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Wikileaks Leaks Out

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 12:29 by Sue Stewart

In the week that Penguin launched the first wiki novel, Reuters have revealed that there’s another new wiki coming soon - Wikileaks. The idea is that government officials, corporate bods, just about anyone who has information that’s being kept from the public can leak it. It’s a whistleblower’s forum, basically.

Wikileaks (not formally part of Wikipedia, but using the same technology) hopes to become “the most powerful ‘intelligence agency’ on earth … an open source, democratic intelligence agency…far more principled, and far less parochial than any governmental intelligence agency.”

Apparently the developers wanted to keep the new site low-profile until it was ready for its formal launch but the efforts of a blogger have put paid to that idea. Which I suppose is a ringing endorsement of the whole concept, in a way.

“This is clearly a project whose time has come because the response has been overwhelming and very positive,” said a member of the Wikileaks’ advisory board. Is it just me, or does that sound rather like Janet Jackson squealing “Oh my, how did that happen!” when her top fell off?

Naturally, there’s quite a buzz about it now. Some people love the idea that, like Wikipedia, Wikileaks will be run by everyone and they are keen to build on that idea:”Wikipedia shows that the collective wisdom of an informed community of users may produce massive volumes of accurate knowledge in a rapid, democratic and transparent manner… Instead of a couple of academic specialists, Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community… If a document is leaked from Somalia, the entire Somali refugee community can analyse it and put it in context.”

But there are problems. There are fears that whistleblowers operating within oppressive regimes will put themselves in danger. I can see the force of that argument, though I’m not sure how forcefully it applies to Wikileaks itself. (A person claiming to be a Wikileaks adviser told Reuters, “We want to instil bravery in whistle-blowers,” while stressing that comments were given only on condition that they would remain anonymous. Not too brave, that - though I suppose you could argue it’s leading by example.)

Wikileaks solution is to ensure that all of the entries, like their comments to Reuters, are anonymous and untraceable. This, of course, raises problems of its own. Public Concern at Work is an advocacy group for whistle-blowers here in Britain; their director, Guy Dehn, has commented: “It’s problematic because [Wikileaks is] going to be the preferred cloak of a malicious person.” Quite. It’s too soon to tell how seriously it’s all going to be taken, obviously. But there should be interesting times ahead.

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2 Comments on “Wikileaks Leaks Out”

  1. DannyMackay Says:

    “British Government plans slaughter of first born” (David Cam… erm I mean anonymous whistleblower)

  2. Roger Thomas Says:

    Well it’s a really covert operation at the moment. I typed wikileaks in Google and nearly missed it as the No 1 hit

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