Technews 4 everyone: What's Wikileaks? (continuation)

What's Wikileaks? (continuation)


WikiLeaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking”. WikiLeaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services.” PRQ is said to have “almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs.” The servers are spread around the world with the central server located in Sweden.[54] Julian Assange has said that the servers are located in Sweden (and the other countries) "specifically because those nations offer legal protection to the disclosures made on the site". He talks about the Swedish constitution, which gives the information providers total legal protection.[54] It is forbidden according to Swedish law for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper.[55] These laws, and the hosting by PRQ, make it difficult to take WikiLeaks offline. Furthermore, "Wikileaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information." Such arrangements have been called "bulletproof hosting."[56][57]
On 17 August 2010, it was announced that the Swedish Pirate Party will be hosting and managing many of WikiLeaks' new servers. The party donates servers and bandwidth to WikiLeaks without charge. Technicians of the party will make sure that the servers are maintained and working.[58][59] Some servers are hosted in the converted former NATO nuclear bunker CyberBunker.[60]
After the site became the target of a denial-of-service attack from a hacker on its old servers, Wikileaks moved its site to Amazon's servers.[61] Later, however, the website was "ousted"[61] from the Amazon servers, without a public statement from the company. WikiLeaks then decided to install itself on the servers of OVH in France.[62]
WikiLeaks is based on several software packages, including MediaWiki, Freenet, Tor, and PGP.[63] WikiLeaks strongly encouraged postings via Tor because of the strong privacy needs of its users.[64]

Name and policies

Despite using the name "WikiLeaks", the website is not wiki-based as of December 2010. Also, despite some popular confusion[65] due to both having the term "wiki" in their names, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia have no affiliation with each other[66][67] ("wiki" is not a brand name).
The "about" page originally read: "To the user, Wikileaks will look very much like Wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it. No technical knowledge is required. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity. Users can discuss interpretations and context and collaboratively formulate collective publications. Users can read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background material and context. The political relevance of documents and their verisimilitude will be revealed by a cast of thousands."[68]
However, WikiLeaks established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were "of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest" (and excluded "material that is already publicly available").[69] This coincided with early criticism that having no editorial policy would drive out good material with spam and promote "automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records."[70] It is no longer possible for anybody to post to it or edit it, as the original FAQ promised. Instead, submissions are regulated by an internal review process and some are published, while documents not fitting the editorial criteria are rejected by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers. By 2008, the revised FAQ stated that "Anybody can post comments to it. [...] Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity."[71] After the 2010 relaunch, posting new comments to leaks was no longer possible.[72]

Verification of submissions

WikiLeaks states that it has never released a misattributed document. Documents are assessed before release. In response to concerns about the possibility of misleading or fraudulent leaks, WikiLeaks has stated that misleading leaks "are already well-placed in the mainstream media. [Wikileaks] is of no additional assistance."[73] The FAQ states that: "The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinize and discuss leaked documents."[74]
According to statements by Assange in 2010, submitted documents are vetted by a group of five reviewers, with expertise in different fields such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.[75] In that group, Assange has the final decision about the assessment of a document.[7.

Possible move to Switzerland

On 4 November 2010, Julian Assange told Swiss public television TSR that he is seriously considering seeking political asylum in neutral Switzerland and setting up a WikiLeaks foundation in the country to move the operation there.[117][118] According to Assange, Switzerland and Iceland are the only countries where WikiLeaks would feel safe to operate.
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