is intended to be applied against the laws local to a destination, as well as ordinances and house rules at specific venues. From this follows that articles should not give advice for:
   [...]obtaining or providing goods, currency or services on the black market
Just how strict are we supposed to be? Should we also scrub all articles clean of remarks about counterfeit goods, such as you can get in many, many places? Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:58, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
The current policy states that we shouldn't scrub information about activities that travelers are likely to encounter, but we also shouldn't promote those activities. If there is a black market for currency exchange, particularly if it's one travelers are known to use, make clear that it exists and what the potential penalties might be. -- Ryan • (talk) • 05:27, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
But does recommending for people who want to use the parallel economy in Venezuela to use the "tourist rate" that can be obtained pretty safely constitute "promoting" it? It's information that's useful to their safety. I guess I don't fully understand what "promote" means, given that the don't tout policy prohibits promotion of all legal businesses, anyway. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:38, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
One of the two examples currently on the policy page is the following:
Explaining the risks involved in exchanging money on the black market, but also explaining how to minimize the risk of being ripped off or arrested
In this case, I think the right solution is to make clear that there is a black market and that travelers use it because they get better rates, but that it is illegal and what the consequences of using it might be. -- Ryan • (talk) • 06:29, 6 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

Instructions for bypassing Internet censorship?[edit]

Swept in from the pub

We have Wikivoyage:Illegal activities policy, which says that we should not advise travellers to break local laws. How should we categorize advise for bypassing Internet censorship? Recent example /Yvwv (talk) 22:58, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Is it illegal according to local laws to access those sites? If the Turkish (or Chinese or whoever) government mandates local ISP's to block Facebook, is it actually illegal for an individual to still attempt to access?
Maybe from personal experience, but I used to edit Facebook whilst in China via a machine hosted in the United States. I'm guessing that wasn't illegal, although the great Chinese firewall would have liked to prevent it. Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:13, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
The nice thing is the governments normally do not want to tell what they censor, so they prefer avoiding explicit law. Accessing certain types of content, as well as bypassing firewalls, may still be forbidden. You would probably need a local lawyer to know the limits. --LPfi (talk) 08:46, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
In South Korea it is actually illegal to access North Korean websites (or websites run by organisations affiliated with North Korea). In this case it is just part of an established 'no contact with the enemy' law that has been in place for 50 years. Information about this law is pretty public and well known from school.
In China the websites censored by the government are not even officially acknowledged, and it is hard to determine who has the actual list. It isn't illegal to try and access site X, but the content you are accessing may be. Andrewssi2 (talk) 09:08, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Access in China through a local IP may be blocked but using a smartphone with a non Chinese SIM card allows access to most. --Traveler100 (talk) 09:16, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
Is it more a question as to how things are phrased rather than what is actually being said. In the linked example, the but being questioned text said You can also use a VPN-Client like Cyberghost [3] to bypass the blocks. The feature "Secure Wi-Fi" is usable for free on mobile devices. which is advising on how to get past governemnt blocks (which may or may not be legal/illegal I've no idea). But re-phrase it to Use of a VPN-Client like Cyberghost [4] could bypass the blocks. The feature "Secure Wi-Fi" is usable for free on mobile devices. and you are making a statement of fact rather than giving advice or suggesting anybody do anything illegal; in fact you could interpret the alternative phrasing as a warning. PsamatheM (talk) 13:09, 29 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
I think Wikivoyage:Illegal activities policy is really for clear black and white vices (drugs, prostitution, etc) and not for vague civil law infractions such as taking an Uber and using AirBnb when your city doesn't allow it. Using Twitter in Turkey, would for me, fall into the latter category and therefore we shouldn't concern it. Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:17, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
I'm not quite sure I agree with your way you seem to think taking a substance that happens to be locally prohibited is worse than using AirBnB or Uber against local (or even nationwide) law. There are some pretty good reasons for disallowing entire blocks to be turned into de facto hotels whereas I personally cannot see any harm coming to anybody but the person taking a substance, if said substance were not illegal. But let's not get sidetracked with political discussions. It seems to me, that we might wish for some more clarity on our illegal activities policy where it comes to stuff like the black market, internet censorship, substances where they are and aren't prohibited and such like. Hobbitschuster (talk) 17:21, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
This is actually a very good point, User:Hobbitschuster: some criminal activity poses little harm to others (some drug use, smuggling Bibles into certain countries, taking photographs, etc.) but may have extremely serious penalties. —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:50, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply
The point gets rather hairy when we're talking about stuff that is legal in one place but not in another. Should we inform people on where to light up in Denver? What about a quiet evening beer in Mecca? What about the technicalities of it all? Is weed actually legal in the Netherlands? Which precise definition of legal should we follow? I can see a certain emotional argument in favor of trying to "punish" governments that restrict wikimedia projects by pointing out how such restrictions can be avoided. But I am no legal scholar. Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:38, 30 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

Child protection policy[edit]

This wiki has almost no provision for protecting children from nefarious adults. Our illegal activities policy only applies to travel guide content, and the sex tourism policy has a different scope such that it can't cover all aspects of the issue.

I therefore propose that we import the Child protection policy in use on Meta and on English Wikipedia, among others. In a way, this is a non-proposal, as I rather assume everyone will be in favour, so I'd rather the discussion focused on whether to import it verbatim, or whether there are any changes that should be made to tailor it to Wikivoyage.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 13:23, 22 February 2020 (UTC)Reply

Looks good to me. Pashley (talk) 14:34, 22 February 2020 (UTC)Reply
Support Ground Zero (talk) 14:44, 22 February 2020 (UTC)Reply
I am generally in support of this. The policy on Meta refers to the Terms of Use, which apply here, and are a blue link at the very bottom of this page, so this is already largely covered. Are you proposing a new page, or a paragraph on this page? We have difficulty in identifying editors as children, so the "Never give out personal identity information" should probably apply to all editors. AlasdairW (talk) 22:14, 24 February 2020 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for the comments so far.
@AlasdairW: I propose a new page, pretty much like the example I linked to.
"Never give out personal identity information" is advice, not policy. We can't stop adults giving out personal information online if they want to and at any rate adults are expected to be able to do so with discretion (Alasdair...W), whereas children might not be savvy enough to know when it's appropriate or how much to share. As you say, it can be difficult to 'recognise' editors as children, but if an editor does out himself as a kid and give out personal information, we can revision delete.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 13:46, 25 February 2020 (UTC)Reply
It seems reasonable to import the language wholesale. I can't imagine what we would want to change. Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:16, 25 February 2020 (UTC)Reply
Right, let's get this knocked on the head. By this time tomorrow, there will have been a week since I opened this discussion and posted the RFC. There has been no-one arguing against the creation of this page, so unless someone comes forward in the next 24 hours, I'm going to plunge forward.
@AlasdairW: As the only one to raise any questions, do you have anything further to add following my reply? --ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 11:58, 2 March 2020 (UTC)Reply
I am happy with a copy of the policy on Meta, with project name changes of course. AlasdairW (talk) 20:06, 2 March 2020 (UTC)Reply

Thanks again for everyone's support, the policy is now live at Wikivoyage:Child protection policy, so any further comment should be directed to that talk page.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 20:27, 3 March 2020 (UTC)Reply

Endangered species[edit]

Swept in from the pub

What are our policies on listing locations that contain populations of endangered species? Is this OK, or are editors encouraged to avoid it? The place I'm planning to list is a temple in South Korea that is one of the only places in the country where the endangered wild ancestor of the common city pigeon can be found. It already sees quite a few visitors so it's not like it is an untouched area. Passengerpigeon (talk) 09:07, 16 June 2020 (UTC)Reply

I'm not sure that we have a policy on that. The only thing I can think of that might be relevant is the WV: Illegal activities policy; if it's forbidden to enter a particular reserve or to disturb a certain animal, then we should say so, and certainly not give advice on how to circumvent the laws. That possibly doesn't apply in the case of the pigeons. Aside from what policy says, I'd encourage you, if you can, to include any information that tells travellers how to be responsible around the rock doves and how to minimise their impact on the local environment.--ThunderingTyphoons! (talk) 09:28, 16 June 2020 (UTC)Reply
Alright then, Cheonansa will get a mention. Responding to your concerns, these birds are A) no strangers to human contact, living in a monastery, and B) pigeons, so I think they'll be fine. Plus, maybe I'm overestimating the number of potential visitors who see them as more than just flying rats... Passengerpigeon (talk) 04:22, 17 June 2020 (UTC)Reply