A US APPEALS COURT has ruled that Wikipedia entries, which anyone might edit, are not authoritative sources of information suitable for federal judges to base their decisions upon.
In particular, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided last Friday that the Department of Homeland Security should not rely upon information found at Wikipedia in deciding whether to admit asylum seekers applying to enter the country.
The appeals court reversed a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals that said it wasn't an error for DHS to cite Wikipedia in its decision to deport Lamilem Badasa, an Ethiopian woman who was seeking asylum in the US, claiming her laissez-passer travel permit didn't prove her identity.
The government used a Wikipedia entry to convince an immigration judge that the document was just a one-way travel document based on information provided solely by the applicant.
In overturning the Board's decision, the appellate court noted that, because anyone can edit Wikipedia, there was no assurance that the information the government found there was accurate. The court said that looking up information on Wikipedia might have misled and tainted the government officials' decision in the case.
The court of appeals remanded the case back down to the Board of Immigration Appeals to explain why it believes that consulting Wikipedia did not taint the decision-making process.
That's the appeals court's restrained and oblique manner of saying to the judges down at the lower court, "You have got to be kidding." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ