'Fontgate': Wikipedia halts edits on its page on Microsoft's 'Calibri' font

Published: July 12, 2017
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Twitter was abuzz with jokes about the whole issue and there were a few conspiracy theories as well. PHOTO: File

Twitter was abuzz with jokes about the whole issue and there were a few conspiracy theories as well. PHOTO: File

In the wake of the revelation that Microsoft’s Calibri font was applied in alleged forged documents in the Panama Papers investigation, Wikipedia received a myriad of edit requests prompting it to block 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, The Times of India reported.

On Tuesday alone, there were 35 revisions made to the 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 surmised that some of the documents it received from Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, were forged, because they used Microsoft’s ‘Calibri’ font.

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In and of itself, that was not 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 back 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.

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

A columnist tweeted a screengrab 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 January 31 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 screengrab.

A newspaper 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.

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It added that the first public beta version of ‘Calibri’ was published in 2006. Wikipedia said it was released on June 6, 2006. 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.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Asif Ali Saroya
    Jul 13, 2017 - 1:20PM

    According to my opinion Pakistan’s whole management need to change not only Corrupt, robber, and launder PMLN of Pakistan. If now our youth don’t understand by our current management Pakistan will be defaulter very soon. Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jul 14, 2017 - 4:05PM

    Well I agreed with PMLN government accountability and disagree while all media bosses or puppy’s, All top/middle/lower ranked rishwat/safarsh khore Bureaucrats/judges and last but not the least Army having 37 years governance with Altaf, Jamat e Islami, Baluchistan, KPK talabanization, PML Q or or or ………………………………. only Nawaz will not go this time. I warned so called rulers establishment to restrain from any new venture or production it could go worst rather it will definitely. You have not right (as a people government servants) to decide fate of Nation through nokar shahi/English puppet system and American backing every time. If Zardari is back so that all his teams members freely murdering people, merit and system this time you will punish popular elected PM (Yes corrupt but who provide them funding in establishing IJI and who bail them out for Jaddah not Awam yes Army establishment). I rather suggest those who disagreed must be handed over to China and take few loyal from them instead keeping our 80% income paid guard as bosses.

    Shame on all above mentioned who are considering own crimes as crime and not learning anything from past but keep braking and pressurizing elected people who shall remain accountable through vote as no court or Army regime ever been able to provide relief to any individual from public but to Bosses……….i saw many stood for Begums of Sahibs shameee Recommend

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