by David Wolinsky
The FBI, having just discovered this thing called "the Internet," recently sent the Wikimedia Foundation a letter threatening legal action if Wikipedia refuses to remove an image of the bureau's seal on the FBI's entry by mid-August.
Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel Mike Godwin shot back a ballsy note insisting the FBI’s reading of the law it cited is both "idiosyncratic… and, more importantly, incorrect [PDF]," which is pretty cold coming from Wikipedia…
"Badges and identification cards are physical manifestations that may be used by a possessor to invoke the authority of the federal government. An encyclopedia article is not. The use of the image on Wikipedia is not for the purpose of deception or falsely to represent anyone as an agent of the federal government."
Just so we’re straight on this: One of the biggest intelligence agencies in the world was unaware that it could simply take down the logo itself from Wikipedia if it so desired. Also, yes, Wikipedia just corrected the FBI — and cited its sources.
It seems the FBI still has a ways to go in being a responsible Internet entity, though: It hasn’t yet connected the dots between the kids’ section of its website with a make-your-own-badge kit complete with the offending seal and the rise of people impersonating FBI agents.
Tags: FBI, Wikipedia