French Homeland Intelligence Threatens A Volunteer Sysop To Delete A Wikipedia Article

Press Release | Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimédia France | April 6, 2013

Wikimedia France strongly condemns pressure on Wikipedia sysop by French homeland intelligence agency (DCRI)

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Paris, Saturday 6 April 2013 −

In early March, the DCRI (Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur) contacted the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization which hosts Wikipedia. They claimed that an article on the French-language Wikipedia about a French military compound contained classified military information, and demanded its immediate deletion. The Wikimedia Foundation considered that they did not have enough information and refused to grant their request.

The Wikimedia Foundation has often collaborated with public authorities to follow legal decisions. It receives hundreds of requests every year asking for the deletion of articles, and always complies with clearly motivated requests.

Unhappy with the Foundation’s answer, the DCRI summoned a Wikipedia volunteer in their offices on April 4th. This volunteer, which was one of those having access to the tools that allow the deletion of pages, was forced to delete the article while in the DCRI offices, on the understanding that he would have been held in custody and prosecuted if he did not comply. Under pressure, he had no other choice than to delete the article, despite explaining to the DCRI this is not how Wikipedia works. He warned the other sysops that trying to undelete the article would engage their responsability before the law.

This volunteer had no link with that article, having never edited it and not even knowing of its existence before entering the DCRI offices. He was chosen and summoned because he was easily identifiable, given his regular promotional actions of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in France.

Wikimedia France cannot understand how bullying and coercitive methods can be used against a person dedicated to promote the freedom and knowledge. As Wikimedia France supports free knowledge, it is its duty to denounce such acts of censorship against a French citizen and Wikipedia editor.

Has editing Wikipedia officially become risky behaviour in France? Is the DCRI unable to enforce military secrecy through legal, less brutal methods?

Let us remember that the article has been available for many years without raising any problems until these last few days.

Intimidation is not the right way to enforce military secrecy in France, and the Internet is not a place that has to be regulated in such a brutal manner. We believe the DCRI has other ways to enforce the law. We hope that an independent investigation will clear up the recent events. France is a legal state, where national security should not be ensured through such measures.

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About Wikimédia France
Wikimédia France is a charity which supports the Wikimedia projects in France. Wikimedia does not host nor edit Wikipedia: if some members are also Wikipedia contributors, the charity never intervenes in Wikipedia. It is independent from Wikimedia Foundation.