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 Definition An anti-secrecy website with the goal of publishing confidential government and non-government documents [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Politics, Computers and Journalism [Editors asked to check categories]
 Talk Archive 1, 2  English language variant American English

Something to add

Strong criticism about effects in Zimbabwe. Sandy Harris 13:40, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

See also thisGareth Leng 09:19, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

European politicians resisting US gov't privacy intrusions. [1] Sandy Harris 13:50, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

The plot thickens. Swiss banker to release records of tax evading politicians? We really need to get this article online. D. Matt Innis 18:12, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Possible sources:

New York Times talking of setting up their own leak channel. [2] Sandy Harris 22:59, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Article is open to editing

In accordance with Peter Schmitt's EC report, this article is open to editing. I am considering Peter Schmitt as having editor type status, along with the other editors on this page, for the purpose of assisting in solving content disputes. Please remain professional throughout and lets build the most comprehensive, objective and neutral article on this subject. D. Matt Innis 02:57, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Tunnel vision?

The article fails to acknowledge the fact that every leak is the product of a broken promise. It debates the current consequences of Wikileaks' revelations, but ignores the future consequences of encouraging people to default on their promises. Thus it directs the reader's attention upon its transitory effects, and away from its lasting effects upon human conduct. Nick Gardner 07:17, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Nick, I haven't bothered to read the article and I never will. But, judging from your comments above, you seem to be saying that the article should also have aspects of a New York Times editorial or op-ed page article by a Paul Krugman-type columnist pontificating about "human conduct". I think that's fine for the NYT, or even The Times of London, but I don't think it's appropriate for what's supposed to be a neutral, objective entry in an encyclopedia. As Louis Meyer said about a theme-laden movie, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." Hayford Peirce 15:10, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't know whether that's what Nick meant. He can speak for himself on that. I will say, though, that I do think the article should mention such moral issues, in a neutral way of course. Peter Jackson 18:05, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
The problem is, Nick, that personal morality does not translate simply into social or political morality. For example: the Swiss banker who has just been prosecuted for breaking bank secrecy laws (and the judge refused to imprison him and gave a paltry fine) and who has now been arrested yet again because the Swiss see their economic interests as being the secrecy of their banking system. His attempt to provide information to state authorities about tax fraud and other illegal activities in the Cayman Islands was repudiated; so he has now given them to WikiLeaks. He claims that there is no personal financial gain for him in this (indeed, we can see only losses) and that this is about public morality and the criminal activities of the super-rich -- including politicians -- which is being concealed by Swiss authorities, to maintain their continued wealth as a host to dubious trillions of dollars.
So, who has the superior moral code here? Yet, by the confidentiality obligation that you insist he should observe, he should simply support a corrupt national/global system and that would be moral. For me, the difference in views is about personal opinions of politics: yours is perhaps a conservative (lower case c), mine would be more radical and openly antagonistic to corruption, criminality and patterns of global income inequalities. So, the upshot is that there can be no agreement on morality and no agreement on public policy. These conflicts can be expressed within the article's analysis, but this is not easy. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:56, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Martin's comment "So, the upshot is that there can be no agreement on morality and no agreement on public policy" is a very good one, and sums up what I want to see from a standpoint of comprehensiveness and objectivity. I may, personally, agree or disagree with his personal view, or I may agree or disagree with Nick's view, but I definitely realize there is no single ideal view. That was my problem with saying that even all democracies, much less all nations, agree that "public interest" is a universally perceived good. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:47, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
My point was about economics, not morality. Just as in a dictatorship, you have to remember that the person you are talking to may be a government spy: in a wikileak world, you may have remember that he may be a wikileaker. That may be an exaggerated fear, but the article should at least draw attention to the prospect that people - in business as well as in politics - will adapt their conduct in response to an awareness that anything they say might be made public. That is what I meant about the effect on conduct. I have no doubt that it would be bad for business. I suggested that the article displays tunnel vision because it confines itself to obvious points such as are being made by journalists, thus falling short of the standard of perceptive analysis to be expected of an encyclopedia article. Nick Gardner 21:52, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
We're not in the speculation business, Nick, which is what this would be, with all the good intentions in the world. If we even *imagined* such an idea over at WP, we would have ten thousand "original research" blows delivered to us within moments. And so it would be here -- I'm a professional science-fiction writer: suppose I said that *my* vision of what the future holds is more pertinent than *yours* -- because of my "unique" qualifications? I don't think that would hold water. If Paul Krugman, say, writes his next column about this very issue, then I think it would be well worth mentioning it. For anyone here to indulge in speculation like this simply won't do.... Hayford Peirce 21:57, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
It's not speculative if alternate views are mentioned and sourced. Even the U.S. government isn't unanimous, with some Congressmen calling for Assange to be shot, Robert Gates saying it's not catastrophic, etc. If and when the article exclusively says that a "world opinion says", we have a problem, because there is no such thing. The "public interest" view mentioned isn't going to go well in Japan and Turkey, much less China or Russia. I haven't researched Indian or Brazilian opinion. There's been a desire from several people to remove U.S. response completely.
It's not speculative when people in the Internet community make sourced comments and these are cited, or someone very familiar with a community, such as Sandy or myself, mentions them. It's not reflecting significant views when it is suggested that policy and governance people can make the only relevant comment, rather than mere technicians. That, to some extent, is a variant on the "two cultures" problem, or perhaps just an observation by Sir Humphrey Appleby. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:22, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
You miss my point entirely: I said that if WE wrote about "what the future holds" as apparently Nick is suggesting, that would be speculation. I said that if Paul Krugman wrote about it and we quoted him, that would not be speculation. Hayford Peirce 22:37, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
No, Hayford, I don't miss your point. I did put in sourced material, as, for example, from Robert Gates, and it was removed. Now, Sandy and I both mentioned John Young and Cryptome, and that was dismissed -- as well as the repudiation of Wikileaks by Young and by Steven Aftergood, long-respected people in government secrecy, people of different views. I gave sourced quotes from both. I think it's reasonable to mention people, including others such as Vint Cerf, who have spent decades exploring Internet-social-governance interactions. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:41, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Are we to ignore rational responses to an event on the grounds that even to mention them is "speculation"?Nick Gardner 22:55, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

I really don't follow your argument, Nick. You stated above that "in a dictatorship one has to be aware that someone may be a government spy". This is equally true in advanced democracies, as evidenced by the Metropolitan Police spies who have been uncovered after being sent in to infiltrate environmental pressure groups (of all things!). What are the economic implications of the WikiLeaks exposures? That bankers cannot keep their dirty secrets so easily (note that Assange gave details on an Icelandic bank to the Serious Fraud Office)? That civil servants and politicians betraying their own government in conversations with US diplomats now have reason to fear that such conversations might not remain secret? What exactly are these "dangerous leaks" that might damage business and economic interests? Perhaps there are some, but you need to be more specific. So far, all I can identify is your personal revulsion at betrayal of trust -- but there is no clearcut connection with economic activity. Even if you could show some, is it unequivocal that we would want higher economic growth at the expense of public accountability and more egalitarian distribution of both wealth and power? Forgive me for asking these things, but I just don't see any clear right or wrong in all of this, from any perspective. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:12, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

I am surprised that you ask - there are so many activities that would obviously be difficult or impossible without a reasonable degree of privacy - here are a few examples of likely problems:
  • A technology company whose R&D programme has yielded a probable winner that it has not yet patented.
  • A divorce lawyer who has advised a client that she is asking for too much.
  • A commercial company preparing to make a takeover bid (does that require explanation?).
  • The government of a developing country that is considering the possibility of devaluation.
  • A petroleum geologist who believes that he can locate a new oilfield.
  • A witness protection agency.
  • A defence system
  • An undercover agent in a terrorist cell.
  • A banking regulator (for example) considering time inconsistency.
Nick Gardner 09:56, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough. So which of these categories has been exposed by WikiLeaks? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:43, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
You appear to have forgotten what I have said on that point, so I will repeat it.
"...It (the article) debates the current consequences of Wikileaks' revelations, but ignores the future consequences of encouraging people to default on their promises. Thus it directs the reader's attention upon its transitory effects, and away from its lasting effects upon human conduct". Nick Gardner 14:25, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Clearly, the future consequences are far more important than immediate effects. However, you are not acknowledging that the control exerted by wikileaks and their collaborating media institutions (NY Times, The Guardian, et al.) has been such that none of those catgories you cite has been affected (as far as I know). If your argument is that in future people will leak and break confidences, then my retort is already stated. The standard of conduct across the world is now so low, the corruption and nepotism endemic, with increasing criminality of all sorts and involving all types of people including politicians and banks, that the moral issues are completely muddled. It comes down to political judgement, and nothing else, whether Wikileaks on balance is a positive or negative force. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:39, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Both Martin and Nick have good points. Specifically for improving the article, to quote Martin, "It comes down to political judgement, and nothing else, whether Wikileaks on balance is a positive or negative force." Agreed. One could argue that the value of homeopathy comes down to medical judgment, but the lines are more clearly drawn there in favor of one kind of expertise. Political and moral judgment is much softer, and there are no randomized controlled trials for them.
All I ask is that the article recognize that there is no single view of morality in this case, no single source of expertise, no single applicable political judgment. By all means, put some of the details in subordinate articles, but refer to things such as the "information wants to be free" vs. hard-line national security issues, and recognize that cypherpunks and others more in the technological area still have studied social and governance matters for some decades, and should not have their views subordinated to those of editorial writers. It concerns me that John Young and Steven Aftergood, always considered policy analysts, and who actively engaged with Wikileaks, are considered irrelevant by some. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:14, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
[3] Assange himself participating on Cypherpunks, with more recent commentary by Young. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:19, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

What is clear is that Wikileaks raises complex moral and political issues, and we can try to say what those are without editorialising (obviously there is no single view about the issues, but what matters is the issues themselves, who holds what views about them is not of interest to me, and frankly I don't care much about who holds what views - I'd prefer an article with as few quotes as possible). Howard has a problem "with saying that even all democracies, much less all nations, agree that "public interest" is a universally perceived good". I don't know who suggested saying that, it seems bizarre. On the other hand, the notion that public interest is a perceived good for a defined public is a truism; that's precisely what public interest means (public interest is not what interests the public, but what is perceived to be important for it to know). What is unquestionably the case is that whether anything is in the public interest depends on what public you're talking about. Second, something might be perceived as being in a global public interest even when it is perceived as against the public interest in one country. So, if anyone is prosecuted for leaking to Wikileaks, how will a defence based on the claim that a leak is in the global public interest be viewed? This defence may be available only in enlightened liberal democracies, but I think it is untested even for them. This is one of the important political implications of Wikileaks, going far beyond the mere legalities. It gives political force to fundamental questions about the moral legitimacy of particular actions of governments - political force because the people might not like what they learn, and might not be comfortable with suppressing information that others benefit from, even when it is in their own interests to suppress it. These questions might have most immediate power in liberal democracies, but are raised by Wikileaks in many.Gareth Leng 15:51, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

OK, we are more in agreement that the public good is a perceived good for a defined public. I think we have to be careful, although not avoid completely, speculating about prosecutions. Jurisdiction is extremely complex. If the US prosecuted Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have been the source of the main leak(s), US jurisdiction is much more clear than with Assange. Personally, I have not yet seen anything with which Assange is charged where the US would have jurisdiction, but one never knows with lawyers. I would seriously doubt, however, that any US court would entertain a defense of global public interest.
Neither the International Court of Justice nor the International Criminal Court would appear to have jurisdiction.
Quotes are relevant, I believe, in showing, perhaps in a subordinate article, the development of Wikileaks as an organization, which does get intertwined with Assange's personal development. The history of his engagement with cypherpunks, Young, Aftergood, etc. is significant, and, I'm afraid, shows that Wikileaks is more quantitatively than qualitatively a new phenomenon. Is it fair to say that the sheer volume and speed have made it different? To an extent, yes, but it defines the interaction with government secrecy no more than did the Pentagon Papers uniquely define it at the time.
There are other cases, such as Howard Morland and the Progressive, where it was argued that revealing the basic principles (but not detailed design) of thermonuclear weapons was in the public interest--and to some extent, the court supported that it was in the US public interest, although it also challenged the "born classified" doctrine and the US government's safeguarding of information. Morland, however, did not work from leaks, but from his extensive investigation, interviewing, and analysis. Daniel Ellsberg, in leaking the Pentagon Papers, was arguing for public interest, and was knowingly opening himself to criminal prosecution.
The US is not alone--see some of the Iraq War and WMD disclosures in the UK. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:07, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Martin that "it comes down to political judgement, and nothing else, whether Wikileaks on balance is a positive or negative force." That is exactly the point I was trying to make. Unfortunately it is not reflected in the article. Until it gives explicit recognition to the existence of downside risks, the article will continue to convey the impression that wikileaks is unequivocally beneficial. ( I do not accept that there are no risks because of the probity of its managers, nor that they do not matter because of the naughtiness of others) Nick Gardner 16:35, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree completely that there is an important downside to Wikileaks, and agree that there are serious dangers that must be acknowledged. We have very many very poor journalists and just a few good ones. We should try to avoid editorialising, but describe the issues - all of the significant ones, that have been raised to prominence by Wikileaks. If we characterise them using quotes, I think we should avoid using those quotes to describe the range of opinions, but select quotes that refer to the fundamental issues raised rather than pass opinions. I don't think we can sensibly characterise the range of opinions about Wikileaks objectively, and don't see much point in trying to, but we can coolly report the issues raised - including those that Nick mentions.Gareth Leng 20:52, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Different organizations, but comparisons being made

No one seems to be suggesting that Wikileaks itself was involved in the "Palestine Papers" [4] leak, but many are drawing parallels to the US diplomatic and military leaks. The disclosure of 1,600 documents is not in Wikileaks tens to hundreds of thousands, but it is a more general example of the process of large Internet-based leaks and either could be mentioned, or could be put under a top-level article whic, indeed, could encompass things such as the Pentagon Papers. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:09, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Article headlined: "Ex-UK spy boss says WikiLeaks sparked Egyptian revolution" at [5] Sandy Harris 09:21, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Another comment

Mainstream media are starting their own WL-like sites. The EFF is criticising Al Jazeera and the Wall Street Journal for what they say are "false promises of anonymity". Sandy Harris 05:57, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

I saw this video (the one at the head of the article) and thought of you, Sandy. It gives some insight into Assange's thinking and afterthoughts. D. Matt Innis 12:11, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

WL is threatening to sue Visa & Mastercard for cutting off donations. [6]. Sandy Harris 23:31, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Suing The Guardian

Allegedly The Guardian released some unredacted material, and WL are suing.. [7] Sandy Harris 04:58, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Actually, it is more complicated than that. [8] [9] Sandy Harris 03:35, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Another spinoff

Globaleaks [10] is "the first Open Source Whistleblowing Framework. It empowers anyone to esily set up and maintain their own whistelblowing platform". Sandy Harris 01:13, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Warrantless search of email

Secret searches of email of someone not charged with anything. [11] Sandy Harris 01:17, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Active again

WL stopped releasing things for a while, but they have restarted. Their "spy files" document Western companies selling various surveillance equipment to repressive governments. Sandy Harris 02:26, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Just be careful not to post any links to wikileaks from here, even on the talk page. We might consider ways to warn people where they are going in case they don't want to (or aren't allowed to) go there. For now, let's not give any direct links ourselves. D. Matt Innis 03:01, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
There are and, as I see it, must be some links to WikiLeaks in the article. None are directly to leaked material, though. Links I've added recently here are all to news stories or blog entries elsewhere. Sandy Harris 07:14, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Is avoiding WikiLeaks citations actually policy? If so, where is it stated? A quick search on both forums & wiki turned up nothing definitive. Sandy Harris 02:35, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
I would say that indicating clearly that the link goes to WikiLeaks is warning enough, i.e., the link should be piped to a description mentioning WikiLeaks as target. Has the EC to return to this topic? In my opinion, currently no policy prohibits such links -- has there to be an explicit rule that allows them? --Peter Schmitt 02:01, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
There is no policy whatsoever re: Wikileaks. Please use common sense.Pat Palmer 03:17, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Using WL in reporting

An interview [12] with a New York Times reporter on using WL. Sandy Harris 02:12, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

What next?

There have been no edits to either the article or the talk page in six months or so. Having massively rewritten the thing once, I am reluctant to do much more (though I will continue to contribute to related things like cypherpunk and Anonymous (group)), but it is an important article and topical enough to need frequent updates. What would it need to get to approvable status?

Also, there may be open issues. Howard, Martin & to some extent others had extensive discussions of where the article should go and raised some good points (see talk page archives). To some extent, my rewrite incorporated those ideas but it also ignored some. Later, Nick raised other good questions, see #Tunnel_vision.3F above. To what extent do any of those questions need to be raised again? Are there new questions?

Odd countermeasures

Wired points to gov't-sponsored research on disinformation as a leak plugging strategy. [13] I'm not sure where this might fit on CZ, but it seemed worth noting. Sandy Harris 01:05, 6 July 2012 (UTC)


A group calling itself "antileaks" has claimed responsibility for some attacks on WL [14] [15]. Sandy Harris 03:47, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

Why WL is worth defending

Article [16] on a computer news site. Sandy Harris 05:20, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

  • And a defense against cutting off of funds [17] Sandy Harris 19:02, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Additional press coverage

New Laws Target Wikileaks Sandy Harris 03:40, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies Sandy Harris 18:10, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

fix refs

This is an excellent article.

As per a discussion in the fora I think it is important that anyone clicking on a reference know whether than link takes them to the WikiLeaks site. Some of the references here don't say where they lead to. I fixed two of them here. In doing so I changed them from using the {{citation}} template to using {{cite web}} and {{cite news}}. The first URL had gone 404. But the wayback machine had archived a copy. Unfortunately I found the {{citation}} template, which I am not familiar with, doesn't support the archiveurl field.

Should I go on and continue to feel free to substitute {{cite web}} and {{cite news}} for the {{citation}} template when its use presents a problem?

Cheers! George Swan 02:41, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Sure, go ahead. Sandy Harris 23:31, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

H B Gary

Intelligence firm proposing attacks on WL and Anonymous [19] [20]. Of course this is why they were hacked Anonymous_(group)#Defending_WikiLeaks. Sandy Harris 13:00, 2 October 2013 (UTC)