The global publicity resulting from the publication of the US diplomatic cables in the Guardian, New York Times, Wikileaks and other newspapers during the past two weeks has focused attention on the power of leaking.
Now several new operations are joining the fray by offering wikileaks-type portals.
Yesterday, Brussels Leaks was set up by anonymous founders, who cited WikiLeaks as its inspiration. The site welcomes tips-offs, files, and other disclosures about issues of social, environmental or political importance in Europe.
Having worked in Brussels for a long while now in various capacities we know (as anyone who works in political fields in Brussels for a short space of time) that plenty of big decisions are made on the basis of individual whims, be it whims shaped through connections to lobby groups, consultants or NGOs. Not all are bad, of course, but we’ve heard about a lot of decisions made based on questionable sources of information…There are plenty of good people in powerful positions who too often see shocking information pass them by. How do we know this? We’ve been there.
Another site that has been in the works for some time is Openleaks which is spearheaded by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who split from WikiLeaks in September after clashing with founder Julian Assange. I interviewed Daniel in September for my book and he outlined to me this new site which would de-centralise the publication of leaks.
Openleaks will allow leakers to anonymously submit information to a secure online drop box. The site won’t publish the information itself but will allow leakers to specify their preferred publication outlets whether that be through the media, trade union or an NGO. This is a good plan as it is through the centralised publication and the identifiable figurehead of Julian Assange that Wikileaks is most vulnerable.
Russian political activist and blogger Alexei Navalny, has set up his own whistleblowing site. Interestingly, Assange was dismissive of Chinese activists who hoped to set up a WikiLeaks type project in that country. He told Forbes magazine:
It’s not something that’s easy to do right…We encouraged them to come to us to work with us. It would be nice to have more Chinese speakers working with us in a dedicated way. But what they’d set up had no meaningful security. They have no reputation you can trust. It’s very easy and very dangerous to do it wrong.
If you know of any other Wikileaks inspired sites then do let me know.