Internet │ Politician shuts down www.wikipedia.de

15 November 2008 │ Corrections: 16 November 2008

Correction: according to media reports, the point of dispute was not that Mr Heilmann had worked for the Stasi, about which he has lied in the past, but false statements in his Wikipedia entry on his academic qualifications and businesses he was involved with previously. This entry has been altered to accommodate recent reports and information.

Lutz Heilmann, a member of the German parliament (Bundestag) for the Left Party and who was officially employed by the Stasi between 1985 and 1990, has caused controvery over his injunction to prevent www.wikipedia.de from being redirected to de.wikipedia.org. So if you type in www.wikipedia.de, then you will see the following screen:

Wikipedia screenshot

As long as certain passages in his entry remain on de.wikipedia.org, then www.wikipedia.de cannot be redirected to de.wikipedia.org. But the entry on Mr Heilmann can still be found at de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutz_Heilmann, since Wikimedia Foundation is "a non-profit charitable corporation organized under the laws of Florida, USA" (Wikimedia FAQ), therefore the content and the subdomain de.wikipedia.org are outside German jurisdiction. (Disclaimer: I have no legal training so my comments on different jurisdictions may be wrong.)

Anyway, it was a pointless exercise because of its inefficacy, as well as a disproportionate reaction, and it has not endeared him to many Wikipedia users. As the page history shows, there was a lot of re-writing and there were allegations that he may have been involved in many. Wikipedia probably would lock the page: why didn’t Mr Heilmann ask for that, instead of going to the courts and using such a blunt instrument?

Mr Heilmann has since declared his dispute with www.wikipedia.de over, however, redirect is still not taking place (last checked 14:45 GMT, 16/11/2008).