FBI Goes After Wikipedia Over Seal

Site won't back down, refuses to remove image
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2010 2:02 PM CDT
FBI Goes After Wikipedia Over Seal
Hopefully the FBI won't sue us too, for showing this image of the FBI seal hanging in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquarters in Washington.   (Getty Images)

The FBI has sent a letter to Wikipedia complaining that it violated federal law by showing an image of the FBI seal on its page. “Whoever possess any insignia … or any colorable imitation thereof … shall be fined … or imprisoned … or both,” the Bureau wrote, quoting from the law. The government’s lawyers say Wikipedia’s use of the seal is “particularly problematic” because it could cause “unwitting violations of restrictions by Wikipedia users.”

But Wikipedia’s lawyers tell the BBC that the FBI has “misquoted the law,” leaving out a bunch of important words like “intent to deceive.” The law is intended to guard against persons posing as FBI agents, or otherwise falsely claiming FBI authority. “We are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia,” the lawyer replied to the FBI, adding that the company is “prepared to argue our view in court.” (More Wikipedia stories.)

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