WikiLeakS.org has applied for a grant from the Knight Foundation a charitable foundation financed from the former Knight-Ridder US newspaper conglomerate.
Do not confuse this with the recently revived 1980's fictional Knight Rider TV series featuring a supposedly artificially intelligent car, which starred David Hasselhoff.
Knight News Challenge funding application: WikiLeaks full-scale localization and community expansion project
WikiLeaks full-scale localization and community expansion project
Requested amount from Knight News Challenge:
Expected amount of time to complete project:
Total cost of project including all sources of funding:
Describe your project:
Wikileaks enables whistleblowers and censored journalists to safely reveal primary-source material to the world. We have sourced thousands of stories for newspapers all over the world and helped expose both corporate and government corruption on a global scale (see attached). As a result of our efforts, we have won numerous awards, including The Economist Magazine New Media Award in 2008 and Amnesty International's Media Award in 2009. We seek funding from the Knight News Challenge to build the mechanisms and customizations needed to transform our successful, self-funded pilot into a powerful voice for local reform. First, we will provide links to local newspapers that publish stories based on our documents. Connecting related stories in different media, users will be able to trace a breaking story from first revelation to final commentary.
How will this be better or more informative than, say a Google News search or NewsNow.co.uk or other news aggregators?
Getting Local and Mainstream media to actually acknowledge and publish the URL links to the web based sources of their stories, would in itself be a massive change in their culture and business ethics.
Next, we will create a full-fledged localized submission system. Newspapers will be able to add a code snippet to their site to allow users to upload documents to Wikileaks.
What exactly is the commercial advantage to a Local Newspaper in doing this ?
Surely this will inevitably narrow down the lost of potential whistleblowers, and will lead to subpoenas and seizures of Local Newspaper organisation website's web server logfiles ?
If the "collateral damage" cases involving, say, Indymedia UK, are anything to go by, then the Local Newspaper risks having their entire web servers being seized, thereby disrupting or denying service to their advertising revenues, or their technical staff being arrested and having their homes searched by ignorant law enforcement bureaucrats, who are ineptly hunting down the people behind entirely unrelated malicious threats. Under more repressive regimes than than United Kingdom, the risks of state inflicted violence are much greater.
Similarly the Local Newspaper's Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies will be subjected to the same sort of legalistic threats and by dishonest or inept Streisand Effect ignorant shyster media lawyers, claiming defamation or copyright infringement and secret court injunctions etc., which wikileaks ignore, but which they may not be able to for financial or legal reasons.
By uploading to Wikileaks through their local newspaper, both the whistleblower and the journalist will optionally be able to further communicate anonymously to ensure that the story receives full coverage and maximum depth.
Note that this two way anonymous communication facility between the whistleblower and the journalist does not exist in the current WikiLeakS.org system.
This is especially important for smaller publications and publications in press hostile environments that do not have the legal, financial or editorial resources of larger publications and do not have a way to anonymize their Internet traffic. We have a list of strong partners who are eager to be beta testers of this system. We will also translate our templates into six major world languages, localize our legal information, and increase server infrastructure around the world to ensure access in remote locales.
How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities?
Wikileaks has an established record for safe transmission and publication of high-impact source material. By furthering the development of local interfaces and enhancing local media interaction, our project will substantially improve investigative journalism in many communities around the world. Similarly, localization will make it easier for readers to track the development of investigative stories and gain meaningful, actionable information out of raw data. In addition, by enhancing the connection between community news outlets and their readers, it will build bonds that will improve local media access beyond stories sourced through Wikileaks.
How is your idea innovative? (new or different from what already exists)
Wikileaks provides unprecedented safety, security, and privacy for sensitive source materials and censored journalism. This is of particular value to local newspapers and independent journalists, who lack the resources to defend their sources from legal and sometimes physical attack. Before Wikileaks, it was very difficult to forward leaked documents to investigative journalists, and nearly impossible to place them in full view of the whole world.
It is utterly false to claim that before Wikileaks, " it was very difficult to forward leaked documents to investigative journalists"
Similarly the claim that before Wikileaks it was "nearly impossible to place them in full view of the whole world." is also rubbish.
Language localization will extend this innovation by bringing it to a larger, non-English-speaking audience around the world. A sophisticated enhancement for the interaction between sources and journalists, readers and newspapers, will provide innovative ways for communities to report on news.
What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop this project?
WikiLeaks is an exceptionally successful pilot that allows sources to leak confidential information while protecting their identity. We are asking Knight for first foundation funding in order to grow from a self-funded pilot to a full media operation. Because we are a non-profit organisation, we hope that the successes of our model will be used and adapted by other media organisations. Wikileaks was founded by a team of internationally recognized technologists, legal experts, and accredited journalists. Our current staff includes well-known computer scientists and journalists, and our advisory board includes internationally noted political and technical figures. We work closely with the EFF, the ACLU, the SoPJ, and other leading 1st amendment organizations. Our pilot uses independent mechanisms to ensure that our sources are well protected.
Wikileaks.org do not take the quite same care with the anonymity of comment authors or of people who download the alleged whistleblower documents.
We maintain our servers at undisclosed locations, pass communication through protective jurisdictions, keep no traffic logs, and use military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.
The trustees of the Knight Foundation should insist on seeing some actual evidence to back up this, at least to the level of detail of an overall high level Security and Anonymity Architecture document, something which Wikileaks have failed to publish so far.
"our servers at undisclosed locations" - this is a misleading claim.There is a significant Single Point of Failure at the IP address 126.96.36.199 hosted at PRQ Internet in Stockholm, Sweden, to which all the different wikileaks domain names resolve.
We have strong bonds with like-minded organizations such as Reporters Without Borders as well as many renowned newspapers, which can help us implement our program in local areas, provide credibility as we enter new geographic communities, and share information about local corruption, suppression of stories, and journalist harassment. In our nearly three years of operation, every source has been protected, and every attempt at censorship of our material has been defeated.
The Knight News Challenge has funded some worthwhile projects in the past, including some involving well respected people like Sir Tim Berners-Lee or Ethan Zuckerman, so there is fair chance that they might partly fund this proposed expansion of Wikileaks.org project.