Military radio station of Pierre-sur-Haute and wikipedia

So basically the French analogue of MI5 (DCRI) decided that there was something in the French version of the article that was classified and pressurised an admin into deleting it. Fuller story at:

http://blog.wikimedia.fr/dcri-threat-a-sysop-to-delete-a-wikipedia-article-5493

The article has since been undeleted and translated into a number of languages and people are making comments about the probably overrated Streisand effect. Unless there are further developments things have probably settled down for now.

There are however a number of questions. The most obvious being what was the classified information that DCRI were worried about. There’s nothing particularly obvious. Sure it has some involvement with France’s nuclear weapons command and control system but the rather banal information in the wikipedia article doesn’t exactly compromise that. Its possible we are dealing with a situation similar to the one where the existence of the BT Tower was nominally classified and some bureaucrat has taken that a bit far. Still the level of resources used would suggest that we are dealing with more than a single low ranking bureaucrat. Another possibility is that the photo gives something away about the station’s abilities but photos are available from other sources. For the more paranoid (there is an intelligence agency involved) the suggests are that it was either an attempt to confuse other intelligence agencies (although it seems unlikely that they would threaten a civilian with arrest to do that) or an attempt to test a method of removing information from wikipedia.

It should probably be said that the French appear to be far more ready than some to get the police involved with trying to deal with material on wikipedia. Florence Devouard got called in to see the police over a matter involving copyright back in 2008.

As a tactic it may be effective in wikipedias that cover a language which is only really spoken in one country but for more widely spoken languages you are going to tend to hit the problem that there are admins that live outside your jurisdiction.

Strangely at the same time as this has been going on another state has been trying to control the content of wikipedia. In this case it is Russia and it is using the long standing and fairly conventional method of threatening to block the project entirely. I feel that their motivations are also rather more transparent.

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