August 2008 Archives

WikiLeakS.org media auction

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The controversial whistleblower website WikiLeakS.org seems to be experimenting with a new way of raising money, by trying to auction off "exclusive" leaked material to

The WikiLeakS.org Press release:

From: Wikileaks Press Office

Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 20:38:47 +0100

Inside Venezuela - over 8, 000 diplomatic emails 2005-2008

Wikileaks has prepared for publication over 8,000 internal and
external emails to and from a senior Venzuelan diplomat and former
speech writer for Hugo Chavez. The emails are dated 2005 to July
2008, and include several thousand attachments. The preparation
includes a "one touch" translation system to over a dozen different
languages.

The material provides a unqiue insight into the Bolivarian revolution,
President Chavez's manamgement of his inner circle, and affairs
ranging from Cuban and Venezuelan contacts, sentiments about CIA
activites in Venezuela, Columbian incursions, the visit of the
Pope and Venezuelan views on many other countries and events.

Organizations wishing to bid for exclusivity (proceeds to our source
defense fund) and embargoed access contact usa@wikileaks.org for
additional information.

This is certainly a departure from their previous media management and publicity efforts, and raises a few ethical questions, some of which are noted in Ryan Singel's article in Wired magazine - Latest Wikileaks Prize for Sale to the Highest Bidder - Update

Some Obvious Ethical and Practical Questions:

  1. How much money is this story / source material on offer worth, in terms of cold hard cash ?

  2. Will WikiLeakS.org pay any money to people who provide them saleable "media exclusive" leaks ?

  3. If not, then why not ?

  4. If so, how will they still protect the anonymity of their sources, given that financial transactions leave an audit trail, or involve face to face meetings ?

  5. Will WikiLeakS.org employ secret agent style dead letter drops or cut outs to pay informants ?

  6. Will WikiLeakS.org modify their submission forms to include a "I do not want this information to be sold for money" caveat by the whistleblower ?

  7. Will they be bound by such a declaration by a whistleblower ?

  8. Many of the better quality mainstream media organisations do not pay for stories, as a matter of policy . Ryan Singel's article mentions The Washington Post, and Steve Aftergood quoted in the same article cites the New York Times. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is another such news organisation which does not pay for stories. Will such organisations refuse to touch a "story" where only tabloid sensationalist media are in the financial bidding ?

  9. Why should "exclusive access" for a period of time, be restricted to private sector media organisations with money ?

  10. How long should any such exclusive access embargo period last for ?

  11. Would WikiLeakS.org delay publication of a "leak", if, say, a state controlled media organisation paid them to do so ?

  12. Would WikiLeakS.org delay publication of a "leak", if, say, a private sector media organisation, owned by a billionaire with other commercial interests and government contacts e.g. the former Australian now US citizen Rupert Murdoch, or the Uzbek / Russian Alisher Usmanov, paid them to do so ?

  13. Will WikiLeakS.org be open and transparent about their criteria for accepting or rejecting media bids for such exclusive story leaked source material ?

  14. Will just the fact of announcing a Media Auction, succeed in raising mainstream media interest in the story, regardless of how little money actually ever changes hands ?

The scenario involving the keeping the details of the leaked information secret, for a time period, even if it is going to be published eventually, is one which we have noted previously, in our criticism of the lack of a current, valid PGP Public Encryption Key to protect whistleblower leaked material sent via the postal mail route.

See Discussion on the lack of a current WikiLeakS.org PGP public encryption key

WikiLeaks.org web server(s) seem to be back online now. including:

https://secure.wilileaks.org

and the Tor Hidden Service

https://gaddbiwdftapglkq.onion/wiki/Special:Leak

Just as 3 days ago on Monday, WikiLeakS.org seems to be offline again, at their server hosting location in Stockholm, Sweden.

You cannot traceroute to, or ping the IP address 88.80.13.160

Do not search for any leaked documents here on this blog, (something which some people seem to do every time that WikiLeakS.org is offline) - you will not find them here.

This is not a mirror site, just a blog which comments on and analyses the WikiLeakS.org project.

There was no explanation of the previous downtime, so it is hard to guess when, or if.WikiLeakS.org will come back online.

WikiLeaks.org web server(s) seem to be back online now., including https://secure.wilileaks.org

However, the Tor Onion Router Hidden Service also using SSL/TLS encryption, one of the available methods for relatively secure and anonymous Submission of leaked documents,

https://gaddbiwdftapglkq.onion/

does not appear to have been re-started yet

It is debatable whether this provides more Security than the straightforward SSL/TLS encryption, since Tor Client to Tor Hidden Service is encrypted end to end, without the risk of being sniffed or intercepted by a rogue Tor Exit node.

It might produce less anonymity than just the "normal" http:// connection through to the Tor Hidden Service.

Perhaps the Varnish web accelerator proxy runs on a machine called akami, which a a Japanese cooking term for dark red fish or meat e.g. tuna sushi.

e.g.

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
ETag: W/"wikiwldb-wl_:pcache:idhash:899-0!1!0!!en!2!edit=0--20080801235836"
Vary: Accept-Encoding,Cookie
Cache-Control: s-maxage=267840, must-revalidate, max-age=0
Last-Modified: Fri, 01 Aug 2008 23:58:36 GMT
Content-Language: en
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 77745
Date: Mon, 04 Aug 2008 21:23:48 GMT
X-Tomcat: AU GZU
Age: 469
Connection: close
Via: akami
X-Varnish: 0.3b
Server: akami


.

The WikiLeakS.org website seems to be having problems, yet again, although you can and you cannot traceroute to or ping the IP address 88.80.13.160.

Do not search for any leaked documents here on this blog, (something which some people seem to do every time that WikiLeakS.org is offline) - you will not find them here.

This is not a mirror site, just a blog which comments on and analyses the WikiLeakS.org project.

The WikilLeaks.org whistleblower website webservers etc (apart from the various "cover name" DNS entires around the world) is mostly hosted at PRQ Internet in Stockholm, Sweden.

The WikiLeaks.org editorial activists are happy enough to publish uploaded documents, many of which, especially copies of old US Military equipment manuals or intelligence reports etc. do not meet their stated publication criteria of:

Unless otherwise specified the document described here:
  • Was first publicly revealed by Wikileaks working with our source.
  • At that time was classified, confidential, censored or otherwise withheld from the public.
  • Is of political, diplomatic, ethical or historical significance.
  • Any questions about this documents veracity are noted. Fewer than 0.1% of documents that pass initial triage fail subsequent analysis (typically developing world election material).
  • The summary is approved by the editorial board.

Therefore it is interesting that there is no mention on WikiLeakS.org, of a current attempt by to legally threaten and censor a Swedish blogger Henrik Alexandersson based partly in Belgium, by Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment, their equivalent of the US National Security Agency or of the UK's GCHQ.

This story about a leak of secret intelligence information, is , like most of the similar material on WikiLeaks, several years old, and in this case involves a partial list of names, passport numbers, company names, and fax numbers of mostly Swedish citizens and companies with business offices in Russia.

See this newsletter article by the European Digital Rights Initiative: FRA has a long history of spying on Swedes for an English language summary of the case and background links.

The Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment FRA that has made the headlines last month with its law on spying on all communication, has recently announced that it has reported a blogger to the Chancellor of Justice for distributing what they consider classified material proving the Agency was spying on Swedes starting with 1996.

Henrik Alexandersson is the name of the blogger that criticized the new FRA surveillance law. He published two lists of FRA's alleged classified material on his blog. The first document is a list of 103 Swedish citizens that were under surveillance in the early 90's for having contacts with Russia. The other publication is a list of connections between Russian and Swedish corporations from 1996, which may imply that FRA was illegally listening to cable bound traffic.

According to FRA's director-general Ingvar Åkesson all surveillance material regarding personal acts are destroyed after 18 months, although these documents imply that this isn't the fact.

See also this article in The Register Swedish spy agency sics lawyers on wiretap critic

Does anyone imagine that these businesses were unaware that the Russian authorities would be snooping on their telecommunications ?

Is should hardly be a surprise that the FRA would also be keeping such phone numbers under surveillance.

This story also has to be seen against the background of the draconian new communications snooping legislation which has recently been forced through the Swedish Parliament, on behalf of the FRA, despite widespread opposition.

This UK or US or Russian or Chinese style "snoop on all foreigners with impunity" legislation could have implications for anyone accessing the WikiLeakS.org servers in Stockholm, to upload leaked documents, to publish discussions or analyses, or just to read what others have published.

Some Questions:

  • Why has WikiLeakS.org has not joined in with the Streisand Effect evident in the Swedish language political blogosphere, where many people are mirroring copies of Henrik Alexandersson's articles and document image scans ?

  • Is it simply a language barrier problem ? There are very few Swedish language pages on WikiLeakS.org currently.

  • Is it a lack of awareness of WikiLeakS.org in Sweden generally ?

  • Is it a lack of trust in WikiLeakS.org by the Swedish political blogosphere ?

  • Or are the WikiLeakS.org core activists refusing to publish these particular leaks, which might involve the PRQ Internet server hosting facility in Stockholm being dragged into a legal fight with the FRA and the Swedish Government, which they are unlikely to win, and which result in Police raids on the server hosting facility, as happened when it was used for the far less sensitive legal / illegal Copyright disputes over The Pirate Bay bit torrent sharing systems which used to be hosted there in the past ?

  • Surely the WikiLeaks.org servers are a prime intelligence and communications traffic data surveillance target for the Swedish FRA and other agencies ?

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.

FreeFarid_150.jpg
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)

Open_Rights_Group.png
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).

irrepressible_banner_03.gif
Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

anoniblog_150.png
BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

ngoiab_150.png
NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

homeofficewatch_150.jpg
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."

rsf_logo_150.gif
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."

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

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