Rebooting the News #75

In Podcast on December 6, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the mp3.

As Dave said Dec. 3rd, “We’re having a Rebooting The News moment here with WikiLeaks.” Indeed. Now we know how the open Net comes crashing down.

* First came the denial of service attacks. (Dave: “How do we know that?”)
* Next, Amazon Web Services kicked Wikileaks off its cloud servers.
* Then it was, which stopped serving the domain
* Then Tableau Software removed data visualizations Wikileaks had running there.
* Then PayPal started choking off the air supply: donations.
* The U.S. Library of Congress even got into the act, shutting down access to Wikileaks at its terminals.

Look who is not on this list: Twitter. That’s important!

Dave at Scripting News: “When does the situation reach equilibrium? What’s the best outcome for the people of the planet? It seems to me that at the end of this chain is BitTorrent…. when WikiLeaks wants to publish the next archive, they can get their best practice from, and have 20 people scattered around the globe at the ends of various big pipes ready to seed it. Once the distribution is underway the only way to shut it down will be to shut down the Internet itself.”

@xenijardin writes on Twitter: Great idea “@hrana: surprised @wikileaks hasn’t set up utorrent compatible RSS feed to automatically distribute updated #cablegate archives” (Dave: that’s what the two technologies were made for.)

Wired in July:

“In the wake of strong U.S. government statements condemning WikiLeaks’ recent publishing of 77,000 Afghan War documents, the secret-spilling site has posted a mysterious encrypted file labeled ‘insurance.’ The huge file, posted on the Afghan War page at the WikiLeaks site, is 1.4 GB and is encrypted with AES256. The file’s size dwarfs the size of all the other files on the page combined. The file has also been posted on a torrent download site.”

Assange is quoted as follows: ““We have over a long period of time distributed encrypted backups of material we have yet to release. All we have to do is release the password to that material, and it is instantly available.”

Dave: We need new institutions, that is what it comes down to. One he looks to is the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard: “Is it time to ‘do something’ to create a haven for the free web?”

Dave took some heat for this at Scripting News: Boycott of Amazon? Not doing it.

Stowe Boyd, commenting to Cloud Computing Journal, looks to the Greenpeace model:

“I think ultimately WikiLeaks should become a global non-profit like Greenpeace, specifically organized to accomplish certain goals for the sake of the world, like exposing who is funding political action when laws allow it to be concealed (as in the US), or exposing the inner workings of unregulated or barely regulated industries… It should be organized like Greenpeace, as a federation of non-profits in the various countries, supported by activists in the member countries. Wikileaks is not organized in that fashion today, and it should be.”

Time’s Joe Klein: “If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in ‘freedom’ stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He’s the one who should be in jail.”

New York Times public editor: Assange is scum, and the Times did a great job publishing the documents he gave to the press.

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian: “Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure.”

Jay: A journalist I know wrote to me today: “I’ve thinking about your wikileaks posts – the project I’m working on now concerns a large government database that was leaked to us. We’ve been doing months of reporting to find the personal stories, connect the dots and get photos. A dilemma we face is how to release as much of the information as possible, and allow users to add to what we have, without putting the source or the newspaper in greater legal risk. It’s not a new problem, but wikileaks — and the imperative of getting as much of the info out as possible – is on everyone’s mind.”

Reporters Without Borders statement on Wikileaks: “This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.”

Jay: The big divide we can see opening up is between those who are statist, who look out for the interests of the state and identify with it, and civil society. Journalists who don’t understand that their fortunes are bound up with civil society are not competent to practice their craft.

Jay: still the best thing I have read for understanding Assange. Alan Bady (zunguzungu) Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government”.

At Jay’s Posterous, Dec. 4: Julian Assange Ducks the Question A Lot of Us Have About Wikileaks. 12,000 views and 130 comments as of showtime.

Jay’s video, Dec. 2: The watchdog press failed; what we have is Wikileaks instead.

Jay’s PressThink post from July: The world’s first stateless news organization.

Here’s the show; hope you like it.

16 Responses to “Rebooting the News #75”

  1. As to Twitter, this might be of interest:

    “Twitter is censoring the discussion of #Wikileaks”

  2. […] Rebooting the News #75 […]

  3. Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 729 sites (updated 2010-12-06 22:32 GMT)

  4. I am also curious of your take o Twitter’s possible censoring of Wikileaks-related hashtags. I played with and saw a similar pattern of #wikileaks receiving better traffic than the trending topics listed for the United States (topics pulled at 11pm Mtn. time).
    Looking through every region, there are no wikileaks hashtags trending on Twitter. Conducting a search for the trending topics and #wikileaks shows new posts containing the trending topics appearing at roughly the same rate, if not slightly slower rate thank #wikileaks.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on how Twitter’s algorithm selects it’s trending topics.

  5. Provoking Amazon and PayPal’s reactions has exposed the frailty of the “open” internet to a wider audience than just insiders like Dave. Sounds like a good thing.

    That WL leaks the files in slow-motion is no mystery, Assange did interviews explaining that they are trying different approaches to get maximum exposure for their sources. And bittorrent is a nice solution if your problem is data distribution, but WLs real problem is getting people’s attention.

  6. The strategy to put Wikileaks on the web rather than through BitTorrent (please) seems to be to highlight the issues that have arisen, such as the issue with Amazon and PayPal. It’s giving the “opposition” the chance to shut them down. Essentially they can’t as Hanan above points out, it’s mirrored on 729 sites and rising. If you thought this through, the very fact that it is going down is making the news… not going down is not gonna make the news.

    Wikileaks is teasing the establishment and it’s biting.

    Why not release all the data now? Would you? Keep something back, leave something to negotiate with – keep them guessing. I don’t play poker but it seems to me that you don’t show all your cards at once.

  7. […] a Good Thing Again? and Wikileaks’ Assange May be TIME’s Person of the Year and Rebooting the News #75 and Wikileaked […]

  8. […] Jay did a kickass summary of RBTN #75 re the myriad confusing implications of the emerging WikiLeaks story. […]

  9. Prof. Rosen,

    I’ve asked this question over at Kommons, but I figured I’d place it here as well:

    What are the components of an “accountability system” and how do our current institutions implement them?


  10. Enjoyed the show.

    A comment in response to Dave questioning why WikiLeaks has not used P2P Technology from the beginning….
    Its a good observation and ultimately we may see this become a more visible part of the process moving forward but the reality is that once Wikileaks publishes new data, it ends up on P2P networks immediately by any number of people who are interested in supporting the efforts. This network effect is unstoppable and Wikileaks is aware of this. But as efforts to do traditional publishing of content on web servers and the network of mirrors continues to be hampered by technical, political and legal attacks, Wikileaks may need to revise their tactics and publish anonymously on P2P networks and announce the releases on any channel that they have active (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Websites).
    People who want to download the data will be able to even if their is not a direct link on the “web”. One very user-friendly a web-based P2P plugin that is well-suited for both the consumption and distribution is (founded by LimeWire co-founder). Keep an eye on that project in particular.

    Also, whether or not “manipulation” is part of Assange’s strategy… in response to Assange knowingly setup shop at companies that would likely shut Wikileaks accounts down to further demonstrate the state of affairs…. I see nothing wrong with this and in fact it is in my opinion twisting the knife that has already stabbed the system that Wikileaks is disrupting.

    Thanks for covering these topics so well.

  11. To the question posed regarding why Wikileaks does not just release all of the data that they possess…
    As far as I know, Wikileaks process is to analyze what they have first and make certain efforts to ascertain legal factors and various damages that may be consequential prior to release. Wikileaks does not immediately comprehend the data that they possess. Do to the quantity of info, it takes substantial time and resources to do any sort of assessment.

    It would be unwise for Wikileaks to release any and all data that they possess. They take on enough risk releasing what they do a how they do it. But their is a process and I think many people fail to realize this and/or fail to understand why this is important (for Wikileaks).

  12. […] Today, many of the state’s secrets are hosted on a website, available to the public to download and read at its leisure. In his infinite wisdom, Senator Joe Lieberman encouraged Amazon, who had been hosting Wikileaks website on one of its servers, to drop the controversial client. And ever since then, the resulting back and forth between corporate entities pulling the rug out from under Wikileaks and hackers responding to the corporate/political bullying has been a fascinating digital tennis match. First Amazon boots Wikileaks from its servers, then Mastercard stops processing transactions that would send money to Wikileaks’ accounts, then PayPal suspends its role in processing donations. The response: anonymous distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) brought down Mastercard, VISA, and PayPal for brief periods of time on Wednesday, no small feat. And even though the address was shut down, Wikileaks’ presence on the web is stronger than ever. Facebook and Twitter have been dragged into the fray for continuing to allow Wikileaks to use accounts, through which supporters distribute information about how to find their websites. On the one hand, the two social media giants have been pressured to close down Wikileaks’ official accounts, which as of yet they have refused to do. On the other hand, they have suspended accounts that were being used by hackers to organize the DDOS strikes. Thus, safeguarding secrets is, because of the nature of the Internet, a game of Whack-a-mole. Dump from its DNS registrar, and Twitter becomes a human DNS, pointing people to the server holding the forbidden fruit they are looking for. [Rebooting the News #75] […]

  13. […] — in short form at PBS MediaShift, and at quite a bit more length with Dave Winer on their Rebooting the News […]

  14. […] του Dave Winer με τον Jay Rosen που μπορείτε να ακούσετε στο Rebooting the News #75, ασχολείται με αρκετά από τα θέματα που αναφέρω στο […]

  15. What article, or writer, has most impacted your thinking about WikiLeaks and the issues it’s raised?…

    The podcast discussion between self-described “friends of the Internet” Dave Winer and Jay Rosen was one of the most insightful things I’ve heard, especially Rosen’s riff on being a journalist for the sake of “creating conditions where people can …

  16. […] common threats to the open web in our societies comes from corporate control. As John Naughton, Jay Rosen and Dave Winer have argued, the way in which Amazon, PayPal and other companies barred Wikileaks from their online […]

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