Wikileaks plans to make the Web a leakier place
- 09 October, 2009 19:27
Wikileaks.org, the online clearinghouse for leaked documents, is working on a plan to make the Web leakier by enabling newspapers, human rights organizations, criminal investigators and others to embed an "upload a disclosure to me via Wikileaks" form onto their Web sites.
The upload system will give potential whistleblowers around the world the ability to leak sensitive documents to an organization or journalist they trust over a secure connection, while giving the receiver legal protection they might not otherwise enjoy.
"We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document," said Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks, in an interview at the Hack In The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Once Wikileaks confirms the uploaded material is real, it will be handed over to the Web site that encouraged the submission for a period of time. This embargo period gives the journalist or rights group time to write a news story or report based on the material.
The embargo period is a key part of the plan, Assange said. When Wikileaks releases material without writing its own story or finding people who will, it gains little attention.
"It's counterintuitive," he said. "You'd think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that's absolutely not true. It's about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero."
The final act will be for Wikileaks to publish the material on its Web site after the story has been written and the embargo period lapsed.
"We want to get as much substantive information as possible into the historical record, keep it accessible and provide incentives for people to turn it into something that will achieve political reform," said Assange.
Wikileaks is also working on ways to make the material it receives easier to search through.
The problem Wikileaks often runs into is how to present the material it's been given and how to make it easier to sift through for vital information, said Assange.
"At the moment, for example, we are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive's hard drives," he said. "Now how do we present that? It's a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it."
In three years on the Web, Wikileaks has published over 1.2 million sensitive documents.