My 9/05/10 Missoulian column
Last June, I wrote that Iceland’s parliament was considering new laws that would allow the website Wikileaks to legally “reside” in Iceland, away from the laws of other countries.
Wikileaks.org provides an outlet for whistleblowers who anonymously leak documents into the public domain. The site serves as a repository for information for all to read and download. The organization’s aim – with their tagline “We open governments” – is to shed light on the secrecy of governments.
By passing the legislation that makes up the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, the Icelandic government will give legal protection to the website from the laws of other countries not happy with sensitive information going public.
Last month, Wikileaks released thousands of classified documents related to the war in Afghanistan, and with another information release pending, there are Internet rumors that the U.S. may try to block access to Wikileaks by resorting to forms of cyber warfare. But critics (and I assume the government itself) quickly admitted that would prove impossible.
But now, Wikileaks itself is under the spotlight, and for reasons beyond the issues and consequences of the leaked information. Wikileaks is suffering blowback of its own because of its organizational secrecy.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Wikileaks is registered as a library in Australia, a foundation in France and newspaper in Sweden in attempts to operate under different laws. And Wikileaks’ financing is shrouded in multiple organizations and secret money transfers.
Some financial institutions have stopped working with Wikileaks due to accountability problems, while others have stepped up under legal protections that allow donors to remain anonymous: markratledge.com/link/wikileaks.
And recently, the popular blog (and in some respects, the Internet gadfly) Gawker.com started their own “Wikileaks” site in order to try to shed light on Wikileaks’ secrecy and the founder Julian Assange: Introducing Wikileakileaks: Your Source for Wikileaks-Related Leaks.
Called WikiLeakiLeaks.org, the site is both a spoof on Wikileaks and a somewhat serious attempt to bring some accountability to the organization.
Readers are encouraged to find and “leak” information they have gathered about Wikileaks, the organizations’ funding and even the personal legal troubles of the founder that have recently been in the news.
Gawker’s ploy is both humor and PR, and it remains to be seen if they can penetrate Wikileaks secrecy.
But one of many larger questions remain: What are the implications of the kinds of secrecy the Internet offers?
This week in Mac Q & A: What Wireless Routers Work With Macs?