WikiLeakS.DE censored by the German authorities

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It is depressing to read this WikiLeakS.org press release about the futile censorship of the WikiLeakS.DE domain name alias "cover name", which simply points to the WikiLeakS.org servers, which are not in Germany, but in Sweden.

Germany muzzles WikiLeaks

April 9, 2009

Fri Apr 10 19:39:36 2009 GMT

WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE

On April 9th 2009, the internet domain registration for the investigative journalism site Wikileaks.de was suspended without notice by Germany's registration authority DENIC.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

The publication of the Australian list exposed the blacklisting of many harmless or political sites and changed the nature of the censorship debate in Australia. The Australian government's mandatory internet censorship proposal is now not expected to pass the Australian senate.

On March 25 the German cabinet finalized its own proposal to introduce a nation-wide internet censorship system. Australia and Germany are the only Western democracies publicly considering such a mandatory censorship scheme.

While last week German police claimed to the news magazine Der Spiegel that they had been ignorant about WikiLeaks' role as an international press organization, this "excuse" is surely no longer valid. Despite being questioned by the press, German authorities have still not contacted WikiLeaks or its publishers to resolve the issue, or indeed, at all. The lack of contact is inexcusable.

[...]

WikiLeaks continues publishing on its other (non-German) domains. If the German cabinet's censorship proposal passes the Bundestag, presumably those WikiLeaks domains would be added to Germany's secret blacklist.

Germany and China are now the only two countries currently censoring a WikiLeaks domain.

[...]

What are the German authorities playing at ? Even the Australians are denying that they requested such censorship.

Who exactly is the petty official who ordered this censorship ?

This censorship probably breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10, which is enacted into the domestic law if each European Union country, and in some other ones as well.

It probably also breaches the European Union European Council Electronic Commerce Directive, which, very sensibly, exempts telecommunications and internet infrastructure providers from civil or criminal liability for the sins of their customers.


The United Kingdom Human Rights Act 1998 Schedule 1 gives this wording:

Article 10 Freedom of expression

1 Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2 The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

"formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law" should require an actual Court Order, where the lawyers for person who is being censored have a chance to cross examine and refute the allegations made against them, something which does not appear to have happened in this case.

It probably also breaches

Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce)

which exempts internet service providers and telecommunications companies from civil and criminal liability for the content which they transfer unknowingly and without modification through their infrastructure either as "mere conduits" or through "caching"

The UK implementation of this, the wording of which has been inserted into later Act of Parliament:

Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2013

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002

[...]


Caching

18. Where an information society service is provided which consists of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, the service provider (if he otherwise would) shall not be liable for damages or for any other pecuniary remedy or for any criminal sanction as a result of that transmission where -

(a) the information is the subject of automatic, intermediate and temporary storage where that storage is for the sole purpose of making more efficient onward transmission of the information to other recipients of the service upon their request, and

(b) the service provider -

(i) does not modify the information;

(ii) complies with conditions on access to the information;

(iii) complies with any rules regarding the updating of the information, specified in a manner widely recognised and used by industry;

(iv) does not interfere with the lawful use of technology, widely recognised and used by industry, to obtain data on the use of the information; and

(v) acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information he has stored upon obtaining actual knowledge of the fact that the information at the initial source of the transmission has been removed from the network, or access to it has been disabled, or that a court or an administrative authority has ordered such removal or disablement.

This legal exemption certainly applies to the top level German .DE domain name registry DENIC, and probably also to Theodor Reppe, the actual domain name registrant as well.

We would welcome any URL pointers to the equivalent German enactments of the Council of Europe European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union European

4 Comments

As the previous blog article speculated, this censorship of the WikiLeakS.DE domain name may have as much to do with the Wikileaks dispute with the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence service, as it does with the Australian censors:

See:

More detail on WikiLeaks.de suspension


WikiLeakS.DE seems to be back online, pointing to the Swedish IP address 88.80.13.160, via some new Domain Name Servers, through IKS GmbH in Jena, Germany, with secondary and tertiary DNS pointing to Cable and Wireless.

IP address: 88.80.13.160
Host name: wikileaks.de

[...]

Domain: wikileaks.de
Domain-Ace: wikileaks.de
Nserver: avalon.iks-jena.de
Nserver: ans1.cw.net
Nserver: ans2.cw.net
Status: connect
Changed: 2009-04-17T14:42:00+02:00

As of 13.08.2009, both the .de and .org domain consistently time out for me on a German T-online connection. I noticed while I was following a link in one of my articles. I have also tried using the IP I resolved through another DNS, but to no avail. The wikileaks.be mirror site in Belgium and .co.uk are apparently offline as well, and already being squatted.

I can only hope this is but a temporary outage, and not the final curtain. If we can't protect a site from censorship anymore, we have really lost.

@ Thomas Delbeke - have you tried free blog services like Blogger or Wordpress ?

Hi there,

I have my doubts wikileaks is working for serious stuff. Can anyone redirect me to a site where I can publish the following?

Dear KULeuven employee,

I am in a legal conflict with the Catholic University of Louvain since two years, because I want my name removed from article (PMID: 18216098), as I have never agreed to be listed on it,

[...]

Since you are not trying to be an anonymous whistleblower, why bother with WikiLeaks.org at all ?

You will not get any sympathy or publicity for your cause if you spam long, off topic comments into other people's blogs.

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

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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)
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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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Recent Comments

  • wikileak: @ Thomas Delbeke - have you tried free blog services read more
  • Berthold: As of 13.08.2009, both the .de and .org domain consistently read more
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  • wikileak: As the previous blog article speculated, this censorship of the read more

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