'Vicious' edits to PAP's Wikipedia page

MP says there's a need to check legal recourse 

A People's Action Party MP has said there is a need to check what legal recourse exists for the "vicious" edits made to its Wikipedia page.   

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng spoke out after a user of the website changed the name of the party to "Party Against People" and added lines such as "down with the fascists" and "vote for Opposition" into the text.

According to the page's publicly available editing history, the user who first made the changes appeared to have done so on Wednesday afternoon under the name "AlikVesilev".

The user claimed that "proof of (the PAP's) suppression of freedom of speech" was demonstrated by the sacking of blogger Roy Ngerng by Tan Tock Seng Hospital this week, a move later backed by the Ministry of Health.

Mr Ngerng is being sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation over a blog post about the Central Provident Fund.

The free online encyclopaedia, which is edited in collaboration by its members, addressed a note on the site to AlikVesilev about the June 11 edits, which it said "appear to constitute vandalism".

The edits were apparently still live online as of 1pm yesterday before the page was reverted to its previous version.

Mr Baey told The Straits Times yesterday that the PAP first discovered the modifications yesterday morning. The party tried to re-edit the page but noticed that "a few Wikipedia accounts were furiously doing edits as well".

"Wikipedia has made it clear that these edits constitute vandalism and they are certainly not something we would condone or support," said Mr Baey.

"Whether any legal action can be taken is something we need to consider. We need to look at whether there is indeed any legal recourse for us. Ultimately it is quite a vicious attack."

Mr Baey said the PAP "respects that Wikipedia is an open source platform and anyone with an account can go in and do edits, but there is a certain expected code of conduct on Wikipedia and this is certainly not acceptable". He added that the party had not decided whether to make a police report.

Lawyer Choo Zheng Xi, from Peter Low LLC, said he did not think the edits constituted a criminal offence, and that "it would require an extremely expansive reading of the Vandalism Act for this to qualify".

Lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, from RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, added that the difficulty in ascertaining criminal culpability could lie in two issues: determining a jurisdiction in which such online actions fall under and defining cyber vandalism.

Singapore's Vandalism Act "is not all-encompassing and right now does not seem to cover such edits to Wikipedia pages", which might come under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act instead, he added. "The biggest problems we have with the Internet now is in defining jurisdiction and enforceability," said Mr Sunil.

"If something is hosted on a foreign server, is it within our jurisdiction? If it is done anonymously, can it be enforced? It is still unclear."