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It took nine years for the Delhi Police to figure out that incorrect information about former President Pratibha Patil on a news portal had been borrowed from Wikipedia. But since data logs are not maintained for more than one year, police now have no way of knowing who uploaded the incorrect information on Wikipedia in the first place. These admissions are part of a closure report, recently filed by the Cyber Cell of the Economic Offences Wing, in a case from 2009, when the media adviser of Patil had filed a complaint about the website, which incorrectly claimed, among other things, that the former president had married thrice.
According to police, the case was registered under IPC Section 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) on October 24, 2009, after police received a complaint from the media adviser Nitin D Wakankar.
“In his complaint, Wakankar told police that a mischievous/incorrect item related to Patil had come to light after they saw an article titled ‘First Indian Woman President — Pratibha Patil’ on a news portal. The name of her father, as well as that of her husband, were incorrect. So was the name of the college from where she completed her MA,” police said.
The matter was discussed with G S Sharma, the technical director of the National Informatics Centre (NIC), who suggested that such matters should be immediately brought to the notice of her secretary, and they should inform the DCP (cyber cell).
“A complaint was lodged on July 6 and a probe started, during which police came to know that the news portal was operated by a Bangalore-based company, and information related with the login IPS, details of the person who placed the article, as well as date and time of creation of the link was collected from the company concerned,” police said.
Police found during investigation that the profile of the article’s author was later deleted. “Police issued a search warrant against the company and conducted a raid, but could not find any digital evidence,” an officer said.
The persons allegedly responsible for writing/uploading the wrong information told police that details were based on information available on Wikipedia. “Police then discovered that the company had not created the content, but had taken it from Wikipedia. Police later sought information from Wikipedia, but the company asked for a Letter Rogatory to provide the information. The content was uploaded on Wikipedia in 2007 and the logs are not retained beyond one year by the internet service provider, as per guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ,” police said in their report.
In the closure report, police said it was unable to ascertain who uploaded the information, and if any clue presents itself in future, the case would be reopened.