Did the PM’s office edit out “Captain Smirk”?

“On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog,” says a classic New Yorker cartoon. True, perhaps. But we do know who owns you and where your kennel is.

The Prime Minister’s office denies that one of their own edited the Wikipedia article about Peter Costello to remove the nickname “Captain Smirk”. But IP address 210.193.176.115 belongs to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet — at least it did until the reference was changed a few days after the accusation.

If you dig through all IP addresses starting with 210.193.176 you find that most of them for which data is available are front ends for a pile of government agencies — everything from innovation.gov.au and biotechnology.gov.au to coagbushfireenquiry.gov.au and search.investaustralia.gov.au. Sitting right on 210.193.176.19 is the PM’s very own website.

Assigning an IP address in the middle of this block to anyone but another government agency doesn’t make sense — from a network engineering or an administrative point of view. You reckon someone’s telling porkies?

Wikipedia has since nominated the Peter Costello article as their Australian Collaboration of the Fortnight. “Please help improve it to featured article standard,” they ask. Anyone at the PM’s office wanna lend a hand? Woof.

[A more detailed version of this article was originally published in Crikey a couple of days ago.]

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