The continuing survival of WikiLeaks is a testament to the planning work carried out for the venture. Business, social and community disruptors take note – those currently in power don’t take kindly to disruptors. WikiLeaks is a disruption for states, diplomats and the military-industrial complex.
More than ever WikiLeaks, a not-for-profit media organisation, is under POLITICAL ATTACK by states. Foreign policy heads of the U.S., Australia, France and Saudi Arabia have all sent negative signals about WikiLeaks.
In the information age, for WikiLeaks and its media allies (the New York Times and a few other traditional news publishers are paying WikiLeaks in its current “first look” payment arrangement), information is an asset, currency and tool.
It’s a disruption because for states the game is about secrecy. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is quoted saying today: “The Australian government unequivocally condemns the action by any of those responsible for the unauthorised release of classified and confidential information and diplomatic communications between states.”
- Legal research question: What legal cover has WikiLeaks relied on for its survival? Consider U.S. law and its protection of free speech under the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution; Australia has nothing equivalent. Consider also the organisational structure of WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks is also under TECHNOLOGICAL ATTACK, including denial of service attacks. We are in a world where states wage war, cyberwarfare, denial of service attacks and release software Trojans and other malware to bring down the infrastructure of other states or organisations.
Denial of service attacks led to WikiLeaks last month shifting its http://wikileaks.org domain to Amazon’s higher-grade servers.
- Legal research question: What legal basis do states have, if any, for authorising denial of service attacks against websites such as WikiLeaks?
Over the last week WikiLeaks has come under sustained ECONOMIC ATTACK – U.S. corporations cut off its hosting facility (Amazon), cut off its domain name registration service (EveryDNS.net), and cut off its donation receipt or funding mechanism (PayPal). While this has happened before with PayPal, this time it seems permanent for WikiLeaks.
- Legal research question: Do the terms of service contracts of those hosting, domain name and ecommerce services permit them to terminate their service to WikiLeaks? Note Amazon and Paypal have issued statements, but what is your analysis?
At the time of writing WikiLeaks is still alive as a site, now hosted in Switzerland (by Switch, set up says the Guardian by the government of Switzerland), using a .ch domain (http://www.wikileaks.ch), and mirrored onto 76 sites. Earthtimes reports that U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, told the newspaper Sonntag that the Swiss government should not grant asylum to Assange.
Survival may not be for much longer, including for Julian Assange who leads WikiLeaks, given the serious criminal charges which might be mounted against him in Sweden and now pushed by Interpol. Further, Australia’s Federal Attorney General has asked the Australian Federal Police to look for Australian laws that may have been broken by Assange and his association with WikiLeaks.
- Legal research question: Has Julian Assange breached any Australian law in his involvement in the release of classified U.S. Government documents on WikiLeaks? Reference: Don’t Cry for WikiLeaks by Associate Professor Ben Saul, co-director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney.
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