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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Vatican computer 'edited Adams page'
St Peter's
The Wikipedia tool linked changes to the Adams page to a Vatican computer
A tool designed to trace computers behind Wikipedia changes has linked the Vatican City to an edit in a controversial profile of Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Fein leader's biography on the online encyclopaedia website was edited from a computer inside the Vatican, according to the tool.

The tool, designed by a US computer science student, simplifies identifying who owns computers used by anonymous editors of Wikipedia.

Computers at other organisations including the CIA, BBC and various governmental bodies around the world have been linked to Wikipedia edits.

Wikipedia is compiled by its users around the world. Anyone can edit entries on the website.

However, users do not need to be registered to make changes.

The Wikipedia scanner tool reads the technical internet addresses of computers recorded in Wikipedia's logs - and matches them to real companies, organisations and government bodies.

The Vatican appears as one of the well-known organisations listed on the Wikipedia scanner website.

Among 88 edits to the site reported to have been made from Vatican City computers is one relating to the controversial biography of Mr Adams.

The anonymous editor appears to have begun deleting an allegation made in a national newspaper that Mr Adams was linked to a car used in a 1970s IRA murder. The newspaper claim has never been substantiated and Mr Adams has always said he was never a member of the IRA.

Wikipedia's managers temporarily banned edits to the profile during August, a procedure used where details are highly disputed or pages have been deliberately "vandalised" by malicious editing.

Dr Kevin Curran, a computer expert at the University of Ulster, told the BBC that it was impossible to know for sure whether the edit to the Gerry Adams page had definitely come from inside the Vatican.

"Either you were using their computer and you are an employee, or you had maliciously hacked, spoofing the IP address [computer's location] and having people believing that you were using their network.

"But nine times out of 10, we can almost say that yes, an employee of that company or organisation has been making the changes."


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