[WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

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[WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Nathan Awrich
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Orangemarlin#Contacting_people.27s_employers_in_real_life

This is an interesting thread (one of a few on this subject, including
in the Jimsch62 (sp) RfAr) - two editors who are in the military/work
for the US government claim that it is their legal responsibility to
report to the USAF the use of a military PC to edit Wikipedia because
that is a violation of the UCMJ. I'm curious about whether that is
true, and if it is why we don't block .mil IPs from editing en masse.

Mike Godwin, do you have an opinion on this issue?

Nathan

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
Now, I don't know the specifics of whether this particular instance of
someone editing is illegal, but I'm making a general statement on the
issue:

This is not a matter for enwiki ArbCom to decide. For the /last/ time
it is not their job to deal with outside legal issues. If someone is
doing something that is against the law and someone feels compelled to
report them, this should have no bearing on on-wiki activities. If
someone is breaking the law to edit and someone else reports them,
that is their right within whatever jurisdiction they live in. Banning
the reporting editor serves no purpose short of instigating drama. As
highly Wikipedia thinks itself, it isn't above the law, and "Anyone
can edit" hasn't been passed into any constitution as far as I know.

We punish editors for obeying the law? Wow, standards /have/ dropped.

Chad.

On Jan 2, 2008 1:18 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Orangemarlin#Contacting_people.27s_employers_in_real_life
>
> This is an interesting thread (one of a few on this subject, including
> in the Jimsch62 (sp) RfAr) - two editors who are in the military/work
> for the US government claim that it is their legal responsibility to
> report to the USAF the use of a military PC to edit Wikipedia because
> that is a violation of the UCMJ. I'm curious about whether that is
> true, and if it is why we don't block .mil IPs from editing en masse.
>
> Mike Godwin, do you have an opinion on this issue?
>
> Nathan
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Robert Rohde
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich
On Jan 2, 2008 10:18 AM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Orangemarlin#Contacting_people.27s_employers_in_real_life
>
> This is an interesting thread (one of a few on this subject, including
> in the Jimsch62 (sp) RfAr) - two editors who are in the military/work
> for the US government claim that it is their legal responsibility to
> report to the USAF the use of a military PC to edit Wikipedia because
> that is a violation of the UCMJ. I'm curious about whether that is
> true, and if it is why we don't block .mil IPs from editing en masse.
>
> Mike Godwin, do you have an opinion on this issue?
>

In case anyone else on Foundation-l found this summary unclear, it appears
that what is being argued is the following:

Two (or more) individuals who are both enwiki admins and members of the US
military assert that under the US Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
they have an affirmative obligation to report violations of the UCMJ by
other members of the military.

They assert that the actions of another editor, who is believed to be with
the Air Force, violate the UCMJ, both because of personal use of government
computers and other unspecified (at least in what I read) infractions.

By raising the issue of these alleged infractions, and their possible
obligation to report them, these admins have been seen by others as
intimidating/harrassing this user on the basis of off-wiki circumstances.

This case is already moving into arbitration on an expidited basis, largely
because of the perception of harassment.


So the legal question is whether the UCMJ does in fact lead to these sorts
of conflicts of interest and real world consequences.

If it does, the practical question is whether this conflict of interest is
so severe that actions should be taken to limit its impact.  For example, a
draconian approach would be to disallow all editing from .mil addresses
(which is the possibility Nathan suggests above).

-Robert Rohde
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Chad
On Jan 2, 2008 10:45 AM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
> We punish editors for obeying the law? Wow, standards /have/ dropped.

If someone is under a legal obligation to do something, then they
should do it.  We are not even contemplating otherwise.  However,
there are correct ways of handling such an obligation.

-Matt

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
I'm not saying they handled it properly (which they didn't, it's
always best to privately contact an editor first...), but I am saying
that anyone thinking of punishing these editors /solely/ because they
choose to report a (suspected?) illegality occurring on Wikipedia
isn't necessarily acting right either.

If it came down to reporting a crime or losing my editing rights, I
would always choose the former.

Chad.

On Jan 2, 2008 2:00 PM, Matthew Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Jan 2, 2008 10:45 AM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > We punish editors for obeying the law? Wow, standards /have/ dropped.
>
> If someone is under a legal obligation to do something, then they
> should do it.  We are not even contemplating otherwise.  However,
> there are correct ways of handling such an obligation.
>
> -Matt
>
>
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Robert Rohde
> So the legal question is whether the UCMJ does in fact lead to these sorts
> of conflicts of interest and real world consequences.

That's a good question for those under UCMJ jurisdiction. It doesn't
make any difference to the rest of us. I very much doubt the UCMJ
requires anyone to take any particular action on Wikipedia, so there
is no conflict with Wikipedia's policies.

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Chad
If I'm not mistaken, the initial warning was sent to via e-mail - not
on-wiki. Also for clarificiation, only OrangeMarlin is claiming to be
a member of the US military (inactive reserve). Jim is apparently in
the treasury department, which in my mind indicates a separate type of
obligation. I'm also not sure that the point that both editors are
admins is true or relevant.

The issues are:

1) Are we under an obligation to prevent obvious violations of the law
when we are aware of them, as in the case of all military IP edits
being illegal (or some similar situation in another part of the
world).

2) Can editors with an affirmative legal obligation warn other editors
of this obligation and their exposure to it off-wiki? Is there a
difference between warning them on or off Wikipedia?

3) Are the legal claims being made by OM, Jim62sch and others valid
(with respect to their obligation, and the legality of editing by
military IPs)?

Nathan

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Thomas Dalton
> 1) Are we under an obligation to prevent obvious violations of the law
> when we are aware of them, as in the case of all military IP edits
> being illegal (or some similar situation in another part of the
> world).

1.1) Does some random person editing under a pseudonym telling us so
constitute "being aware"?

> 2) Can editors with an affirmative legal obligation warn other editors
> of this obligation and their exposure to it off-wiki? Is there a
> difference between warning them on or off Wikipedia?

If it's off-wiki, I can't see how it's anything to do with us.

> 3) Are the legal claims being made by OM, Jim62sch and others valid
> (with respect to their obligation, and the legality of editing by
> military IPs)?

Would need to ask a military legal expert, I guess.

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Robert Rohde
On Jan 2, 2008 11:28 AM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> <snip>
> > 2) Can editors with an affirmative legal obligation warn other editors
> > of this obligation and their exposure to it off-wiki? Is there a
> > difference between warning them on or off Wikipedia?
> If it's off-wiki, I can't see how it's anything to do with us.



If an editor sends an email with the intent to manipulate the on-wiki
actions of another editor, then it certainly is relevant.  To give a very
simplified example, if MrTroll sends me a death threat via wikimail, I'd
have no qualm with seeing him blocked.

This scenario is less obvious, but at least some people see it as operating
on the same continuum.

-Robert Rohde
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Yaroslav M. Blanter
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
>> 1) Are we under an obligation to prevent obvious violations of the law
>> when we are aware of them, as in the case of all military IP edits
>> being illegal (or some similar situation in another part of the
>> world).
>

In China, editing WP is illegal. Should we also ban edits done by
registered users via proxy-servers if it is known that the user is in PR
China at the time?

I think if we really start doing this we are just going too far.

Cheers,
Yaroslav Blanter


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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
I agree that we shouldn't. Nor should we ban .mil addresses either.
However, actively encouraging editors to break the law in their area
isn't the best way to go about it. I think those that edit Wikipedia
when they shouldn't (be it government censorship, job contract,
military law) are taking an active risk on their /own/ part (and most
of the time, they're probably aware that they're doing something they
legally shouldn't). If someone wants to report someone for breaking
the law, that's their right, and Wikipedia has no role to play in it.

Chad H.

On Jan 2, 2008 3:15 PM, Yaroslav M. Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> >> 1) Are we under an obligation to prevent obvious violations of the law
> >> when we are aware of them, as in the case of all military IP edits
> >> being illegal (or some similar situation in another part of the
> >> world).
> >
>
> In China, editing WP is illegal. Should we also ban edits done by
> registered users via proxy-servers if it is known that the user is in PR
> China at the time?
>
> I think if we really start doing this we are just going too far.
>
> Cheers,
> Yaroslav Blanter
>
>
>
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Thomas Dalton
On 02/01/2008, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I agree that we shouldn't. Nor should we ban .mil addresses either.
> However, actively encouraging editors to break the law in their area
> isn't the best way to go about it. I think those that edit Wikipedia
> when they shouldn't (be it government censorship, job contract,
> military law) are taking an active risk on their /own/ part (and most
> of the time, they're probably aware that they're doing something they
> legally shouldn't). If someone wants to report someone for breaking
> the law, that's their right, and Wikipedia has no role to play in it.

Is anyone actively encouraging breaking the law? If so, that could
well be illegal in itself (inciting criminal activity, or something -
the terminology probably depends on the details of the offence). I
don't know if non-military people can be found guilty of inciting
military people to break military law, but it wouldn't surprise me.

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
In this situation, no. However, it's been brought up in the past in
regards to China. For quite some time, we essentially told them how to
get around the firewall and edit (Advice to TOR users in China or
somesuch page). While it's not saying "go break the law and edit," it
*is* saying "If you want to go break the law, here's how."

Chad

On Jan 2, 2008 3:27 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 02/01/2008, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I agree that we shouldn't. Nor should we ban .mil addresses either.
> > However, actively encouraging editors to break the law in their area
> > isn't the best way to go about it. I think those that edit Wikipedia
> > when they shouldn't (be it government censorship, job contract,
> > military law) are taking an active risk on their /own/ part (and most
> > of the time, they're probably aware that they're doing something they
> > legally shouldn't). If someone wants to report someone for breaking
> > the law, that's their right, and Wikipedia has no role to play in it.
>
> Is anyone actively encouraging breaking the law? If so, that could
> well be illegal in itself (inciting criminal activity, or something -
> the terminology probably depends on the details of the offence). I
> don't know if non-military people can be found guilty of inciting
> military people to break military law, but it wouldn't surprise me.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Nathan Awrich
I think we're getting a little off topic here, and I think its an
issue that is important enough that we should stay focused on the
issues of key importance. Do we have a legal obligation (probably no,
IMHO, but IANAL), is there a policy conflict in this area, is the
obligation purported by these editors a fact? I think non-lawyers can
probably review the second issue, but one and three require legal
assistance in my opinion.

Nathan

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
Has anyone mentioned what portion of the UCMJ this is under? At least
reading it might give us a better idea instead of shooting in the
dark.

Chad

On Jan 2, 2008 3:38 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think we're getting a little off topic here, and I think its an
> issue that is important enough that we should stay focused on the
> issues of key importance. Do we have a legal obligation (probably no,
> IMHO, but IANAL), is there a policy conflict in this area, is the
> obligation purported by these editors a fact? I think non-lawyers can
> probably review the second issue, but one and three require legal
> assistance in my opinion.
>
> Nathan
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Nathan Awrich
OM quoted it I think to MastCell, its mentioned on OM's talk page
(link I provided initially).

On Jan 2, 2008 3:43 PM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Has anyone mentioned what portion of the UCMJ this is under? At least
> reading it might give us a better idea instead of shooting in the
> dark.
>
> Chad
>
>
> On Jan 2, 2008 3:38 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I think we're getting a little off topic here, and I think its an
> > issue that is important enough that we should stay focused on the
> > issues of key importance. Do we have a legal obligation (probably no,
> > IMHO, but IANAL), is there a policy conflict in this area, is the
> > obligation purported by these editors a fact? I think non-lawyers can
> > probably review the second issue, but one and three require legal
> > assistance in my opinion.
> >
> > Nathan
> >
> >
>
> > _______________________________________________
> > foundation-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> >
>
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Chad
Well, if the portion of the UCMJ he was talking about indeed exists
(which I have no doubt, but I'd like to see a "look at article so and
so" from /someone/), then it appears that the law has been broken and
if OM feels obligated to do so, he may do such. How does Wikipedia
have to get involved?

Also, from an outside perspective who hasn't been involved, it appears
to me that Theresa is overreacting a bit considering the
circumstances. OM appears to be (in very good faith) pointing out a
legal issue with a particular editor's editing from a government
computer. Fair enough. He warned him and said that he might
potentially go to his superiors. Ok, still looks good to me. I fail to
see the harassment Theresa is so loudly claiming exists.

Editing Wikipedia is not a right. It is a privilege that can be taken
away by the Foundation (and ArbCom, sysops, etc) or your ISP or your
employer.

Chad

On Jan 2, 2008 3:53 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> OM quoted it I think to MastCell, its mentioned on OM's talk page
> (link I provided initially).
>
>
> On Jan 2, 2008 3:43 PM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Has anyone mentioned what portion of the UCMJ this is under? At least
> > reading it might give us a better idea instead of shooting in the
> > dark.
> >
> > Chad
> >
> >
> > On Jan 2, 2008 3:38 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > I think we're getting a little off topic here, and I think its an
> > > issue that is important enough that we should stay focused on the
> > > issues of key importance. Do we have a legal obligation (probably no,
> > > IMHO, but IANAL), is there a policy conflict in this area, is the
> > > obligation purported by these editors a fact? I think non-lawyers can
> > > probably review the second issue, but one and three require legal
> > > assistance in my opinion.
> > >
> > > Nathan
> > >
> > >
> >
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > foundation-l mailing list
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> > > Unsubscribe: http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> > >
> >
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> >
>
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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Mark
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
Matthew Brown wrote:
> On Jan 2, 2008 10:45 AM, Chad <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> We punish editors for obeying the law? Wow, standards /have/ dropped.
>>    
>
> If someone is under a legal obligation to do something, then they
> should do it.  We are not even contemplating otherwise.  However,
> there are correct ways of handling such an obligation.
>  

It should also not be viewed as a choice whether to "punish" people or
not. The Arbitration Committee is tasked with resolving disputes to keep
the English Wikipedia functioning and serving its mission, not with some
sort of meting out of justice.

It's quite possible that certain people's real-world legal obligations
are simply incompatible with how we'd like English-Wikipedia admins to
act, in which case it's best for everyone involved that they follow
their real-world legal obligations but not be an English-Wikipedia admin
in order to avoid this conflict.

-Mark


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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Chad
Chad wrote:
> I'm not saying they handled it properly (which they didn't, it's
> always best to privately contact an editor first...), but I am saying
> that anyone thinking of punishing these editors /solely/ because they
> choose to report a (suspected?) illegality occurring on Wikipedia
> isn't necessarily acting right either.
>
> If it came down to reporting a crime or losing my editing rights, I
> would always choose the former.
It seems as though you are treating any illegality as a crime.  To me
there is an important distinction between violating administrative
regulations, and serious criminal acts which can do real harm to anybody.

Ec

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Re: [WikiEN-l] Legal obligation to report Wikipedia editor under UCMJ (Mike G weigh in?)

Nathan Awrich
I don't know if its important to this discussion, but the UCMJ is a
class apart from standard criminal and civil law. I imagine they have
some class of civil remedies (fines, surrender of wages, etc.) in
addition to criminal penalties (as opposed to having a type of legal
action that is categorically not criminal), but not being an expert in
the UCMJ at all 'crime' or 'violation' are probably the most accurate
terms.

Nathan

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