May 2007 Archives

David Banisar of Privacy International has published an interesting legal review, pertinent to the countries belonging to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

It should also be read by legislators, civil servants, investigative journalists, government or private sector whistleblowers and bloggers, in the 56 participating States "from Europe, Central Asia and North America"

It should be of particular interest to those who are planning on setting up or using the WikiLeaks.org project,

Legal Protections and Barriers on the Right to Information, State Secrets and Protection of Sources in OSCE Participating States (.pdf 34 pages)

This report reviews the legal structures of three themes which affect the ability of the media and the larger public to seek and receive information on the activities of their governments: access to information, state secrets and protection of journalists’ sources. The three areas are inter-related. The right of access to information both limits and is limited by state secrets laws; excessive state secrets laws often lead to the leaking of documents which necessitates the protection of sources laws while an open system based on access to information limits the needs for leaks and protection of sources
Table of Contents:

The well respected USA Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism's bi-monthly Columbia Journalism Review asks

Will Wikileaks Work?
By Dan Goldberg

Perhaps it’s inevitable that an operation promising the world’s whistleblowers an anonymous venue to blow their whistles would be shrouded in mystery. Though it has yet to launch—a firm e.t.a. is hard to come by—Wikileaks (www.wikileaks.org) has already generated plenty of buzz, with articles in Time and The Washington Post, among others, but is answering few of even the most basic questions about who is behind it and how it will accomplish what it promises.

[...]

As advertised, Wikileaks will allow anyone to post documents—the Web site talks of “principled leaking”—that purport to shed light on malfeasance, public or private, and remain safely anonymous. In theory, it’s an appealing idea, especially in an era of growing hostility toward leakers and the journalists who would give them a voice. Dig a little deeper, however, and a number of concerns arise.

According to its Web site, Wikileaks was founded by “Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists” from around the world who hope that “greater transparency will lead to better, more responsible government.” Attempts to find out who those people are or how they are connected proved difficult.

[...]

The contact number on Wikileaks.org—which consistently goes straight to voicemail—has a D.C. area code and is a Verizon cell phone number registered in Adelphi, Maryland. Intellus.com, a Web tracking service, connected the number to a “Va Reston.”

So how ethical is it for a journalist to use such a service ?

How accurate is it anyway ?

Why do WikiLeaks not use an unregistered pre-paid mobile phone ?



Twenty miles down the road from Adelphi is Reston, Virginia, home to iDefense labs, whose Web site says it is “a comprehensive provider of security intelligence to governments.” It’s probably all just a coincidence, but for a site that champions transparency, well, you see the problem.

Twenty miles down the road ?

Adelphi, Maryland is just to the North of Washington and Reston, Virginia is just to the West.

Would that then be the Washington "Beltway", off which the vast majority of the US Federal Government, Military, Defence Industry and Political Lobbyists and Consultants etc. have their offices ?

Verizon Wireless and other Verizon Communications companies have several business locations in Reston, Virginia, including mobile cell phone and internet infrastructure etc.

iDefense is owned by VeriSign, who bought it for its internet and computer vulnerability news and intelligence services.

Early supporter and early disillusioned critic of the WikiLeaks.org project, John Young, seems to be facing anonymous, Kafkaesque censorship from his Internet Service Provider for his own, long established leaks / whistleblowing / Open Source Intelligence / rumour etc. website Cryptome.org

Previous legal Acceptable Use Policy disputes with Verio, his ISP, seem to have been resolved in the past, but they now seem to have given him notice of termination of services as a customer, without explaining exactly why.

All this will do is damage Verios's own corporate brand and reputation as upholders of Free Speech, and lead to obvious conspiracy theories about their real or imagined relationship with shadowy US Government bureaucrats or other "dark side" conspirators.

This is exactly the sort of thing that WikiLeaks.org are going to have to overcome, if their project ever goes ahead, which now seems increasingly unlikely.

About this blog

This blog here at WikiLeak.org (no "S") discusses the ethical and technical issues raised by the WikiLeakS.org project, which is trying to be a resource for whistleblower leaks, by providing "untraceable mass document leaking and analysis".

These are bold and controversial aims and claims, with both pros and cons, especially for something which crosses international boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

This blog is not part of the WikiLeakS.org project, and there really are no copies of leaked documents or files being mirrored here.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog@WikiLeak[dot]org

Before you send an email to this address, remember that this blog is independent of the WikiLeakS.org project.

If you have confidential information that you want to share with us, please make use of our PGP public encryption key or an email account based overseas e.g. Hushmail

LeakDirectory.org

Now that the WikiLeakS.org project is defunct, so far as new whistleblower are concerned, what are the alternatives ?

The LeakDirectory.org wiki page lists links and anonymity analyses of some of the many post-wikileaks projects.

There are also links to better funded "official" whistlblowing crime or national security reporting tip off websites or mainstream media websites. These should, in theory, be even better at protecting the anonymity and security of their informants, than wikileaks, but that is not always so.

New whistleblower website operators or new potential whistleblowers should carefully evaluate the best techniques (or common mistakes) from around the world and make their personal risk assessments accordingly.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

The WikiLeakS.org Submissions web page provides some methods for sending them leaked documents, with varying degrees of anonymity and security. Anybody planning to do this for real, should also read some of the other guides and advice to political activists and dissidents:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

WikiLeakS Links

The WikiLeakS.org Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

WikiLeakS Twitter feeds

The WikiLeakS.org website does not stay online all of the time, especially when there is a surge of traffic caused by mainstream media coverage of a particularly newsworthy leak.

Recently, they have been using their new Twitter feeds, to selectively publicise leaked documents to the media, and also to report on the status of routing or traffic congestion problems affecting the main website in Stockholm, Sweden.

N.B.the words "security" or "anonymity" and "Twitter" are mutually exclusive:

WikiLeakS.org Twitter feed via SSL encrypted session: https://twitter.com/wikileaks

WikiLeakS.org unencrypted Twitter feed http://twitter.com/wikileaks

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) by Hakim Bey (Peter Lambourn Wilson)

Cyberpunk author William Gibson

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Wikileaks.org - the controversial "uncensorable, anonymous whistleblowing" website based currently in Sweden.

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