Chaos Computer Club expels Daniel Domscheit-Berg - will this affect OpenLeaks.org finances ?

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Various German language online media are reporting that Daniel Domscheit-Berg has been expelled from the Chaos Communication Club after his presentation of the state of play of his OpenLeaks.org project at the 5 day Chaos Computer Camp at an ex-soviet airfield / military aircraft museum north of Berlin this week.

Chaos Computer Club schließt Domscheit-Berg aus

CCC feuert gegen OpenLeaks

This is only the second expulsion of a member in the 30 year history of the Chaos Computer Club - the previous one was, apparently some neo-nazi who had been abusing their infrastructure.

There is no mention of this bickering on either the official https://ccc.de or https://openleaks.org web pages, the participants have, instead decided to give interviews to the media, without bothering to inform their supporters directly (a couple of thousand of whom were gathered at the campsite).

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(click for a larger screenshot image of https://leaks.taz.de in a new window)

https://leaks.taz.de

The test setup

From 12th to 14th of August 2011 this public platform is offered by German daily taz die tageszeitung, German weekly der Freitag, Portuguese weekly Expresso, Danish daily Dagbladet Information as well as the consumer protection organization Foodwatch; in cooperation with OpenLeaks. During this time you can upload documents, which will be worked on by the involved parties.

The goal of this setup is to invite you to do a security evaluation of the system during the Chaos Communication Camp 2011.

Surely nobody in the rest of the world, who is interested in the anonymity and security of whistleblowing website projects, ever considered that the temporary test server, set up in a in a tent on the outskirts of the main camp site infrastructure, was actually somehow being "officially" tested and "approved" by the CCC ?

Obviously, most of the people at the CC campsite were busy with the many other projects and causes, but some of the people with expertise and experience of whistleblowing website anonymity and security infrastructure, and relations with the mainstream media, were present and may have contributed to the discussions and the preview "testing".

As anybody who has attended these sort of hacker conventions should know, the mere act of putting up a webs server on the campsite network, will mean that it will be "stress tested" in a very hostile network environment, with lots of port scans and probes and attempts to hack into it and run denial of service attacks, but these would also happen if it was hosted at a major data centre.

But that should not be the only proper testing that the system gets before going live, a point on which here we agree with the CCC and which Daniel Domscheit-Berg also probably agrees with.

Endorsement by mainstream media brand names mentioned above provide far more public trust and credibility, whatever that is actually worth regarding a currently non-operational system, than any (non-existent) "CCC" branding or approval.

The CCC have never been known for having any kind of "approved by the CCC" branding or "approval" of computer or telecommunications projects and they are deluding themselves if they think they would ever be trusted internationally if they did so.

The CCC leaders' action (it is a properly registered legal entity with a board of directors, a constitution etc.) now gives the impression of siding with Julian Assange (who was never a member) against Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

As mentioned in his book, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the other former WikiLeakS.org technical staff defector "the Architect", took away their own intellectual property and thereby disabled the "improved" WikileakS.org submission system

Julian Assange and his cult of supporters have never bothered to replicate even the shaky anonymity and security infrastructure which they were left with or re-launch a different, better, whistleblower leak submission and publication system, despite having plenty of volunteers and money to do so.

The president of the CCC Andy Müller-Maguhn, who some of us once elected to the board of the ICANN which regulates internet domain name registration and appeals procedures, seems to have been trying to mediate between Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg for nearly a year over the return of this encrypted data to Julian Assange.

Since there is no evidence that the current WikiLeakS.org team is capable of handling the data securely (their current website does not even bother to use an SSL / TLS Digital certificate any more) they cannot be trusted any more than Daniel Domscheit-Berg can be.

The current OpenLeaks.org project may not yet have published its software as an Open Source project, which is what the purists at the CCC would like, but then neither has WikiLeakS.org nor any other whistleblower website.

Even if they did so, there is no guarantee that the specific computer and networking configuration settings and infrastructure used by a particular website are not actually counteracting any anonymity or security functions built in to the Open Source software.

All that the CCC board needed to do was to issue a press release making it clear that there was no official CCC endorsement of the OpenLeaks.org project.

The breakdown in mediation attempts the CCC may have tried between Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg are not proper grounds for expelling the latter from the Club.

Some of the wrongdoers who have something to hide from public scrutiny and might therefore fear the OpenLeaks.org project, will be smiling to themselves at this display of disunity amongst the German section of the tiny minority of people around the world with the technical skills and attitude to make a difference.

Expelling Daniel Domscheit-Berg, without also criticising the current WikiLeakS.org cult, has damaged the reputation of the Chaos Computer Club internationally.

What about the Wau Holland Foundation and OpenLeaks.org ?

The registered charity the Wau Holland Foundation, which is controlled by CCC sympathisers, may not now be available the Openleaks.org project, as a channel for receiving financial donations from supporters, a service it currently performs for WikiLeakS.org.

If OpenLeaks.org gets some money from its media partners, this may not matter too much, but until there is a virtuous circle of whistleblower trust and actual mainstream media publication of leaks via OpenLeaks.org, they will always be short of money.

OpenLeaks.org may still be able to make use of PayPal etc., to receive financial donations from individuals, something which WikiLeakS.org no longer can do, as they have managed to annoy and get banned over the years, due to their lack of financial transparency and their perceived anti-American political bias.


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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.

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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)

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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

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

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Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
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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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