08 July 2008

Wikileaks -- Real Anonymous Whistleblowing

There is a lot of talk about online or cyber-activism but what does that really mean. I should have written about this particular site earlier. Wikileaks is an online activist site plus plus. It is more like a forum for online dissidents. These dissidents are anonymous but are responsible for putting into the public sphere confidential and secret documents.

This ability will ultimately outstrip the need for a freedom of information legislation as people can upload documents almost completely anonymously. I guess though, one should never under-estimate "big brother" and the reach that they have. It might not all be black helicopters and secret troops but it is kind of surprising that the Australian founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is still able to claim that not one of the leak sources have been uncovered.

There are now some 1.2 million documents on the site and not one has been censored or removed since being uploaded. This suggests that the documents have withstood all critical evaluation. The site had been focused primarily on corporate deals and government. However, there has been a recent shift in focus to the upload of documents that focus on the more shady sides of religion, cult, and celebrity.

This has seen documents uploaded about Wesley Snipe's tax problems, including his tax returns and bill. Other documents about Church of Scientology and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Wikileaks claims to have been responsible for swinging the Kenyan election by releasing document that showed that the then Kenyan leader, Daniel Arap Moi, siphoned off billions of dollars in government money. Other claims that Wikileaks make are that it was the first site to make available the US Rules for Engagement in Iraq and also the Operations Manual for Guantanamo Bay detention facility. This Operations Manual highlighted how the US was going to hide certain detainees from the International Red Cross.

In a mark of credibility, Wikileaks has been referenced 662 times on nytimes.com, 207 times on guardian.co.uk, and 86 times on washingtonpost.com.

Assange, grew up in Australia but moved to East Africa two years ago and has worked as a security consultant, professional hacker, activist and researcher during that time.
So, if any of my readers have documents in their possession that might be considered to blow the lid on some kind of issue, then consider uploading them to Wikileaks. You might not get any credit for exposing the deceit of others but it might just make the world a better place.

1 comment:

Ethics Whistler said...

Interesting post. I was just reading an article in The Washington Post about a lawsuit which is questioning the constitutionality of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires publicly traded organizations to establish a process to manage whistleblower complaints. According to the Post, it seems likely that the Public company Accounting Oversight Board, who created the act, will lose their case. This could have an interesting affect on federal whistleblowing regulations and technologies, so it should be an interesting story to keep your eye on.