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Friday, October 12, 2007

Interesting Wikipedia-Related FOI Lawsuit in Arkansas

Two Associated Press journalists sued Arkansas officials Friday for allegedly violating the state's Freedom of Information Act by withholding information about which government computers were used to edit entries on Wikipedia.

AP Arkansas News Editor Kelly P. Kissel and reporter Jon Gambrell filed the lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Gov. Mike Beebe, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and officials with the state's Department of Information Systems.

The lawsuit asks the court to order state officials to reveal the physical locations of five computers that were used while editing information about politicians on the popular online encyclopedia that allows anyone to submit or make changes to articles.

In August, Gambrell reported that state computers were used to edit information about Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Beebe and others. Using a Web site called WikiScanner that tracks changes to Wikipedia, Gambrell could see that the edits were made by computers with numeric Internet addresses assigned to the state.

Huckabee's entry was changed to delete information about a controversial pardon and his frequent use of a state-owned airplane while Beebe's was changed to eliminate an inaccurate reference to his having a male "life partner" rather than his wife Ginger.

Officials, however, refused to say which agencies or offices are assigned to the numbers and have said hackers could use the information to attack the state's computer system.

More here.

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