November 2007 Archives

How will the supposedly uncensorable wikileakS.org project survive its first acknowledged attempt to censor it through legal system threats ?

Apparently wikileakS.org have now received a threatening email (or perhaps a letter ?) from Schillings, an expensive London based firm of lawyers and public relations consultants, often used by minor media celebrities to defend alleged libels in the mainstream broadcast media and in print.

Although claiming expertise in dealing with the internet, they have been spectacularly counterproductive in trying to suppress former UK Ambassador to Uzbekisatan, Craig Murray's allegations about Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek born Russian billionaire supporter of the Putin regime in Moscow, allegedly with links to the brutal, corrupt dictatorial regime of Islam Karimov and family in Uzbekistan.

Schillings shyster threats even managed to cause "collateral damage" to blogs and websites, which had never mentioned the Usmanov affair before, and to infuriate hundreds and thousands of people who had never heard of their client before.

See Tim Ireland's Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair and Matt Wardman's blog archive of Alisher Usmanov category archive

Unlike the Usmanov affair, where no actual court order was involved, this time Schillings do seem to have applied for an Injunction of some sort issued in the High Court in London.

This is in relation to a copy of some information which the failing Northern Rock bank issued to potential buyers, which revealed the extent of the UK Government emergency debt guarantees.

wikileakS.org claim:

Schillings claim, in their letter to Wikieaks, that

"Pursuant to an Order of the Royal Courts of Justice dated 13th November 2007 ("the Order") no person shall publish or communicate or disclose to any other person (other than by way of disclosure to legal advisers instructed in relation to the proceedings for the purpose of obtaining legal advice), inter alia, the information contained within the "Northern Rock Executive Summary".

The Order also provides that any person who knows of the Order and disobeys it or does anything which helps or
permits any person to whom the Order applies to breach
the terms of the Order may be held to be in contempt of
court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets
seized."

...Furthermore, publication of the Northern Rock Executive Summary constitutes a copyright infringement.

We are willing to bet that those are not the actual words in the High Court Order, only Schillings' vested financial interest, partisan, over broad, claimed interpretation of the Order.

See the alleged document at

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Project_Wing_-_Northern_Rock_Executive_Summary

but do not be stupid enough to expect to find this document here on this wikileak.org blog.

The deadline for the offer of sale of Northern Rock plc expired last Friday, and most of the board of Directors resigned. There there was an Emergency Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons on Monday, regarding this affair. so who and what this legal censorship is supposed to be protecting now is unclear.

The injunction was aimed originally at the Financial Times, but a further attempted injunction against the Daily Telegraph appears to have failed.

Why is Northern Rock continuing to waste public money (they have borrowed tens of billions of pounds from the UK Government) on Schillings' legal fees, in pursuit of a document which is common knowledge in the financial industry, and is now out of date and irrelevant to any future takeover or rescue plan ?

Will wikileakS.org or their internet service providers, succumb to the shyster threats from Schillings, even though, so far as we can tell the wikileakS.org website is not within the jurisdiction of a UK court.

One of the ethical issues surrounding the leaking of documents which are subject Court injunctions, especially under the draconian UK legal system, is the secrecy which surrounds them. How are, say, bloggers, meant to magically guess that a particular document is subject to any legal restrictions ?

There is no simple way of discovering exactly what is actually injunctions or contempt of court reporting restrictions - they are not even listed on the Her Majesty's Courts Service website, or the British and Irish Legal Information Institute for instance.

We will be checking our webserver logfiles for visits from the Schillings IP address range of 217.33.207.160 to 217.33.207.191

wikileakS.org website seems to be back online today, but there is no Press Release or even an email to their volunteer mailing list explaining or apologising for the downtime.

It is now over two weeks since their only published PGP key expired on the 2nd November.

Sadly, there are still some dim witted people trying to search this blog for the not that sensational unclassified Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures document (it is not here !)

Is wikileaks.org offline ?

| | Comments (4)

WikiLeakS.org has effectively been offline this morning.

The various domain names and cover aliases and SSL/TLS protected webservers, still seem to resolve ok, but they are currently pointing to Swedish IP addresses, which seem to be online, for which the webservers are not working.

e.g., from the Wikipedia article about wikileaks:

Whether this situation is due to the sudden popularity of the website(s) as a result of the latest leak of a US Military document about the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, or due to active denial of service or other attacks, or due to legal threats, is unclear..

We note that lots of visitors to this blog are searching for "Guantanamo" or "camp delta standard operating procedures" etc. - do not bother - you will not find that document here.

UPDATE:

N.B. there are no copies of wikileaks.org whistleblower leaks or documents mirrored here on this blog

wikileaks.org have been hyping their leaks to the media like the worst political spin doctors, before they have established a trustworthy or scalable security and anonymity infrastructure.They have not published even a high level security and anonymity architecture design, and they have let their PGP encryption and signing key expire over 2 weeks ago, without replacement.

The analysis of the leaked documents produced so far seems quite good, but it has not been done through any secure, anonymous "wisdom of crowds" collaboration through the Wiki discussion and editing model. If you have the requisite insider knowledge to comment sensibly on the authenticity of a leaked document, or to provide extra details, then you as an analyst will be suspected by some people, of being involved in the initial whistleblower leak itself.

At the moment, we do not yet trust wikileaks.org sufficiently to make use of either their whistleblower document submission methods, or their Wiki facilities for analysis, commentary and or editing of articles, (which is effectively switched off for the public anyway).

The wikileaks.org PGP Key discussion page is a bit worrying:

The published PGP key 0x11015F80 for wikileaks@wikileaks.org has expired on 2nd November 2007

[...]

Another week has gone by, and the wikileaks@wikileaks.org PGP key is still Expired, without replacement (10 November 2007)

Technically a Pretty Good Privacy PGP public encryption or digital signing key does not need to be associated with a particular email address, and could, for example be used to encrypt documents or data sent to the wiklileaks.org project via the postal mail system. It is conventional to associate each published PGP key with a suitable email address.

It does not inspire a nice warm, comfortable feeling of trust and security in the professionalism of wikileaks.org, if their only published PGP key expired 2 weeks ago !

Why not Digitally Sign press releases, volunteer emails etc ?

Indeed - wikileaks.org must be a target for professional or amateur attacks on its still opaque and untrustworthy "security through obscurity" technical infrastructure.

What is their objection to making use if this widely available technology ?

If you are seen to be actively discouraging the use of PGP, some people will draw the conclusion that you are in cahoots with one or more government agencies.

Do you trust wikiileaks.org to protect your anonymity, if you are a whistleblower or leaker of private or secret documents, or even if you are one of the few experts able to sensibly analyse those leaks ?


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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