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Howard's staff accused of editing Wikipedia

Australian Prime Minister's staff is accused of editing entries from the website to remove details that might be damaging to his government.

world Updated: Aug 24, 2007 21:33 IST

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's staff was on Friday accused of editing entries on the Wikipedia website to remove details that might be damaging to his government.

A spokesman for Howard, however, said the Prime Minister had not ordered any changes to Wikipedia entries.

"The Prime Minister did not ask any of his staff or his department to make any changes or edits to Wikipedia," he said.

However, the Australian media quoting 'WikiScanner' reported that people using Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM and C) and Defence Department computer servers had made changes to Wikipedia articles.

The changes were made to articles on issues like the children overboard affair, the Australian Defence Force Academy and removal of a claim that Treasurer Peter Costello was known by the nickname "Captain Smirk".

There were over 2,000 government employees with access to the PM and C servers, Howard's spokesman was quoted as saying.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said that there was nothing wrong with the political staff making factual changes to Wikipedia entries, but public servants should not do so.

"On Wikipedia anything can appear," he told the Seven Network. "It is entirely legitimate for your personal political staff to make changes of a factual nature, but to engage public servants to go out there and re-edit history, it strikes me as odd to say the least."

The Defence Department has blocked employees from altering information on Wikipedia after 5,035 edits by defence staff were detected. "Defence has closed personal edit access down, though employees will still be able to browse Wikipedia for information purposes," a defence spokesman was quoted as saying.