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Censorship Your Rights Online

Bank Julius Baer Issues Statement On WikiLeaks 187

dtwood writes "The bank that got erased from DNS finally hired a PR agency and issued a press release filled with half truths and non-statements. Tynan on Tech has it, along with some brief commentary. Worth a look."
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Bank Julius Baer Issues Statement On WikiLeaks

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  • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:05PM (#22591234) Homepage Journal
    Are there any US institutions that are associated with this bank that I should be considering boycotting?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:10PM (#22591332)
    Are there any US institutions that are associated with this bank that I should be considering boycotting?

    Dude, this is a major Swiss private bank, with subsidiaries in other countries with bank secrecy laws and no taxes (like the Cayman Islands).

    The bank specializes in wealthy clients, helping them avoid/evade taxation in their home countries.

    They do not deal with little people like you (or me).

  • Re:Non-truths? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:12PM (#22591376) Journal

    > If you're going to chide a company for putting out a shitty document, at least have the balls to use some real language when you do it.

    > Is it a lie? then call it a lie! "half truths" my ass.

    You mean like this?

    And the statement "Julius Baer's sole objective has always been limited to the removal of these private and legally protected documents from the website" means either that a) they're lying, b) they really did think that wiping from the DNS records of the Net would only remove those 'inauthentic' documents they're so concerned about, or c) they're lying.

    I'm betting on a and c. How about you?

    Looks to me like the article accuses Bank Julius Baer of... lying.

  • Opinions, Opinions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:12PM (#22591380) Homepage
    Quote: "And the statement "Julius Baer's sole objective has always been limited to the removal of these private and legally protected documents from the website" means either that a) they're lying, b) they really did think that wiping from the DNS records of the Net would only remove those 'inauthentic' documents they're so concerned about, or c) they're lying."

    I'd interpret it as meaning they tried everything else and then had to resort to these means to get these documents offline. In a way, I can understand the Bank. If the documents are true, it's confidential information that shouldn't be published. If they're forged, it's obviously defamatory and shouldn't be published, either. I'm not sure if exposing some tax fraud is a goal high enough to disregard legal standards. WIkileaks is obviously doing good work, as with last years documents about african dictators. Not sure if this is among that good work,
  • Re:Non-truths? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:17PM (#22591458) Homepage Journal
    Erm, well, one of the things they say relates to the documents being "stolen and forged". Then, in the very same paragraph, they refer to the documents as "private" and "confidential".

    Sorry, but, um, forged documents aren't private or confidential unless they contain some degree of accurate information, I suppose...but then they're not subject to banking laws because they're fake documents, right?

    So, which is it, Julius Baer? Are these documents forgeries, or are they real documents and therefore subject to banking privacy laws? You don't get to have your cake and eat it, too.

    If JB lawyers really had the aim to stop the publication of the documents, they could have just sent WikiLeaks a C&D, who maybe would have even taken it down. But instead, they call up WikiLeaks asking them who their lawyer is and refuse to identify themselves. Who do these people think they are? The fscking Mafia? Wait, don't answer that ... :-D
  • Re:Go BJ Baer! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:19PM (#22591484) Homepage
    So, if the New York Times publishes a report on tax evasion, one should bulldoze the city of New York?

    Pulling the DNS is an option to be done *when all others have been exhausted*, and fact is, this was the first option the courts pulled, which is akin to my above statement. An initial order had to be for Wikilinks to pull the documents off of the site by a set date, and if they didn't, hold the executives in contempt. That is how the rule of law works.
  • actually, yes you can. the bank's efforts at defending itself are certainly vile, but this doesn't mean the leaker has virtuous motivations either. if you think it is impossible to leak and lie at the same time, you've never encountered a disgruntled ex-employee or ex-client before

    it's sort of like some of the problems surrounding allegations of rape. most charges of rape are indeed cases about a real rape, that needs to be punished harshly. but a handful of charges of rape are made by women who's motivations are completely false. the horrible tragedy is that the real damage such women do is not to the man they want to hurt, but to the 100 other cases of genuine rape their false rape charges now put into doubt

    so let us hope this wikileaks case does not involve a maliciously intended disgruntled ex-employee or ex-client. not that the bank's actions are defensible in any way, regardless of the leaker's motivations, but if the motivations of the leaker aren't squeeky clean, on such a high profile affair, then this entire wikileaks first amendment situation gets poisoned in a way it would be viewed on the street in a way no one who cares about the first amendment wants to see happen
  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:34PM (#22591742) Journal
    Does this bank pay interest?

    If so, then they must be investing in something. That's who you boycott.

    If you don't deposit money, they just make less money. If their investments fail to profit, they lose money.
  • Re:Go BJ Baer! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by z80kid ( 711852 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:36PM (#22591764)
    I think the big deal (as pointed out in the article) is:

    1. According to the correspondence shown by wikileaks, Bear's lawyers did not attempt to discuss what they wanted. They only tried to contact them to serve legal papers. You'd be evasive too.

    2. Bear is asserting that the documents are 1) fake, and 2) violations of banking privacy law. One of those two is the truth and the other is a lie. If they are fake, then there is no violation of banking privacy, so #2 is a lie. If they are real, #1 is a lie.

  • by Mike1024 ( 184871 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:38PM (#22591810)
    From the article

    You can't be a leaker and a liar at the same time. In fact, it's really unclear what Baer claims is legit (but stolen) and what it claims is false or forged.
    It would be possible to have both stolen true information and fabricated false information in the same document - or to have a mix of authentic documents and forged documents. Hence "stolen and forged bank records" could be true.

    Also, it makes sense for a company not to comment on the authenticity of leaked documents - and the bank could argue that wikileaks should remove the documents if they are fake (assuming wikileaks purports to be a factual site); and should remove them if they are illegal; and therefore should remove the documents without the bank specifying if they are authentic or not.

    That said, hosting fictional information probably isn't a crime (unless you could work slander or libel into it); and hosting private/secret documents against the rights holders' wishes is kind of wikileaks' raison d'etre.

    Just my $0.02
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:40PM (#22591848) Journal
    It's quite right that private banking information should remain private. It's also quite correct that JB should take great pains to avoid confirming that the data is genuine. As such, whether the data is legitimate or forged, they should behave in exactly the same way.

    And that's about it for my sympathy. JB could have asked wikileaks to take down specific pages (wikileaks most likely would not have done but it's a matter of courtesy). They could have specified a jurisdiction for their demands, or given a reason that they could not specify a jurisdiction. By demanding the wiping of the DNS records, they have advertised the existence of the leak and even made the mainstream press in at least one country.
  • Re:Go BJ Baer! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dubl-u ( 51156 ) * <> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:43PM (#22591908)
    They tried to serve Wikileaks with a notice [...] pulling the DNS was about all they had available to them.

    That's bullshit. Over the years, I've been on the receiving end of a variety of notices, requests, and demands from lawyers, cops, and federal agents. Wikileaks was mildly jerky, but the lawyers were even more so. If they had a problem with particular documents and intended to sue in the US, they could have just said which documents and where they were planning to sue.

    This isn't censorship, as the government isn't doing it. Nor ir it prior restraint on publication.

    You did notice that it was shut down by a court, right? I know some think that courts are naturally occurring mineral formations, but I swear, this one is part of the federal government.

    What's the big deal? Do the haters think people have the right to publish anything on the 'net, no matter how false or scurrilous, without any repercussions whatsoever??

    I'm not sure if you're trolling here or just clueless, but I'll run with the latter. If the documents were actually false, then BJB should just say, "yet more Internet" and ignore them. Obviously, the problem is that the documents are actually valid but put them in a bad light.

    We grant limited legal protection to information for reasons like "advancing the sciences and the useful arts" or running a legal business. Although it's a little amazing given our congressmen, those valid reasons to not include malfeasance, corruption, and skulduggery. In fact, just the opposite: whistleblowing is frequently protected by law because it helps us nab people up to things not in the public interest. Like, it appears, Bank Julius Baer and some of their clients.
  • by el borak ( 263323 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:44PM (#22591914)

    The lawyers OWN congress.
    The lawyers ARE congress.
  • Re:uh, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:51PM (#22592028) Journal
    You don't get it. There is no way for this to be a "saboteur", because it requires complicity of both parties involved. Even if the source is a pissed off ex-employee, the company committing the tax evasion, and the bank facilitating it are both still guilty. It really doesn't factor in who the source was, and anyone who thinks it matters at all be they the "public" or anyone else is a moron. The only reason it matters in rape cases is because there's the potential for the one doing the accusing to have tricked the one being accused into the actions he or she took (that is, the "victim" wasn't really raped but instead consented to have sex, therefore the accused is innocent), which then raises the question in other cases of if the "victim" is really telling the truth. In this case it's a matter of documents and the only question is whether those documents are true or fakes. Both parties in this case are the accused, and the "victim" is the government. If the one making the accusations used to work for one of the accused it makes no difference to the case, and should make no difference to public perception.
  • by JustinOpinion ( 1246824 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:53PM (#22592046)

    I'm not sure if exposing some tax fraud is a goal high enough to disregard legal standards.
    Well this is the fundamental question of whistle-blowing. Nearly all whistle-blowing is illegal, since someone is violating a confidentiality agreement, breaking a contract, publishing private information, etc.

    I don't know to what extent this has been legally codified, but the consensus has grown to be that whistle-blowing should be somehow allowed, or even encouraged and protected. This is why we consider it reasonable for a reporter to "not disclose a source" and why Wikileaks should be protected.

    If the information can be shown to be false, then yes it should be removed. But unauthorized publication of data which unequivocally proves that some bigger crime has occurred has to be allowed and protected if we are going to fight big crimes. This protection has to extend to the original whistle-blower, and the reporting agents (journalists, wikileaks, etc.), even though they may be technically breaking certain laws (e.g. disclosure of private data).
  • Re:intent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @03:59PM (#22592144) Journal
    There is no legal defense to bank fraud. You cannot claim "self defense", and motives don't have an impact on the decision or the charge you're guilty of. There are no extenuating circumstances in a case such as this, therefor the motives of the accused or the ones doing the accusing are not a factor.
  • News coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:07PM (#22592232) Journal
    Did anyone see the Associated Press coverage? link [].

    "An effort at damage control has snowballed into a public relations disaster for a Swiss bank seeking to crack down on a renegade Web site for posting classified information about some of its wealthy clients."

    Apparently, company information is "classified information", and WikiLeaks is a "renegade" website. I guess it is compared to the Associated Press. Here's a high school example of propaganda. Perhaps it was written by a high school student.
  • Re:Non-truths? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryHenderson ( 729254 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:12PM (#22592302)
    Not to defend the bank, but a set of documents CAN be both legitimate and forged at the same time. Some can be real and some can be false. The problem that the bank could be in (if they aren't totally lying) is that only demanding the take down of the real documents in the C&D will expose which records are real, and as such need to be kept confidential. The ONLY thing the bank could do in that case is to BOTH deny any of the documents are true and demand that they all be taken down.
  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:15PM (#22592342) Homepage
    "the DHS? don't make people laugh, they're wussy amateurs compared to the IRS."

    No doubt. The IRS brought down Al Capone for christ sakes. No other law enforcement agency could come close to bringing him down.
  • Re:Go BJ Baer! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by portnoy ( 16520 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @04:42PM (#22592614) Homepage

    Yeah? And who would you serve that order on, since Wikileaks won't tell you who their lawyer is or how/where to serve them?

    Wikileaks' response made perfect sense to me -- effectively, they said that they're a multi-national organization (note the presence of the domain name in .be, .uk, .au, .cn, and .in, to name a few), so they need to know which URL was a problem in order to give you the contact info for the appropriate legal organization. BJB never responded. I'd call that acting without good faith.
  • Re:You fail. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reddburn ( 1109121 ) <redburn1 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 28, 2008 @05:29PM (#22593160)
    I'm far more annoyed by stupidity than all caps.
  • by saltydog56 ( 1135213 ) on Thursday February 28, 2008 @06:09PM (#22593704)
    You know, just to piss on the embers a little. How many here would object to someone at the Pirate Bay disclosing who was downloading torrent files in preparation for a little midnight P2P action?

    We all know that at least a fraction of that activity is done with a disregard for legal standards.

    At what point do we expect privacy, and at what point should shady acts be exposed to the light of day.

    It seems that many get their panties an a wad when the privacy issue hits close to home but love it when someone else's laundry is hung out to dry.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas