Welcome To The Wikileaks Era
While the United States ponders what if anything it can do about the fact that Wikileaks has made tens of thousands of classified documents available to the world, the site is inspiring copycats that make it clear that shutting down Wikileaks itself isn’t going to kill the idea:
In an interview last month with Forbes magazine, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, admitted that he hoped his website would inspire others — not least, to relieve him of some of the burden of serving as the conduit for the world’s whistleblowers. “The supply of leaks is very large,” said Assange. “It’s helpful for us to have more people in this industry. It’s protective to us.”
Since then, a number of new websites have sprung up, answering Assange’s call. Most borrow WikiLeaks’ modus operandi — and a derivation of its name — but they accept a slightly more humble mandate, requesting documents from only a specific part of the world. Most of them also are seeming to try to learn from Assange’s public relations mistakes, styling their sites as stringently “objective,” whatever that means.
So far, there are sites devoted to developments in Indonesia, Tunisia, Russia, and the European Union. In addition, the Wikileaks site itself is now mirrored on servers all around the world, making any effort to shut it down permanently next-to-impossible.
As I noted on OTB Radio several weeks ago, the thing about Wikileaks that makes it difficult for any government to do anything about it is the fact that it’s primarily a loose confederation of hackers rather than something run by a single individual. Going after Julian Assange isn’t going to stop the organization from doing anything. We are, for better or worse, in the Wikileaks era.