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Wikileaks To Sell Hugo Chavez' Email 313

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Wikileaks seems to be a bit hard-up for cash, so they're trying a little experiment. They plan to auction off an archive with three years worth of Hugo Chavez' email. The winner will get a period of embargoed access to break any stories they can find in the files, while Wikileaks will later publish the archive in full. Wikileaks plans to use the profits for their legal defense fund, but they may run into trouble because most reputable news outlets have policies against paying sources."
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Wikileaks To Sell Hugo Chavez' Email

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  • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 ) <snarks@gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:35AM (#24776629) Homepage Journal

    I guess the difference is that a photographer creates the photograph, but how is this different to paying for, say, the Hitler Diaries?

  • In other words... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:42AM (#24776667)
    In other words, ethics are negotiable. I can't say this impresses me much.

    No matter which way you slice it, to breach someone's privacy just to offer the media a convenient fishing trip is ethically unsound. Looks like they might need those funds for their own defence.
  • by Korey Kaczor ( 1345661 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:42AM (#24776669)

    Sites like this have a hard time obtaining any sort of revenue to pay for their costs, so it's only logical to allow short-term exclusive access to information in order to maintain site costs and legal expenses. Donations only go so far, and many people are probably afraid of contributing with their credit cards as to not end up on any FBI watch lists.

    I'm sure many /.ers will have a problem with this, but how else is wikileaks going to be able to defend themselves from lawsuits designed to shut them down through ridiculous, unpayable court fees?

    It's a win-win situation: news sources get profit from being the first to break the story, and wikileaks obtains money to keep their site going and defend freedom of speech while remaining true to their mission.

  • ethics are overrated (Score:1, Interesting)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @06:03AM (#24776795) Homepage

    University of Minnesota media ethics professor Jane Kirtly laughed when told of the scheme.

    "Ethically speaking, why don't they just publish it?" Kirtly asked. "They pride themselves on being a new breed of news delivery."

    Ethics are based on the concepts of right and wrong. Because there is no right or wrong ethics can not exist.
    People have different values, different opinions, ..., therefore different morals and ethics.
    When you formalize ethics you create rules or even law.

    "Ethically speaking, ..."
    Sorry but that doesn't mean anything. You might as well say either "It's my opinion, ..." or "By law, ..."

    But if you want to keep your concept of ethics, fine. In that concept wikileaks is contra-ethics (or at least the ethics of the status quo). Because it's considered unethical to publish this kind of information.

    (Personal) Principles are important, considering Wikileaks still intend to publish the documents unedited, anonymously, etc. they're not violating their principles. Nowhere did they ever say that temporary exclusives in exchange for money were out of the question.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion.

  • Re:Suicide. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @06:54AM (#24777009)

    to be fair,

    they will the release the archives in future. what they are selling is exclusivity.

    i don't see this as a detrimental practice if it allows them to continue doing what the do.

    but i'm just an AC so what do i know

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <<deleted> <at> <slashdot.org>> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:19AM (#24777531)

    Exactly. Privacy is privcacy. Either you care, or you don't. I does not matter if it's Chavez (who is not that bad as shown trough us proparanda, but also not that good either. ;). King Kong or yourself.

  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:20AM (#24777549)

    "Proof that the stated reason for needing to invade Iran is a hoax and that the Western Media and Government are lying, blood-thirsty, psychotic tools. I'll sell the info to the highest bidder."

    On the surface, such a statement appears disgusting.

    The ONLY logic I can see here, (assuming that the Wikileaks guys aren't a bunch of sell-outs which seems inconsistent with their sole reason for existing), is that Wikileaks is gaming the system for mind-share.

    It will be interesting to see how this move affects awareness of Venezuela on the global chess board. --Um, no. Correction. The world is too brain-damaged at this point for chess. At this point, it's just the global checker board. South America is next in line to be 'jumped' by the Empire.


  • by aleph42 ( 1082389 ) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:27AM (#24777621)

    Wikileaks already explained in wired [wired.com] that they plan to abandon the wiki model, and also let journalists pay to get news before everyone else.

    I really felt let down, so I went to their live chat to ask about it; they said that the subscription model was a way to keep good relations with journalists, and that abandoning the wiki model was because the first version of the articles (made by wikileaks staff) were always "of a superior quality". (since the chat was anonymous, it is hard to make this attribution; but they can always deny it later if it isn't true I guess). Instead the users would be able to leave comments about the articles. Also,recall that the really important decisions, like what material gets published, where always handled by wikileaks staff.

    - I kinda understand the head start given to journalists, except it's not very 21rst century to draw a line between "real" journalists and others. Anyways, charging money for that subscription is not going to make any suspicion go away.
    - Abandoning the wiki model is really losing the core good idea of this website. Remember, they are an anonymous bunch of people; I just don't feel I can trust them with choosing what should be or not be published, let alone say they don't want a single comma changed in their article because they like their own version better.

    I think at this point, they must change their name; any link to a "wiki" process is fake advertising ( and they admit that most of their initial visibility was due to people knowing wikipedia). They will end up giving open source politics a bad name at the first scandal.

    And its a shame, because it was really the most fascinating thing I ever saw on the internet; and I have high hopes for a real open information website like this some day.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <<deleted> <at> <slashdot.org>> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:31AM (#24777657)
    <quote>...but at least they're supposed to document existing events and not simply create stories.</quote>

    Yeah. And politicians are <em>supposed</em> to work <em>for</em> the people...
    And health care is <em>supposed</em> to help you...

    That's his point: As long as they work for the money/power, this conflicts with what they're supposed to do.
    Journalists don't get paid to document events. They're paid per story. And paid more per sensationalist story.
    The health care industry are paid to heal people. Not to help them stay healthy. So they have no interest in a completely healthy population, or else they would be out of business.

    Of course there are idealists. But in the long term they are often forced out of business by the non-idealists taking their jobs for being more "successful".

    That's the problem.
    There are solutions to it, but don't count on them or fix it. The only people who will act, are the one who care. You and me for example. :)
  • by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:47AM (#24777829)

    Chavez has demonstrated many times that he does not recognize individual rights, thus he can't consistently argue that his email should be distributed, nor could he argue for example that he shouldn't be stolen from.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:10AM (#24779735)

    Yes, by entering public office you immediately forfeit all rights to a private life. This is definitely the way to encourage normal people with typical values to participate, rather than scaring them off and leaving a government full of sociopaths with exhibitionist God complexes.

    Moreover, putting all internal government communications on the record is well known to encourage free and frank discussion among senior policy makers, leading to well considered decisions made in the best interests of those the government is supposed to represent. It certainly does not create a culture of CYA where everyone strives to do as little as possible so that they cannot be held accountable later.

    The problem with sites like Wikileaks, and attitudes like the parent poster's, is that they basically assume that any kind of privacy and secrecy is bad. This simply is not true. Publishing confidential information, usually without context, independent verification, right to reply or responsibility accepted for any consequences, is not really in the interests of anyone except those seeking to build a reputation for themselves based on the hype. Wikileaks is basically a joke at this point, and frankly, the world would be a better place if it crawled back under the rock.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:11PM (#24783327)

    Look, between the two "evils" of utterly stripping public officials and the government itself from any "privacy" and granting them "privacy" (which is by definition arbitrarily defined and subjective) to hide behind, it is clear that the former choice is orders of magnitude better.

    I respectfully disagree. While you make valid points, they assume the extreme position of having no useful disclosure at all. Why can't there be a middle ground, where government are required to fully disclose any actions they are actually taking and any money they spend or accept? The people are quite capable of judging for themselves why they think the government did those things and voting accordingly, but actions always speak louder than words. (And if the government want national security get-outs on those releases, they should have to at least convince an independent panel, preferably a randomly selected citizen jury just like you'd get at a trial, who are entitled to see absolutely everything).

  • by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:02PM (#24784975)

    Dan Rather didn't fake the Air National Guard papers. Someone else did. And then his producers hired dipshits for experts. Though the bias, if you actually read the documents, is pretty obvious, the only actual failure on Bush's part was that he didn't make it to the doctors for a physical, apparently due to trying to juggle his military duties with helping his father's campaign at the same time he was trying to get transferred to a different base. The failures to evaluate are because this transfer meant that Bush had been at a different base during the evaluation period, and the rater had no idea what his performance was like at the time. Even if these were real, they paint a fairly different picture than what Rather claimed.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus