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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 @10:43AM (#29693939)
    Screw my last mod point for the day, this sounds really fucking cool.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FlyingBishop (1293238)

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

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      Screw my last mod point for the day, this sounds really fucking cool.

      No, you're right. Don't worry, I'll just mod you up.

  • What if the news outlet doesn't do anything with the story for a few weeks though? I think it sounds cool and I doubt that would happen, but still.
    • Re:This is cool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dintech (998802) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:06AM (#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.

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

        by Phisbut (761268) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:25AM (#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.

  • Political reform? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#29693997)

    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.

    The American government is particularly good at this.

    Up to this point Wikileaks has been an unbiased (as far as a left-wing org can be) third party. However reporters are typically not so neutral. By giving leakers the ability to target specific reporters simply means that the leaks will lose credibility. We know Olbermann and Matthews love Obama, so anti-neocon leaks are most likely to be reported there. OTOH, Drudge and Hannity will be much more likely to report anti-democrat leaks. Since the same old same old is reported by these guys, the leaks themselves lose a lot of their steam.

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

    • by LitelySalted (1348425) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:00AM (#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 digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:06AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LitelySalted (1348425)

          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

        • How is it that every other time a politician cheats on his wife we hear about it?

          I doubt we hear about more than 2 or 3 percent. Most politicians are in way too large a glass house to be playing with rocks. While I'm sure some leaks have been for power manipulation, I would think the bulk of them come from people close to a situation that is morally appalling to them. I think that letting something leak is a way of clearing cognitive dissonance brought on by working for the type of people that run the system.

        • OTOH, if the "shock" of the affair happens often enough, it will finally get to the point where no one actually cares (this is starting to happen, I think) and then hopefully, people will remember that being faithful to your spouse isn't actually a necessary job qualification for being a politician. At least, we can hope.
          • by AndersOSU (873247)

            I don't think that's ever going to happen. This country obsesses with sexual scandal the way only a puritan can. It'd be nice that actual important leaks were spotlighted (like KBR building deathtrap showers) than the latest Ensign/Edwards/Spitzer/Clinton/Craig affair.

        • Why do you think you hear about it every time it happens to a politician? The incidence of cheating could be much higher than what is reported.

          You don't hear about regular people getting caught, because for the most part unrelated people don't care.

          Another thing to consider is that most politicians are narcissistic. Essentially they think they are above being caught, or if caught can get away with it. A normal, private person that cheats will be more careful.
        • by yurtinus (1590157)
          ...Because they do it more?
      • by cdrguru (88047)

        A lot of the "leaks" are intentional by one side trying to discredit the other.

        A news report of a man looking for sex in an airport bathroom harms the credibility of the man, according to this philosophy. What they are missing is it also discredits the organization that he belongs to.

        The expectation of the leakers and the people enabling them is that the public will see only the first level. Anyone paying attention can clearly see the entire process being corrupted from within and nobody in Congress havin

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          Some of those are like that. However, if you're in the airport bathroom, and a fairly well known Senator propositions you for sex, what would you do? Would you tell people, especially if you disliked this Senator and his policies? Or would you keep it under your hat?

          • If your boy scout master or your priest propositions you for sex, what do you do? Would you tell people, or keep it under your hat?

            Burn 'em at the stake, I say. There is nothing worse than a pontificating hypocrite in a position of authority, especially with regard to homosexuality - you know, the assholes who preach about "family values" and vote against equal-rights legislation as they solicit men and boys through IM and in public restrooms.

            Realistically, if you're not a cop (or a kid) of some sort
          • by cgenman (325138)

            Not to sound too... anti-conspiratorial, but Larry Craig was arrested in that airport bathroom on June 11th and entered a guilty plea between August 1st and 8th. That then enters public records and databases, and can be freely searched. It wasn't until August 27th that Roll Call brought the then public information to the forefront.

            Which is to say, anyone doing background searches on members of congress could have found this information and brought it to the public's eye. To say that it was some nefarious

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

        FWIW, people Olberman and Limbaugh aren't reporters - they are entertainers.
        Just as much as John Stewart is an entertainer. They may be a little less honest about their status, but what they do now is not reporting, at best it is commenting.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:03AM (#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.

    • Re:Political reform? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Raul654 (453029) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:11AM (#29694415) Homepage

      "Anything leaked is leaked deliberately with a concrete reasoning behind it. " - This is not true at all [nytimes.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that there is a ton of stuff leaked to WL, but WL lacks the resources to publicize or analyze the contents of those leaks. A leak does its best good when it's contents is known by the people with the ability to act on it.... and publicizing the contents is the way to get the existence of those contents know to the most people. The system works best when a leaked document falls into the hand of a person who has incentive to publicize it. A leak will get the most exposure by giving it to an

    • "Anything leaked is leaked deliberately with a concrete reasoning behind it."

      sometimes, mistakes just happen. but some people have to see secret plots and cabals around every turn. you sound dangerously close to this unfortunate psychological state. secret plots exist, yes. but they are rare and few between, and they usually get revealed. most leaks are just that: oops, i screwed up

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/09/bob-quick-terror-raids-leak [guardian.co.uk]

      Bob Quick, Britain's most senior counterterrorism officer,

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

        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.

        • by zapakh (1256518)

          There is no transitive conjugation of the word "leak" except to indicate intent.

          If the transitive verb "leak" is taken to mean "to take extra steps to make public, such as by posting to WikiLeaks or submitting as a press release", sure. But that argument is both semantic and circular.

    • by AndersOSU (873247)

      The problem started when we started calling Olbermann, Matthews, and Hannity reporters. They're not. They're commentators.

      I know that politicization of the media is nothing new (see: the Washington Globe under Andrew Jackson), but the dearth of good straight reporting is the clearest sign of the declining relevance of the old-school media. The other problem is that the few institutions that still do good investigative reporting are widely disparaged as the "liberal media."

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

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

      That's ok, what you think doesn't affect them. People with actual credibility will make use of this, which is a good thing.

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      The American government is particularly good at this.

      Hollywood, creator of perceptions.

      Up to this point Wikileaks has been an unbiased (as far as a left-wing org can be) third party.

      This is, always has been and should be (I'd like to say remain) an apolitical issue. Proper functioning of goverment (everywhere) and information control has *always* been an apolitical issue. Even if political parties manipulate it to their short-term gain, it's always our long-term loss.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Veryify the facts no the source

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:57AM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by s73v3r (963317)
        I'm guessing there are several news organizations on TV that would be willing to do that.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      true, but there's nothing to stop the journalist verifying the leaker, and then using the 'published' documents directly from the wikileak site. If the leaker doesn't want to be known to the journalist, I suspect every reputable one would have nothing to do with the leak - they want to be protected against being manipulated themselves (or their editors do!)

    • by quantumplacet (1195335) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:57AM (#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 MartinSchou (1360093) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:06AM (#29694331)

      Sometimes you simply cannot risk exposing yourself as the source of a leak.

      While a random leak about how a bank's managing board essentially granted themselves free loans [wikileaks.org] might raise investigative pressure, the most they can do is use the justice system to get at the journalist, and they have quite iron clad protections in a lot of countries.

      Now imagine a leak about how a government's covert espionage agency has been conducting kidnappings, torture and murder on its country's own soil and against its country's own citizens, and it becomes easy to imagine that the journalist won't have any kind of protection other than the fact that it was leaked via Wikileaks.

      While torture is problematic at best, I sincerely doubt that any kind of journalist would keep their mouth shut about who their sources are, once their kneecaps are being slowly crushed by a vice. And if Wikileaks have no records of who uploaded this information either, then that also protects the source.

      Once you have uploaded the information to Wikileaks you then either have to wait for someone else to stumble upon it and notify the relevant media OR you contact them yourself. The latter risks exposing you - having a "leak through Wikileaks" contact form will be more secure.

      I just hope it isn't implemented as a trackable link on the journalist's website. Then the offended parties can "just" get their hands on a list of IPs and other info that used that link.

    • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:07AM (#29694357) 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. If it is a good story, it is going to get lots and lots of exposure.

      Truth? Has almost nothing to do with it. Truth today is in the eye of the beholder and it is all relative. If you believe that the World Trade Center towers were demolished by Israeli agents working for George Bush, nothing is going to deter you, and you will only listen to "news" that confirms this. If you believe that Obama is "the One" and can do no wrong, nothing is going to deter that opinion. There are believers for everything, no matter how wrong-headed it might seem.

      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.

      • by mounthood (993037)

        Truth? Has almost nothing to do with it. Truth today is in the eye of the beholder and it is all relative. If you believe that the World Trade Center towers were demolished by Israeli agents working for George Bush, nothing is going to deter you, and you will only listen to "news" that confirms this. If you believe that Obama is "the One" and can do no wrong, nothing is going to deter that opinion. There are believers for everything, no matter how wrong-headed it might seem.

        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.

        If that was true, we wouldn't need Wikileaks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cnvandev (1538055)

        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.

      • That's incredible! Thank you sir! By juxtaposing that ridiculous 9/11 conspiracy theory with my opinion of Obama, you have successfully demonstrated to me just how ridiculous my opinion was. I now no longer hold that opinion, and I see the truth: that it was, quite obviously, Obama who perpetrated 9/11.

      • ...nothing is going to deter that opinion. There are believers for everything, no matter how wrong-headed it might seem.

        Some of us swamp ourselves with information via the internet and other sources specifically so that our beliefs will get deterred. While I agree that most people don't like hearing people scathe their personal beliefs with rebuttal, criticism, wit, and/or stupidity, there are others among us that actually enjoy the experience...if for no other reason than to seek 'knowledge' for its own sake.

        Wikileaks is a wonderful source for those of us who have made a hobby out of inundating ourselves with contradic

      • I cannot imagine anyone worrying about verification in today's climate.

        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.

        The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth [wikipedia.org]. In cases where multiple sources dispute the truth they're usually presented together, and even fringe theories with no conclusive proof are at least mentioned [wikipedia.org].

    • by cgenman (325138)

      At this point, the credibility of traditional journalists is stretched pretty thin. I feel for the real journalists who have to crank out stories as fast as possible with no time to do much more than re-write a press release and merge in a commentary from the first person who answered the phone. But saying that modern journalists investigate all of their sources, verify their facts, and an probe for weeks is... ideallic at best, and out of step with public perception.

      We're in a Gannett / Murdoch news worl

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:21AM (#29694583)

    Hey, Mickey, he leaks it!

  • This has caused me to wonder what will happen if Wikileaks itself has a leak of it's own. Would that be a recursive leak? Will they treat it just like any other leak or zero out the bits?
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:25AM (#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 Chris Burke (6130)

      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.

      And if I were in charge of MiniTru, I'd give the guy a promotion to highly secret position, and then quietly have him killed. He's obviously too clever to be trusted.

    • by selven (1556643)
      People who post on wikileaks tend to be smart enough to post from something like tor or a public terminal.
      • People who post on wikileaks tend to be smart enough to post from something like tor or a public terminal.

        <paranoid>That does nothing against watermarks. Suppose you're a suspected leak, and your boss "accidentally" gives you access to a doctored financial spreadsheet with a specific value in a specific cell. If it shows up on Wikileaks a week later, you've got some splainin' to do, regardless of how you posted it. If you work for Amalgamated Widgets, you're probably fired (at best). If you work for a TLA, it could get ugly.</paranoid>

        • by selven (1556643)
          Create twenty USB drives with "CEO sex scandal" scribbled on it, with upload viruses inside (which also forward it to a competitor/China), and be stupid enough to put one in your computer. As a bonus, a few other people might get it on their machines as well. It would at least mitigate the attention focused on you.
  • Well, we already know the internet is a series of tubes... So now we're going to have leaky tubes? Blah... More dripping information out there.

    If too much information drips out, something horrible might happen, like crashing things into the moon, or some president somewhere making 400 illegal copies of a DVD and putting himself at strike two of three before his own law gets him banned from the internet.

    *Hides from the leaky nets*

  • The **AA's top technical advisers have informed them that making the web leakier will sink all those pesky pirates.

  • Phishing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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.

  • This is a cool feature, i'll be waiting to see it come out. I think things like consumer safety issues, un-warranted wiretapping, dirty dealings should all be exposed without mercy. Wikileaks provides that forum. People that do dirty deeds, or put consumers at risk need their reputations destroyed.

    I wish they would use discretion however, I remember a leak last year where they leaked the frequencies from an IED jammer. NATO troops from all countries were put in danger because of this...

    It also reminds me

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