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Wikileaks Plans To Make the Web Leakier 94

Posted by kdawson
from the assuming-the-risk dept.
itwbennett writes "At the Hack In The Box conference in Kuala Lumpur, Wikileaks.org announced a plan to enable newspapers, human rights organizations, criminal investigators, and others to embed an 'upload a disclosure to me via Wikileaks' form onto their Web sites that would give potential whistleblowers the ability to leak sensitive documents to an organization or journalist they trust over a secure connection. The news or NGO site would then get an embargo period in which to analyze the material and write the story, after which Wikileaks would make the leaked material public. At the same time, the receiver would have greater legal protection, says Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks 'We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document,' said Assange. 'We want to get as much substantive information as possible into the historical record, keep it accessible, and provide incentives for people to turn it into something that will achieve political reform.'"
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Wikileaks Plans To Make the Web Leakier

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:43AM (#29693939)
    Screw my last mod point for the day, this sounds really fucking cool.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:47AM (#29694019) Homepage

    One of the benefits of the current system is that the journalist verifies the source. Think Deep Throat and Watergate. The journalist then aims to protect their source but the validity of that source is bound up in how much you trust the journalist.

    In this new approach the problem is that Wikileaks are unlikely to verify the validity of the source and the journalist will not know who they are. This makes it more open to subversion and political manipulation as the original source now feels protected even if what they are saying is completely and utterly wrong.

    This might be a good step but a very important check and balance has just been removed.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:51AM (#29694095)

    Anyone using the redundant mod on the first post should lose modding privileges for a week or two.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:56AM (#29694171)

    Veryify the facts no the source

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:57AM (#29694187)

    Investigating the source is just one part of the verification of the information provided. Presumably a lot of information can be verified independently by a journalist once he's been made aware of it regardless of where it came from. Only a fool would publish that which could not be verified and might be slanderous.

  • by quantumplacet (1195335) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:57AM (#29694201)

    generally journalists spend significantly more time trying to verify the information rather than verifying the source. Even in your example, Woodward and Bernstein spent their investigation verifying Deep Throat's information, not his personal credibility, since his any information about him obviously couldn't be used in the article.

  • by LitelySalted (1348425) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:00PM (#29694243)

    The leakiest of organizations in any country is the government. Anything leaked is leaked deliberately with a concrete reasoning behind it.

    This implies that the government is competent, which in turn implies that the members of the government are competent.

    I don't mean to come across as flame bait, but have you read the news in the last couple years? Political corruption or scandals happen all the time. You don't honestly believe that people each time our government reveals one of these occurrences it was done on purpose, do you? There isn't a conspiracy at every turn, people just do stupid things. That is the nature of government and of humanity.

    But I do have to agree with you on the reporters; they tend of have an agenda.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:03PM (#29694291) Journal

    The leakiest of organizations in any country is the government. Anything leaked is leaked deliberately with a concrete reasoning behind it. Most of the time it is used to float trial balloons, but sometimes it's used to mislead the public for purposes of control.

    From the article:

    "At the moment, for example, we are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive's hard drives," he said. "Now how do we present that? It's a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it."

    What does a Bank of America CEO's hard drive have to do with the government? Leaks happen all the time that are not "trial balloons" by the government--whether it be to the public or another country. Look at Aldrich Ames [wikipedia.org], do you think he was a trial balloon?

    I don't think this is a good idea at all.

    You're turning this into a partisan issue when it's just about getting things out there. Most of the world doesn't care about our petty political differences here in the United States. I have learned a lot about Scientology [slashdot.org] and even things that are supposed to be available to me [slashdot.org] through Wikileaks. When these guys have a new idea, I would listen up and give them a chance.

  • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yah ... om minus painter> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:06PM (#29694329) Homepage

    In some cases, yeah. Millions of people have affairs across the country every year, many of them never get caught.

    How is it that every other time a politician cheats on his wife we hear about it? Leverage for their opponents. When they don't get what they want, they leak the news about their opponents. Information is the ultimate weapon in the struggle for power.

  • Re:This is cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dintech (998802) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:06PM (#29694339)

    That would indicate that the recipient isn't interested. After it's made public domain, it might be picked up by someone that IS interested. This is also the elegent solution against collusive or untrustworthy recipinents.

    The main roadblock, at least for newspapers, is that there is no longer be a trusted or verifiable source. That might mean that leaked documents aren't taken as seriously as they would have been otherwise.

  • by LitelySalted (1348425) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:22PM (#29694601)

    But once again, you're buying into the conspiracy theory that all information is controlled.

    I don't doubt there are cases where scandals are revealed as means of political assassination, but I seriously doubt that ALL cases fall into this category.

    I wish I had specific examples to show that people come forward of their own volition, but I imagine that even that would be undermined with the notion "it was X who made him/her come forward."

    The reality of the situation is that the government WANTS you to think they're in control of every situation and all news. It gives the guise that they are competent. But as I mentioned above, that just isn't the case.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:23PM (#29694619)

    One day, someone is going to get killed because of a leak on Wikileaks.

    I hope that if it ever happens they find a way to hold the killer accountable.

    Fixed that for you.

  • Re:This is cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phisbut (761268) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:25PM (#29694645)

    The main roadblock, at least for newspapers, is that there is no longer be a trusted or verifiable source. That might mean that leaked documents aren't taken as seriously as they would have been otherwise.

    That is why there would be an embargo period, to give the journalist time to verify the claims, and do his own little inquiry into the matter to check the facts. I know it's kinda weird asking journalists to actually check facts, but hey, it's worth a try.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:25PM (#29694651) Homepage Journal

    If I were in charge of the Ministry of Truth, I'd give a promotion to the guy who developed a central system for detecting whistleblowers and spreading misinformation. Throw enough plausible information up there to buy the confidence of readers and would-be contributors, then sit back and wait for the benefits to roll in.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:37PM (#29694847)

    I'm not saying that there aren't genuine mistakes and leaks.

    I'm saying that "leaked" information is always deliberately leaked. There is no transitive conjugation of the word "leak" except to indicate intent.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ITMagic (683618) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:42PM (#29694923) Homepage

    Yes - quite probably. some*one* will.

    However, as it stands at the moment, it is quite probable that *many* people are already dying because of corporate or government activities or negligence; and that the reason why any situation goes unchallenged by the democratic voters is often because that they are unaware that the situation is occurring.

    Lets face it - when there is a cock-up, and the person or organisation responsible is 'shielded' by corporate cover-up, do you really think that anyone is held truly accountable then?

    If you want to live in a world where 'reality' is dictated to you, then I'm sure you can go and find a country that will pander to your requirements. If you choose to bury your head in the sand, and deny that it is in fact *you* as a voter, that are responsible for the actions of your government, and prefer instead to abrogate your democratic role, and instead to put blame on anyone you can point a finger at, then I suppose that is your choice. I hope you are happy with it, and the consequences that could ensue.

    Unfortunately, Wikileaks is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. Yes, someone, somewhere will end up being harmed by information released through the process. But the alternative is far, far more dangerous.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:55PM (#29695149) Homepage

    I cannot imagine anyone worrying about verification in today's climate. If it is a good story, it is going to make it out on the Internet. Period. If the "newstainment" on TV wants to pick it up, they will do so.

    Implying (correctly) that the 'net is no more interested in verification (and thus no better than) than the "newstainment" channels.

  • by cnvandev (1538055) on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:59PM (#29695199) Homepage

    Truth? Wikipedia might actually have a good idea. Truth is whatever the majority believes at the moment, and the majority can always edit the story to make it fit the latest fad.

    Thrasymachus, is that you? [mit.edu]

    That's an awfully short summary of a pretty big field of philosophy [wikipedia.org], right there. Sure, there's a spin on it and we will always see what we want to see, but 100 years later, when people have had time to dissect leaked documents with the benefit of hindsight, things will surface. The majority may believe something at the moment, but it's not the truth.

  • Phishing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:20PM (#29695539)

    The worst thing that could happen is that phishers put up their own icon and intercept the content AND identity of the whistle-blower. I could see corporations making mock websites to catch their own leaked materials if this becomes a big thing.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hmar (1203398) on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:21PM (#29695547)
    Which has always been the crux of the issue. Who gets to decide what should and what should not be public knowledge? You can easily go wrong by being to open or too closed, where is the balance?
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Friday October 09, 2009 @09:54PM (#29700797) Homepage

    Quite frankly, being accountable to the political system and / or legal authorities is exactly why important information never sees the light of day.

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