Talk:Legal/Statement on France
This is a very good statement to make and I'm sure the community will appreciate being kept in the loop; congrats to the Legal team for taking this position with the issue, and publicising it. Daniel (talk) 21:42, 6 April 2013 (UTC)
Handling requests for removal of classified information
If a national intelligence agency asks for the removal of statements or an article about one of its military installations, it is best to remove it before trying to discuss what sort of article would be acceptable. If the intelligence agency of a nation were to specify what information was classified, that would point out to agents potentially opposed to the interests of that nation just what information is sensitive and defeat the nations purposes in classifying the information. Give the intelligence agencies a break. If there is any possibility that revealing information might harm the interests of a nation, follow the request to remove information. Also, do not make trouble for yourselves. - Fartherred on English Wikipedia Fartherred at hours on the of June 2013 (as verified on my talk page)
- In the article it is clearly stated that any sensible content removal request has to be transferred to the Foundation, and only to them. An institution should never ask something like that to a contributor, nor should the contributors do anything, except contact the Foundation.
- If the agencies want "a break", then they have to follow the rules. Darkdadaah (talk) 15:01, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
- In the article it is clearly stated: "On 4 March 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation (the “Foundation”) was contacted by the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (“DCRI”), a French intelligence agency. The DCRI claimed that the article fr:Station hertzienne militaire de Pierre-sur-Haute on the French language Wikipedia contains classified military information and that publication of such information violates French Penal Code, Article 413-10. The DCRI demanded removal of the article in its entirety without any further substantive explanation.
- "We requested more information from the DCRI, such as which specific sentences or sections they believed to contain classified information."
- Failure to cooperate at that point and the request to know which specific sentences contain classified information demonstrate either a fundamental ignorance of security concerns or an intention to act against French interest and continue publishing sensitive information. I find French action in contacting a "sysop" living in France completely unsurprising. The foundation's attitude could scarcely have been worse if they had replied that the foundation is beyond the reach of French law and further requests must be made in person by a French ambassador in the kneeling position. The idea that a French security agency must follow some set of arbitrary rules made up by the Wikimedia Foundation is patently absurd.
- This failure to assume good faith on the part of the foundation certainly has gone a long way in failing to win friends. I expect that security agencies world wide have taken note of the foundation's attitude. Following on-line community rules is a fine thing as a guest on a web site, but eventually one must recognize the rules of the real world. - Fartherred on English Wikipedia Fartherred at 05:47 hours on the 23rd of June 2013 (as verified on my talk page)
- The idea that a French security agency can do anything to Wikimedia is patently absurd. Wikimedia is under no obligation to act in favour of 'French interest' and cannot be prevented from publishing sensitive information. They didn't just "contact" this sysop, they threatened him with legal action if he did not do as they wanted. The sysop wasn't even responsible for the content. The foundation requiring the agency to demonstrate which information is sensitive is not unreasonable - you cannot expect it to just censor pages at the command of any security agency, especially one that cannot even legally force it to do so.
- No one should ever "assume good faith" of such a request, and WMF does not need to be "friends" with government security agencies - in fact as far as I'm concerned that would be a very bad thing. It doesn't matter what security agencies think of the foundation's attitude. Their attitude is good as far as I'm concerned, unlike yours. There is no 'rule of the real world' that I'm aware of that enables anyone to force WMF to attempt to hide information. --Krenair (talk • contribs) 11:20, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
- Perhaps you are aware of the legal theory that any member of a group committing a crime is liable to prosecution for every crime committed during some incident such as being liable to prosecution for murder if someone in the group killed someone during a theft perpetrated by the group. There is nothing to prevent France from prosecuting the entire Wikimedia Foundation in abstentia for a crime involving the criminal publication of some information. Anyone living in France with the ability to remove criminally published information is subject to prosecution if they cooperate with the publication of the information to the extent of not removing it. Those found guilty in abstentia would not be jailed until they moved into a French controlled area. You write: "WMF does not need to be 'friends' with government security agencies". If WMF chooses to make enemies it might learn that friends would be worth more. Do you suggest that WMF could publish anything the United States might think is illegal and not have its computers confiscated?
- Since you write such brave words, I guess you are not planning an air trip that stops in any French territory. I prefer the advice of Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel (WMF): "... be mindful of the laws governing the jurisdiction(s) to which you are subject." - Fartherred on English Wikipedia Fartherred at 14:43 hours on the 23rd of June 2013 (as verified on my talk page)
- Darkdadaah wrote: "If the agencies want a 'break', then they have to follow the rules." referring to WMF rules. It is absurd to expect the nation of France to follow the rules of WMF.
- I am not sure that a French citizen Wikipedia administrator could be found guilty of publishing classified information for his refusal to delete it, but it seems the case could be brought to court. It seems unfair to the French Wikipedia administrator, and counter-productive, but I do not think the agents who pressured the French citizen Wikipedia administrator will be charged with a crime for what they did. The main question is how to handle these situations in general. WMF cannot expect to supercede intelligence agencies in deciding what is classified nor expect intelligence agencies to point out exactly what sentence must be removed to remove classified information. I believe that WMF should in general remove information about military assets the owner country wants to have removed. What sort of exceptions there ought to be is too difficult a question for me to know. I think of an article that would expose wrong-doing on the part of military personnel and at the same time refer to military assets. A request to remove information might be motivated by the desire to hide wrong-doing. Clearly this gets beyond my depth. - Fartherred on English Wikipedia Fartherred at 20:49 hours on the 29th of June 2013 (as verified on my talk page)
- Kenair wrote: "The idea that a French security agency can do anything to Wikimedia is patently absurd." No one suggested that a French security agency can do anything to Wikimedia. A security agency can demand the compliance with French law making it a crime to publish certain classified information which can interfere with the military forces accomplishing their mission. That is completely reasonable. The competent authority to decide what information about a military installation is classified information is the security agency, not WMF. Once informed that publishing certain material is a violation of French law, the continued publication of that material would make WMF subject to criminal prosecution which could occur at any time that a WMF member enters French controlled territory or is extradited.
- For perspective, the French military carried out operations in Mali recently in which hundreds of people died, mostly the islamist militants. Making military decisions that involve the deaths of numbers of people is a difficult matter. France decided not to allow islamist militants to force sharia on residents of Mali, willing and unwilling alike. Making a decision to prosecute or not prosecute Wikepedians of the WMF is difficult for a different reason. Wikipedia has significant public support and apparently stumbled into a violation of French law in ignorance. There is good reason to give WMF time to comply.
- Krenair wrote: "...you cannot expect it [WMF] to just censor pages at the command of any security agency, especially one that cannot even legally force it to do so." Security agencies can do a great deal, especially when based in a country that has an extradition treaty with the country in which WMF is located. France can be careful and deliberate but tolerance is not unlimited. - Fartherred on English Wikipedia Fartherred at 14:51 hours on the 24th of June 2013 (as verified on my talk page)