More questions raised on Cabinet Office and Wikipedia
The Cabinet Office is facing fresh questions about dubious Wikipedia edits carried out from the secure Government computer network, after it was found their systems were used to change an article on the Hillsborough disaster.
The Civil Service is "adapting to the use of new media and new technology," a Cabinet Office spokesperson said as it faces fresh questions over dubious Wikipedia edits from the secure Government network.
"But the Civil Service Code applies at all times, and we take breaches very seriously", they continued.
"We have already announced an investigation to examine offensive edits to Wikipedia, and will look at other concerns raised."
The Cabinet Office faces fresh questions about dubious Wikipedia edits carried out from the secure Government computer network, after it was found their systems were used to change an article on the Hillsborough disaster.
An examination of Wikipedia changes made from an IP address allocated to the Government network shows an individual wrote about "killing or enslaving" black people on the entry for Howick Falls in South Africa, and also suggests that black people are uncivilised and believe "hearsay and myth".
The revisions were made in November 2006 but were quickly deleted by a moderator.
In another example, the IT system was used in December 2006 to edit the entry for Manchester to read: "Heralded as the 'w*****s capital of the North'". This change was also reversed by the site's editors.
It may not be possible to identify who used government computers to post "sickening" comments about the Hillsborough disaster, the Cabinet Office has warned.
Officials said the passage of time and number of people using the Whitehall intranet made finding those who edited Wikipedia "challenging".
Relatives' groups and Liverpool-born MP Andy Burnham, a long-term campaigner on the issue, are being drafted in to monitor the investigation, a spokeswoman said. The Liverpool Echo reported revisions to the Wikipedia began five years ago on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, and again in 2012.
The Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "The amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. The behaviour is in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code. It is entirely unacceptable."
The Cabinet Office said it believes "one or two" individuals are behind "sickening" amendments made to the Wikipedia page on the Hillsborough disaster from Government computers, but said it could be "challenging" to identify the culprits.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said:
The amendments made to Wikipedia are sickening. We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness. Our first priority is to establish the facts and to examine the issues raised. Once we have the facts, we will update Parliament with the findings and consider further appropriate action.
At this time, we have no reason to suspect that the Hillsborough edits involve any particular department, nor more than one or two individuals in 2009 and 2012.
As the first incident happened five years ago and there are hundreds of thousands of people on the Government's network, it may prove challenging to identify who was involved. But we are exhausting every option.
According to Barry Collins, a freelance technology journalist, an identifier such as the computer's MAC (Media Access Control) address would be required to find out exactly which PC the Wikipedia edits came from.
A MAC address is a unique code found in computer or networking equipment.
The former editor of PC Pro said:
The edit will show the IP address. That address will likely cover hundreds or thousands of PCs - it's highly unlikely to identify a single computer.