Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/10/wikipedia_french_base_censored/

French spies do a Barbara Streisand over secret nuke radio base

Sacrée vache! Violoneux-wiki ont laissé échapper le force de frappucino

By Jasper Hamill

Posted in Government, 10th April 2013 09:05 GMT

A Wiki page about a French military base has gone viral after Gallic spooks tried to censor it.

French internal spies at the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur called in a volunteer Wiki editor to their Paris office and ordered him to spike an entry about the Station hertzienne militaire de Pierre-sur-Haute, a military radio base in central France.

The volunteer, named in the French media (en Francais) as Pierre-Carl Langlais, a 30-year-old curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, quickly agreed to their demands even though he did not write the original entry.

However, despite his warnings on a discussion thread that anyone who reposted it would be "engaging in criminality", the page was quickly uploaded again by another Wikimedia volunteer before being translated into several languages.

The page, which apparently contains very little (or nothing) in the way of sensitive information, had been almost unvisited up to that point.

Following its reinstatement by enraged French Wiki users the page received 120,000 views over the weekend of 6/7 April, according to some reports.

The case has been hailed as an example of the Barbara Streisand effect, a phenomenon observed when the singer tried to remove a photo of her house from public records. Rather than disappearing, the image was then widely published around the world.

A Wikimedia statement said: "The Foundation takes allegations of national security threats seriously and investigated the matter accordingly.

"However, it was not readily apparent what specific information the DCRI could consider classified or otherwise high-risk. Without further information, we could not understand why the DCRI believes information in the article is classified."

According to Wikimedia, "almost all of the information in the article is cited to publicly-available sources", much of it gleaned from a television interview with Major Jeansac, the officer commanding the station, in which he showed a reporter around the base.

The Pierre-sur-Haute base is thought to be a link in the communications chain for France's nuclear deterrent. France operates a flotilla of four Triomphant-class nuclear ICBM submarines, similar to Blighty's Vanguard class vessels, as well as a force of Mirage M-2000N jets armed with standoff nuclear weapons.

Do you know why the spooks were so keen to keep this Wikipedia entry out of the public eye? Get in touch with El Reg and tell us. ®