How should WikiLeakS.org categorise the authenticity of its anonymous sources and leaks ?

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Somewhat naively, WikiLeakS.org claim that

Most documents come in from journalists. Frauds are extremely rare, but possible.

How can they possibly make that assumption ?

It appears that the WikiLeakS.org editors have had second thoughts and now doubt the authenticity of some allegations of tax evasion by a German Architect Juergen Grossman, amongst the documents uploaded and published in the Bank Julius Baer section

This document, its description below as well as comments posted to it are false or falsified according to different sources and investigation into them. Wikileaks is investigating as to why false documents in context to Bank Julius Baer have been put up

The reason why "false documents... have been put up" should be obvious - it is because WikiLeakS.org have created a channel which allows this to be done.

It is also a bit simplistic to think that even reliable sources always provide truthful, accurate and complete information.

Similarly, untested or previously unreliable sources can provide good information, sometimes.

Perhaps WikiLeakS.org need to tag the leaked / published documents like, for example, UK Police Forces do under under the National Intelligence Model, and their 5x5x5 Intelligence Grading form system:

For example:

Intel Source or Intel Source Ref. No:

Police Intelligence databases usually try to keep this secret

See also the previous blog article:

Does linking "Peryton" to several leaks partially betray the WikiLeakS.org promise of anonymity ?

They give an A to F rating for the reliability of the source

Source Evaluation:

  • A = Always Reliable
  • B = Mostly Reliable
  • C = Sometimes Reliable
  • D = Unreliable
  • E = Untested Source

Then there is a 1 to 5 rating for the accuracy of the information

Intelligence Evaluation:

  • 1 = Known to be true without reservation (usually technical forensic information or database records, which is not, of course, always strictly the case))
  • 2 = Known personally to the source but not to the officer
  • 3 = Not known personally to the source but corroborated
  • 4 = Cannot be judged
  • 5 = Suspected to be false

The third "x 5" in the UK Police Intelligence Grading scheme is the level Protective Marking and handling restrictions applied to the intelligence data, something which might, perhaps, be of use internally within WikiLeakS.org, but which is redundant for published material.

Handling Code - To be completed at time of entry into an intelligence system and reviewed on dissemination.

  • 1 = May be disseminated to other law enforcement and prosecuting agencies, including law enforcement with the EEA and EU compatible (no Code or Conditions)
  • 2 = May be disseminated to UK non-prosecuting parties (Code 3.7 conditions apply)
  • 3 = May be disseminated to non-EEA law enforcement agencies (Code 4.7 and/or conditions apply, specify below)
  • 4 = Only disseminate within originating agency / force. Specify internal recipient(s)
  • 5 = Disseminate: Intelligence Receiving agency to observe conditions as specified below.

The European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Union (EU), are covered by similar Data Protection laws, other countries, generally have weaker protections in law, like the USA.

Other Intelligence Agencies and mainstream media organisations presumably do something similar, although they never seem to bother to publish these reliability assessments, and tend to just quote "Government" or "Police" or "Security" sources anonymously.

Another similar model is used by the website GlobalSecurity.org, as caveats and disclaimers on its Terrorist suspect profiles:


Key to bullets

greenbullet.gif - High confidence

yellowbullet.gif - Some confidence

redbullet.gif - Low confidence

blackbullet.gif - No confidence

More explanation of the GlobalSecurity.org classifications:

Explainer

We've attempted to classify information about various terrorists, organizations and activities by noting our level of confidence in a given piece of information. These are subjective ratings, based on the track record of the sources providing the information. To break it down:

greenbullet.gif A green bullet by a given piece of information means we have a high degree of confidence that it is accurate. This may mean it comes from on-the-record, apolitical sources within the U.S. or other generally open governments, or has been reported by several top-tier media outlets, such as The New York Times, Washington Post or The Associated Press. Consider it very likely true.

yellowbullet.gif A yellow bullet indicates we have some, but not total, confidence in the associated information. It may come from a single, reliable media outlet quoting anonymous sources, or from foreign press reports. The information itself may be presented as uncertain, as when a military spokesman says an event is believed to have occurred. Consider it possibly true.

redbullet.gif A red bullet indicates we have a low degree of confidence in the associated information. It may have come from ideological U.S. government or press sources that have demonstrated a willingness to use questionable or unconfirmed intelligence to support their point of view, from shaky or authoritarian foreign governments who have a spotty track record in getting their facts straight, or from terrorists themselves. It may also have been presented as dubious or unconfirmed by generally reliable sources, or it may just mark our informed speculation. Consider it with a large grain of salt.

blackbullet.gif A black bullet indicates we are confident this information is false. It is for information that may have once been considered true, but has since been invalidated.

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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