International Herald Tribune, Technology and Media
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: A Dutch company that sells computer voting machines is the latest suspected of revising unfavorable information about itself on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Anyone can edit Wikipedia and there is nothing illegal about changing an entry, but it's considered poor etiquette to alter information on one's own entry, to one's own advantage, or in a misleading manner.
Nedap NV is one of Europe's largest makers or electronic voting machines and software, selling systems in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United States.
Someone used a company computer on Feb. 6, 2007, to remove negative information about a pilot project Nedap conducted in Italy and replace it with favorable information.
It's possible to see that because Wikipedia preserves a record of the exact time and the IP address — the numerical identifier of each computer on the Internet — used to change an entry.
The Wikipedia entry on "Electronic Voting" was altered by a computer with an IP address assigned to Nedap.
Originally it read that "Italy experimented in the 2006 elections with electronic voting machines from Nedap, but decided against it, believing that voting physically is less easy to falsify."
The user at Nedap changed that to read:
"Italy experimented in the 2006 elections with electronic voting machines from Nedap and the pilot went very well."
Nedap did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, those and other changes by the same user generally favorable to Nedap remain on Wikipedia.
Nedap is only the latest in a string of organizations and people detected editing Wikipedia in a potentially embarrassing manner that have been reported around the globe in the past month after a U.S. graduate student developed a tool dubbed the "Wikiscanner" to more easily track the source of changes.
The Dutch organization "Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet", an anti-computer voting organization, found the Nedap alteration using Wikiscanner and sent out a press release to Dutch media.
Spokesman Rop Gonggrijp said he had decided to check out whether there were any alterations made by Nedap after hearing reports that someone using a computer at Diebold Inc., a U.S. competitor of Nedap, had been detected by Wikiscanner deleting negative information on the Wikipedia Diebold entry two years ago.
"I thought: let's see if our Dutch company has higher standards. Apparently not," Gonggrijp said.
Others revisionists recently detected by Wikiscanner include politicians, the Church of Scientology and members of the European nobility.
On the Net:
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com