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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
WTO falls victim to spoof website
Anti-WTO protests in Seattle
The WTO has found itself the target of protesters in the past

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has found itself on the receiving end of an elaborate internet hoax.

A group of anti-WTO campaigners, with a history of lampooning free trade, have used an internet site purporting to be the WTO's own to issue a statement that the organisation is being disbanded.


Despite the name [the Yes Men] they are men and women, who describe themselves as a network of impostors

The internet site concerned is very cleverly designed to look like the WTO's one. It even uses as its address the name of the WTO's predecessor organisation, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt).

A statement on the site says that current trade liberalisation rules have led to increased poverty and inequality and have eroded democratic principles - so the WTO is being disbanded and replaced by a new organisation called the Trade Regulatory Organisation.

Fake conference delegates

It is of course not true, but it has prompted the WTO to issue a statement warning journalists not to be taken in.

The group behind the hoax are called the Yes Men - despite the name they are men and women, who describe themselves as a network of impostors.

Spoof page
The page mimics the WTO homepage

They have impersonated WTO officials on a number of occasions, using satire to make their criticisms. As a result of the bogus website they have received invitations to speak at conferences intended for the WTO's Director General Mike Moore.

They have replied to some by saying Mr Moore himself was unavailable but could send a substitute.

On one occasion, at a textile conference in Finland last year, the bogus WTO official making a presentation removed his clothes to reveal a golden leotard with a metre long golden phallus containing what he called video interface which could be used to deliver electric shocks to employees in the developing world not working hard enough.

A spokesman for the Yes Men said that nobody at the conference seemed to spot the hoax.

The main complaint made at the time, he said, was from a woman who said the phallus metaphor was inappropriate because women too can exploit workers.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Business
01 Mar 01 | Business
05 Feb 99 | Science/Nature
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