Monday, January 24, 2011

WikiLeaks Defectors Create OpenLeaks

By Jerry Smith Jan 24 2011

WikiLeaks defectors Herbert Snorrason, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and others have started a new site called 'OpenLeaks'. Their goal is to create a site in which anonymous sources can submit information while remaining anonymous.

When asked about OpenLeaks Assange said "The supply of leaks is very large. It's helpful for us to have more people in this industry. It's protective to us." Herbert Snorasson said their website will not compete with WikiLeaks, and Assange himself agreed.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg was the head of communications at WikiLeaks. He quit in September calling WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a paranoid control freak, and said he believes the problem with WikiLeaks is they are trying to do too many things and reinvent too many wheels.

Former WikiLeaks whistle-blower and OpenLeaks co-founder Herbert Snorasson said "I personally left WikiLeaks after Julian said to me, 'I am the heart and soul of this organization and if you have a problem with me you can piss off.' I do not want to have any sort of person who believes themselves entitled to say something like that. WikiLeaks has a centralized spot where it takes on an awful lot of work, an awful lot of responsibility and an awful lot of power. Our aim is to disperse all of those".

According to Domscheit-Berg, WikiLeaks is not just allowing companies and individuals to make public information that might not otherwise be made public, it is also pronouncing judgement on that information and choosing which information to release based on its own political goals.

Domscheit-Berg says OpenLeaks, which may be fully operational in the summer of 2011, will focus on the former goal. He said he hopes that his organization, through a better division of labor, will avoid the concentration of power that WikiLeaks experienced in the hands of founder Julian Assange.

Domscheit-Berg went on to say the process by which leaks are released to the public is a complex process involving multiple steps from receiving submissions, to decrypting and anonymizing them to remove all identifiable origins, reviewing the documents for publication and then deciding if the information is worth knowing and publishing accordingly. .

Herbert Snorrason said "Most digital documents provide meta data. Microsoft Word for instance embeds information on the author and the organization of the author in pretty much every document it produces. We aim to strip that information out of the files before the media or the recipient has a look at it. This can be done more or less automatically. We are a mere conduit".

"If somewhere in the chain you do not have enough manpower, the whole process will be impacted, and you experience bottlenecks," Domscheit-Berg said, "Getting rid of those bottlenecks is part of the process we have to achieve."

Domscheit-berg claims OpenLeaks will serve as an interface between leakers and media platforms, a way of "distributing sources from people to people with an interest in distributing those materials". He also said under the OpenLeaks model, leakers can anonymously submit documents, identify which media outlets they would like these leaks sent to, and specify the amount of time journalists should have to review these documents. If these leaks are not published by the chosen platforms in the allotted time, they will be distributed between all media organizations affiliated with the website.

"The only person that should have an opinion on this is the source," said Domscheit-berg, "As a service provider you need to be neutral."

Snorasson said OpenLeaks is still debating where and how to provide redactions in documents, and may only do so if there is "risk of serious assault or death to specific individuals".

OpenLeaks was supposed to begin testing this month but it has been delayed until an undetermined date, in part because Domscheit-Berg is said to be busy with other things.

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