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DEFENCE

French agency censored article: Wikimedia

The foundation behind Wikipedia has accused the French DCRI domestic intelligence agency of forcing a volunteer to remove an article because it was deemed to contain military secrets.

The article on the free online encyclopedia, created in July 2009, dealt with a military radar station in Puy-de-Dome in south-central France.

The Wikimedia Foundation said it was contacted on March 4 by the DCRI, which said the article on the French language Wikipedia "contains classified military information and that publication of such information violates the French penal code".

"The DCRI demanded removal of the article in its entirety," the US-based foundation said on its website on Saturday.

Wikimedia said it refused and asked for more information from the French authorities, which never came.

Then, on March 30th, the DCRI contacted a Wikipedia volunteer in France and "insisted that he use his administrative rights to immediately remove the article, or face serious and immediate reprisals," Wikimedia said.

"Under the shadow of these threats he removed the article."

According to the French interior ministry, the article concerned "the organisation of the national defence's nuclear component".

Wikimedia France said the volunteer, who had nothing to do with the article in question, was threatened with detention and possible charges.

The French ministry however denied making threats, saying it had simply informed the volunteer about "the risk of legal action" against himself and Wikipedia France.

The article has since been restored on the website by a volunteer in Switzerland, according to Wikimedia France.

The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation expressed its opposition to "any governmental attempts to intimidate volunteers" and said it was "certainly sensitive to national security concerns".

But where there is "no apparent threat… we require more information before we will consider removing any content".

"To do otherwise would allow censorship to trump free expression," it added.

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DEFENCE

France recruits 1,800 extra staff to cyber warfare unit

The French defence ministry on Wednesday announced plans to significantly boost the country's four-year-old cyber warfare force, citing the "growing number and gravity" of hacking attacks on the country.

France recruits 1,800 extra staff to cyber warfare unit
French defence minister Florence Parly. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

The government had already planned to add an additional 1,100 recruits to a unit created in response to the growing number of cyber attacks on the West, mostly blamed on Russia and China.

Defence Minister Florence Parly told a cyber security conference in the city of Lille on Wednesday she had decided to go further to try make France “a cyber security champion”.

Warning of a “Cold War in cyberspace” she said she would hire an extra 770 cyber combattants on top of an additional 1,100 already planned, bringing the force’s staffing level to 5,000 by 2025.

France and other Western countries are alarmed over a growing number of increasingly aggressive cyber attacks, including data breaches and ransomware attacks, which typically see hackers encrypting victims’ data and then demanding money for restored access.

Recent high-profile targets have included a US oil pipeline, Ireland’s health service and India’s flag carrier Air India.

Parly said that the French army needed to increase it use of the “cyber weapon”.

“Our opponents do not shy away from doing so, whether state powers, terrorist groups or their backers,” she said.

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