Pakistan’s ‘Fontgate’: Wikipedia temporarily halts edits on its page on Microsoft’s ‘Calibri’ font

Font gate

HIGHLIGHTS

  • On Tuesday alone, there were as many as 35 revisions made to Wikipedia’s article page on the font
  • A Pakistani probe team concluded that documents Nawaz Sharif’s daughter submitted were forged
  • That’s because they had the ‘Calibri’ font, which wasn’t released at the time the documents are from

NEW DELHI: A day after it came to light that Microsoft‘s ‘Calibri’ font was used in allegedly forged documents in a Pakistani investigation, Wikipedia got so many edit requests that it temporarily blocked public editing on its page about the font.

“This article is currently protected from editing until July 18, 2017, or until editing disputes have been resolved,” said the notification on top of the ‘Calibri’ page of the online encyclopaedia.

On Tuesday alone, there were as many as 35 revisions made to Wikipedia’s article page on the font. And just a day earlier, a Pakistani team investigating Prime Minister Sharif’s alleged illegal offshore properties – flagged in the Panama Papers – released its final report that mentioned ‘Calibri’.

That report concluded that some of the documents it received from Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, were forged because they used Microsoft’s ‘Calibri’ font.

In and of itself, that wasn’t a problem. There was just the small matter of the documents being from 2006, when the font was not available for public use. Microsoft only released it for public use in 2007.

“The originals of the certified declarations are not correctly dated and have been created at some later point in time,” the Pakistani investigative team’s report stated, according to Pakistani media.

The anomaly was flagged by London’s Redley Forensic Document Laboratory to whom the Pakistani team has sent the documents for authentication.

A columnist for Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper tweeted a screen grab of the laboratory’s comment on Maryam’s documents.

“I have identified the type font used to produce both certified Declarations as ‘Calibri’. However, Calibri was not commercially available before 31st January 2007 and as such, neither of the originals of the certified Declarations is correctly dated and happy (sic) to have been created at some later point in time,” is the comment from the London forensic investigator Robert W. Radley, based on the screen grab.

Dawn.com decided to get in touch with Lucas de Groot, the designer who created ‘Calibri’. They asked him if the font was available in February 2006, when Maryam said the documents were from. De Groot’s company, LucasFonts, replied saying the final design of the font was sent to Microsoft “not before March 2004”. Subsequent to that, it was only used in beta versions “intended for programmers and technology freaks”.

“As the file size of such operating systems is huge, it would have been a serious effort to get,” LucasFonts said, indicating that it is unlikely anyone else got a hold of the font for sustained use in documents from that time.

It added that the first public beta version of ‘Calibri’ was published in 2006. Wikipedia said it was released on June 6, 2006. Dawn said Maryam’s documents are said to be from four months before that.

Twitter was abuzz with jokes about the whole issue and there were a few conspiracy theories as well. One person said the revisions to Wikipedia’s ‘Calibri’ page pointed to an attempt to change the date of release of the font by Microsoft.

Dubbed #FontGate, the hashtag was trending on Twitter for most of Tuesday, thanks to jokes like this one.

Source: Times Of India

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