WikiLeaks 2.0 – a new kid in town

Following the plight of the oft-storied WikiLeaks organization, we see a new variant to hit the streets soon, GlobaLeaks. Apparently WikiLeaks has garnered a bit of a following with the community, along with the attraction of a fair share of consternation from governments around the world. This new effort attempts to extend that further.

Law enforcement organizations have been wrangling with how to deal with embarrassing/sensitive information being dumped out onto the web in big unsanitized buckets, arguing that this kind of thing can be life-threatening for those engaged in sensitive work. GlobaLeaks argues that we need open information anyway.

GlobaLeaks says it will focus mostly on tools to help would-be whistleblowers freely getting the word out anonymously, and so are hacking a collection of software to help them. They call the software a “Leak Amplification Platform”, and hope that the software will allow others to easily implement leak projects.

Coming to grips with data sprawl, and accompanying leakage, especially of the classified sensitive variety, has government officials up late at night. After all, they may be veteran experts in the physical arena, but the cyber arena has a different set of rules (and some that haven’t yet been defined). Also, they have to rely on much younger veterans of the new arena, who hopefully explain what they’re doing without over-geeking it, so there’s an understanding gap that has to be narrowed. Then there is carrying out a potential act to oppose this type of activity, which is still being defined in the new arena.

The good news is that law enforcement will now have some time to ramp up their efforts surrounding the project, a pressure GlobaLeaks will surely start to feel. But since the system integrates with Tor (anonymous routing system) for anonymity, they’ll have their work cut out for them. This kind of issue becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, each side trying to stay a step ahead. The bigger question, however, is whether this variant of hacktivism will resonate long after the fate is determined for Wikileaks (and other similar efforts like GlobaLeaks), or whether this brief stint will be chalked up to an internet sideshow that quickly fades from collective memory. We’ll wait and see.

Author Cameron Camp, ESET

  • Leo Davidson

    "Law enforcement organizations have been wrangling with how to deal with embarrassing/sensitive information being dumped out onto the web in big unsanitized buckets, arguing that this kind of thing can be life-threatening for those engaged in sensitive work."

     
    It might be worth pointing out that Wikileaks redacted a lot of what they released (at least in the leaked cables about Afghanistan) to avoid identifying informants or leaking other life-threatening information. That's part of the reason the cables were released in small batches, instead of all 250,000 (or whatever it was) at once.
     
    (That didn't stop a lot of media reporting that all of the cables were released at once without anything removed, but that simply was not true. They'd only shown the un-edited cables to their media partners, e.g. The Guardian newspaper in England. I think there may have been cases where The Guardian themselves released information that Wikileaks had not vetted yet, however; that is said to have strained the relationship between the two, which (due to many other factors) ultimately turned into a feud.)
     
    Wikileaks say they even asked the US government if they wanted to help redact the cables by pointing to such sensitive information, but they refused to help. (Which is not surprising, of course. It would be remarkable if they had cooperated, though it would make sense if they were really concerned that life-threatening information might leak out and weren't just using that angle to make people think Wikileaks were acting more irresponsibly than they were.)
     

  • Fabio Pietrosanti (naif)

    Hi from GlobaLeaks,
    consider that GlobaLeaks is not a software "against law enforcement" but it have very good civil activism goals to implement transparency within public and private organizations.
    Additionally GlobaLeaks is going to become a WhistleBlowing platform, that could be used by:
    - activists as a transparency enforcement tool (especially in highly corrupted environments)
    - private corporation as internal reporting system for Sox compliance
    - public agency as internal and/or external reporting (whistleblowing) system for corporate transparency
    - media agency as anonymouys media reporting system (like OpenLeaks)
    So, the goal of GlobaLeaks is to make a free too to enable whistleblowing practice to be diffused among different kind of players.
    A software is a neutral tool that could be used in a lot of different way and we really hope that GlobaLeaks will be used in way that we don't even thinked.
     
    p.s. GlobaLeaks is a software, is not a service and/or an organization receiving leaks.

  • Cameron Camp

    @Leo: Thanks for the post, it seems organizations on both sides of the equation are wrestling with the new arena, the in's and out's of it all, and how things "should" be done so there are bound to be growing pains on both sides.
    @Fabio: Thanks for the post. Yes, you're right, software can be used for good/evil (or one's perception of such), I think if it allows anonymous information leakage it will be of interest to law enforcement, and they will have to wrangle with how their agencies deal with it.

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