Wikilinks is a website devoted to disclosing leaked materials, including confidential information, with the aim of discouraging unethical and illegal behaviour by corporations and governments.
The site currently includes:
- leaked documents showing that the US military in Iraq is equipped with anti-personnel chemical weapons in contravention of US-ratified treaties prohibiting the use of such chemical weapons in warfare.
- the suppressed auditor's report detailing the extent and details of the corruption by former Kenyan Prime Minister Daniel Moi, including the purchase of 10,000 hectares of land in Australia with stolen money.
- The use of psychologists by US forces at Gitmo while torturing prisoners (I'm old enough to remember the US roundly criticizing the USSR for doing more or less the same thing).
- Secret trust structures used for money laundering and tax evasion and to hide assets by Swiss bank Julius Baer.
- A leaked German report showing that some of the people in charge of former Stasi files are themselves ex-Stasi.
Just under two weeks ago, a US judge ordered that the Wikilinks site be shut down. Specifically, the judge ordered that the hosting company remove the Wikilinks domain name. Naturally, to those who understand how the Internet works, that's no barrier to accessing the site, domain name or no domain name. Even the New York Times didn't hesitate to describe the judge's action as "feeble":
The feebleness of the action suggests that the bank, and the judge, did not understand how the domain system works or how quickly Web communities will move to counter actions they see as hostile to free speech online.
The site itself could still be accessed at its Internet Protocol (IP) address (http://126.96.36.199/) — the unique number that specifies a Web site’s location on the Internet. Wikileaks also maintained “mirror sites,” which are copies of itself, usually to insure against outages and this kind of legal action. These sites were registered in countries like Belgium (http://wikileaks.be/), Germany (wikileaks.de), and the Christmas Islands (http://wikileaks.cx) through domain registrars other that Dynadot, and so were not affected by the injunction.
Fans of the site and its mission rushed to publicize those alternate addresses this week. They have also distributed copies of the sensitive bank information on their own sites and via peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
Yesterday, the judge rescinded his own order, lifting the ineffective injunction.
I have high hopes that this site will be around for a long time.