Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security was wrong in using the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as a reference when deciding whether to allow asylum seekers to stay in the United States.
The department used the Wikipedia article named laissez-passer to decide whether the document was a valid form of identification. This is despite the fact that the article had a large orange notice at the top of the article saying that "this article does not cite any references or sources."
The Board of Immigration Appeals has stated that it doesn't "encourage the use of resources such as Wikipedia.com [sic] in reaching pivotal decisions in immigration proceedings." They said that they allowed the decision to stand due to the fact that the information seemed accurate.
The appeals court noted when making the decision that Wikipedia admits that articles will stay inaccurate and unbalanced for long periods of time. Below is the extract from the court documents that makes this point:
Cary Bass, the volunteer coordinator of the Wikimedia Foundation, gave Wikinews the following statement on this issue:
== Sources ==
"Court rules Wikipedia not authoritative" — The Inquirer, September 3, 2008
"Asylum-Seeker Rejected Based On Wikipedia, Appeals Court Reverts" — Wired, September 3, 2008
"United States Court of Appeals" — 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, September 3, 2008
"Laissez-passer" — Wikipedia, June 1, 2008