Wikileaks is a website that allows anonymous whistleblowers to disseminate sensitive or embarrassing documents online. These could be anything from evidence of corruption and bribery in government to corporate wrongdoings to secret military interrogation manuals. While the ability to publish anonymously does have potential for abuse, it is also a valuable public service. There are plenty of barriers that prevent people from becoming whistleblowers, even when there is massive evidence of wrongdoing. Having technological mechanisms to aid the process – and reduce the dangers of retribution – thus serves the public interest. Particularly in places where governments are undermining traditional forms of public and legal oversight, such as in the treatment of terrorist suspects, there is extra value in whatever sources of information remain accessible.
As of today, the site is suffering from a California court decision that required Dynadot – the domain name registry that associates the URL ‘Wikileaks.org’ with an IP address – to “prevent the domain name from resolving to the wikileaks.org Web site or any other Web site or server other than a blank park page until further notice.” This doesn’t make the site inaccessible, since the server can be accessed directly at http://22.214.171.124/, but it will prevent a good number of people from finding it. The ruling arose from proceedings involving Julius Baer – a Swiss bank that leaks have implicated in tax evasion and money laundering in the Cayman Islands. In addition to the DNS restriction, the site is apparently suffering from a denial of service attack, probably orchestrated by one or more organizations the site has embarrassed.
The final result of this will be an interesting development in the ongoing battle to control what kind of information can be distributed online, whether that can be done anonymously or not, and which jurisdictions are most accommodating towards such activities.