Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Daniel Brandt, a campaigner for free speech and freedom from government oversight was honoured with an article on wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This really pissed him off.

The problem in Brandt's eyes was that a biography over which he could no longer have total control was no to exist. Free speech argued Brandt, was something that he had to say argue for absurd conspiracy theories, but others did not have to criticize him - or even be neutral.

He campaigned for two months requesting the article on him be taken down, however two votes on wiki merely confirmed that the more he complained the more notable he became. The article will surely now follow Brandt beyond the grave.

So furious was he, that he set up "wikipediawatch". A website designed to attack wikipedia. This was nothing more than a similar pattern to how he set up Googlewatch: Google pissed him off, ergo Google was "out to get him". So Google was evil! Corporatism at its worst! (OK, it started off with nothing, and got big by word of mouth - but let's not let the facts get in the way.)

If you piss Brandt off, it is not a small matter - it is because you are part of the big conspiracy that has pursued him his entire life. So on this site he listed all the wiki-users who had been insulting to him (claiming that he could sue them for saying that he was "a complete kook") and tried to find out their private information. Naturally a privacy campaigner, would know where to start.

I realised that Brandt was probably just taking the info from the talk-pages of the users. But some had no details. I suspected that the information he had "found out" was merely stuff that people had sent him anonymously as gags - to get friends names up on his site. So I did a little experiment.

I became aware of Brandt's activities through the press, following the JFK killing accusation affair. I saw his list. ''To then threaten legal action on that basis'', which by the way is a threat of frivolous legal action, which is itself actionable in many jurisdictions. Users named here may very well have a case here and might want to take legal advice. I became interested in how Brandt went about getting the information. Some had the info on their user-pages etc. but some not. Brandt claimed to have experience and contacts in the intelligence establishment but I could not see how he had come upon some of the information.
He asked for anyone to send him information, so I decided to give him some: I set up a Gmail account (googlemail in the UK). Here is a screen-capture of the email I sent him:

I went to bed and when I woke up about 6 hours later, Brandt had added the information to his site - to the extent that [[User:Splash]] was no longer "John Doe #6" and was now known to be "Daniel Atta Benzona":

Quite amazing, since Brandt (a Berkley graduate, supposedly a sharp guy with a history around intelligence services) had put this (potential libel) up without even the most basic checks. He also accepted information (and then disseminated) information from someone claiming to be a creditor and enemy of Splash (of course this is all a fantasy.) Even though Brandt was made aware of the enmity this did not lead him to question the veracity of the information. He apparently did not do a search for Dr Callum Derbyshire (not my real name) - if he had he might have found that there is no such person - it would be strange for a person with a PhD or an MD to have no online results, nor any trace in UK people searches. This is all quite disgraceful stuff, and is extremely bad practice. This kind of behaviour goes against everything Brandt has stood for. It also makes a mockery of his attack on wikipedia which comes down to the problem that any anonymous fraudster can get anything added in - it appears that the same applies to Brandt's site. In fact it is much worse in his case: here anyone could see that it is false, if I hadn't made this public it probably would have stayed there forever. (Especially if I had chosen a more believable name.)Anyone who so desired could contact Brandt with the name of someone they don't like and Brandt would uncritically put their name and location online (so that anyone with a subscription to could get their home address) and make a legal threats against them! Simply breathtaking.

And what does the fake name "Daniel Atta Benzona" mean in Hebrew?

Daniel you are a son of a whore