[Foundation-l] Changes to the identification policies and procedures

MZMcBride z at mzmcbride.com
Fri Feb 4 01:20:03 UTC 2011


This doesn't seem to have hit this list yet, so I'm posting here for general
information and discussion.

Effective February 1, 2011, there are two substantive changes to the
policies and procedures surrounding identifying to the Wikimedia Foundation.

The first change is that OTRS agents will now be required to identify to the
Wikimedia Foundation. The second change is that the submitted information
will now be retained, when it was previously destroyed.

This raises a number of questions:
* Who made these decisions?
* Why were these decisions made?
* Who was consulted about these decisions?
* Was potential impact to OTRS or other volunteer groups measured before
these decisions were made? (This is particularly important given that (a)
the collected information is not verified, raising questions about the
virtue of this entire process; and (b) certain volunteers have already
stated they will no longer volunteer in a particular capacity due to these
* Will these decisions extend beyond OTRS agents?
* As identification is primarily a legal issue, was legal counsel sought?
(And if legal counsel was sought, who was involved, given the lack of a
General Counsel currently?)
* What will the data retention policies be for the collected information?
* What will the data destruction policies be for the collected information?
* Under what circumstances can this collected information be released? Does
this information fall under the standard Wikimedia privacy policy?
* Who has access to the submitted information (both in theory and in

Looking at this more broadly:
* What's the virtue of identification?
* Is there a reasonable rationale or justification for it, given that the
identities are not verified?
* Can the submitted information be verified?
* Should the submitted information be verified?

In the interest of transparency, I should note that I've been involved in at
least two discussions about identification on the English Wikipedia:
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identification
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrator_accountability

I believe these issues are of interest to both the Wikimedia community and
the outside community. As such, I've posted these questions to Meta-Wiki
here: <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Identification_questions_and_answers>.
I encourage others to add questions or improve the page as they see fit.

Philippe is taking a well-deserved vacation currently following the 2010
fundraiser, but other members of both the Community Department and the
Wikimedia Foundation should be able to answer most or all of these
questions. If others aren't able to answer some of these questions, the
questions can wait until Philippe returns.

However, I believe it's very important that these questions and answers be
publicly available as soon as reasonably possible, especially given some of
the past explicit statements that said, for example, that IDs are always
destroyed. (To be clear, these statements weren't inaccurate at the time,
but now are.) Substantive changes such as these should be well-documented
and discussed.


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