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WSJ and Al-Jazeera Lure Whistleblowers 84

Posted by timothy
from the please-log-in-to-continue dept.
jjoelc writes "The success of Wikileaks in obtaining and releasing information has inspired mainstream media outlets to develop proprietary copycat sites. Al-Jazeera got into the act first, launching the Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit (AJTU), and On May 5, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., Inc., launched its own site, SafeHouse. According to the EFF though, both sites offer 'false Promises' of anonymity."
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WSJ and Al-Jazeera Lure Whistleblowers

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  • Anonymity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Monday June 13, 2011 @10:59PM (#36431980)
    I'm not sure why someone would interact in this way with any organization: Wikileaks, the Wall Street Journal, or the local newspaper without first masking any information that could identify them unless the publishing organization demands proof of authenticity. In that case, though, Wikileaks alone has proven it will protect its sources.
  • by fotbr (855184) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:02PM (#36432018) Journal

    and everyone has their vulnerability that can be exploited.

    In this case, when confronted with the choice of "fight a massively expensive legal battle" or "turn over the schmuck's details", it should be no surprise which choice ANY corporation makes.

  • by exentropy (1822632) on Monday June 13, 2011 @11:57PM (#36432372)

    anonymous whistle-blowing has zero credibility.

    Although having the leaker's name can increase credibility a little bit, it is ultimately the correctness of the information that matters. People believe Wikileak's documents because large portions have been verified; having whistleblower names attached to the leaked information wouldn't increase significantly increase the credibility of the docs.

  • Re: Only ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin (412918) * on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @12:10AM (#36432440)

    [Only fools trust WSJ] ... because it is owned by Newscorp ( Rupert Murdoch ).

    So long as the disclosure of information is in the financial interests of Newcorp (or advances Newscorp's march towards world domination), you can trust Rupert with your life.

  • Re:Anonymity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @12:38AM (#36432532)
    In that case, though, Wikileaks alone has proven it will protect its sources.

    Really? Woodward and Bernstein and the Washington Post kept silent about the identity of Deep Throat for over 30 years. Judith Miller went to jail for three months rather than reveal who leaked Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent to her. It seems like the conventional media do a pretty good job of keeping their sources confidential, if only because nobody would leak information to them otherwise.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @03:25AM (#36433140) Journal

    It's part of how we think - we tend to take things more seriously if we can attach a face ... or at least a name ... to it.

    That's why a smart whistle blower will stay annonymous and enlist someone else to independently verify the source and play the role of "lightning rod". That "someone" used to be the NYT or similar, nowadays it's Wikileaks or similar. Often verifying material from an annonymous source is as simple as watching the reaction of the "victim", for example; it's obvious to most people that the "diplomatic cables" and the "war diaries" are genuine simply because of the way governments around the world have reacted to them.

  • Re:Anonymity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @03:28AM (#36433154) Homepage Journal

    I would not go over the Net with Wikileaks or anyone else, unless I could find a trustworthy proxy. Wikileaks may be 100% true, but they wouldn't know if the police was sitting on their wire, decrypting their shit with a key gleaned through a hidden camera. But what is a trustworthy proxy? It looks like only criminals have the anonymity on the Net these days.

    But it's not really an issue, since anyone (and I mean any idiot) can put on a new long sleeve shirt, new gloves, wrap their face in a new scarf, buy a used USB stick with cash, and mail it. Knowing that mail came from Boston or Paris or Athens ain't gonna help.

    If I was a whistle-blower, I would worry first of all about my data. How many people had access to it, is indeed the question. Best case scenario is what Bradley Manning had: some old cruft accessible by millions of people. Worst case scenario, dozens of people, and everyone gets a slightly different file, steganographically marked with the receiver's identity. So there is risk of exposure, of course, but the transmission itself is trivially anonymous.

  • Re:Anonymity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @03:45AM (#36433214) Journal

    The problem is it really depends on how bad the government wants to get you thanks to PATRIOT and "enemy combatant". You see miller was sitting in a nice cell with access to her lawyer, everybody knew where she was, etc. But since you can be labeled an enemy combatant by "giving material aid to the enemy" frankly the government can drop a reporter in a hole and promptly forget where the hole is. How many Americans are labeled enemy combatants? Does anyone even know?

    Frankly if you are betting on a reporter to save your ass when the current administration says they have the right to assassinate Americans on American soil [salon.com] under irrevocable "war powers" I'd say you better be damned sure that reporter is willing to go all the way friend. Frankly even Nixon didn't have the balls to go as far as the last two administrations,and it ain't getting any better folks. I'm sure the next big leaker WILL be made an example of, mark my words. The Wikileaks leak stirred up too much shit for them to allow anybody to pull that shit again without paying horribly.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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