Wednesday, 15th December 2010
Tim Buckley Owen
Amid the furore about the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables there’s one possibility that doesn’t seem to have been much considered yet: that WikiLeaks may have blown it. Whether it has or not, there are still likely to be plenty of imitators which information managers are going to have to keep an eye on.
Already, a key WikiLeaks staff member Daniel Domscheit-Berg has quit to set up a rival group following an internal row, paidContent:UK reports (http://digbig.com/5bdcgn). The article also refers to a list of more than 100 further groups releasing sensitive data, compiled by another WikiLeaks founder John Young, who runs his own leaks website Cryptome (http://cryptome.org).
Now VIP’s sister publication Resourceshelf has highlighted two more aspiring leakers. OpenLeaks will not publish directly but will receive and anonymise information; and Brussels Leaks is apparently the creation of disaffected former Eurocrats dedicated to exposing ‘dodgy dealings’ in Europe (http://web.resourceshelf.com/go/resourceblog/62550)
Brussels Leaks (http://brusselsleaks.com) has a few pages up but doesn’t appear to offer any bootleg documents yet, while at the time of writing OpenLeaks (http://www.openleaks.org) is just one web page with a large logo and the simple message: ‘Coming soon’. Meanwhile the Russian news agency RIA Novosty reports that the blogger and journalist Alexei Navalny, who has apparently made repeated calls for greater transparency in Russian business practices, has created his own whistleblowing site modelled on WikiLeaks (http://www.rospil.info), although it too is only operating in test mode at the moment (http://digbig.com/5bdcgq).
Until this year, few people had heard the name of WikiLeaks’ leader Julian Assange; when the organisation was first formed, the identities of the people behind it were – perhaps justifiably – kept secret (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e3). Since then it’s been on a roller coaster ride, almost ceasing operations earlier this year because of shortage of funds (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27868) and possibly contemplating a wholesale move of its operations from Sweden to Iceland if that country continues on its path of reinventing itself as a haven for free speech (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e29698).
We had a hint of the Assange abrasiveness last year when a bad tempered WikiLeaks editorial lambasted Twitterers for claiming the credit in the Trafigura toxic waste dumping scandal (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e25813). Now, finally, he may have done WikiLeaks a critical disservice by ‘becoming the story’ – and opened up opportunities for imitators and rivals as a result.
If any of these do eventually start delivering properly, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be stable sources of intelligence; Cryptome for example claims to be attacked ‘several times a day’, usually by bots (http://digbig.com/5bdcgp). So merely keeping track of them will be just one of many new challenges for information managers concerned with due diligence, competitor analysis or simple damage limitation – and it’s still unclear how prepared companies are to meet the threat.
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