WikiLeaks is an online clearinghouse for internal documents, memos, emails and bulletins from government agencies, banks, corporations and other entities that may suffer embarrassment should the documents be made public. In many cases, the documents are declassified or for “official use only” and I have even seen some classified material posted as well. The subject matter of the documents vary from internal discussions on handling non-enemy combatants in the War on Terror to how Pedophiles recognize each other.
On their About page, they describe themselves:
Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact.
WikiLeaks made the news last week when a federal judge in California ordered that the website be “suspended” because it was hosting documents stolen from Swiss Bank Julius Baer. The docs could have indicated that the bank was involved in money laundering and tax evasion.
The judge, not being too savvy with those pesky internets pipes and tubes, ordered that the DNS provider suspend its services for the wikileaks.org address. The Register has more on the judge’s bumblings here:
Last Friday, Judge White, a Bush appointee, issued a sweeping court order that directed Wikileaks and a dizzying array of ISPs, DNS hosts and website server providers to suspend all Wikileaks websites. White went so far as to extend his directive to “all those in active concert or participation with the Wikileaks defendants … and all others who receive notice of this order.”
Given the number of internet users who have joined Wikileaks’ cause since learning of the case, the order could easily extend to tens of thousands of people or groups, many of them well beyond the jurisdictional reach of White’s San Francisco-based court.
Perhaps that’s why the only practical effect his ruling had was to force a registrar by the name of Dynadot to suspend the Wikileaks.org domain name. The site remains reachable by accessing its IP address or alternate domain names such as Wikileaks.be and wikileaks.in. That’s akin to removing a person’s name from the phone book but not disconnecting his phone.
White’s lack of internet savvy was in further evidence when he directed that a copy of his order be emailed to Wikileaks within 24 hours of the issuance of his order. The only problem there was that the suspending of Wikileaks.org prevented the organization’s email system from working.
WikiLeaks could not exist if it weren’t for poor egress filtering at organizational gateways. There are real dangers when contractors or soldiers fail to protect national secrets, and everyone can see how easy it is to embarrass politicians when they can’t maintain control of their own data. Though WikiLeaks is not interested in trade secrets right now, I’m sure it would gladly publish the formula of Coca-Cola if they got their hands on it.