OpenLeaks vs WikiLeaks

SUBHEAD: Openleaks, WikiLeaks rival, to launch as break away From 'Slave Driver' Assange.
By Staff on 10 December 2010 from Huffington Post -

Image above: Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg in September. Photo by David Applebaum.

[Editor's note: This sounds to me like a cooptation that will actually cut-out the "openess" out of the WikiLeaks phenomenon. The crucial line in this article is "the new site will differ in that it won't be responsible for hosting the information itself directly for the public eye". This is no small matter. OpenLeaks will only be a middleman in the flow of leaks between anonymous whislte-blowers and "respectable" mass-media outlets (i.e. New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, UK Guardian) who will filter the material before consumption by the public. Sounds like a CIA compromise; - one the powers that be might be able to accept, if it means cutting out real transparency and that pesky public.]

Several key members involved with online whistleblower WikiLeaks are said to be deserting beleaguered founder Julian Assange to form their own rival site, Openleaks, reportedly expected to launch Monday.

According to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the new site will be called "Openleaks," and like its predecessor, will allow whistleblowers to leak information to the public anonymously.
However, the new site will differ in that it won't be responsible for hosting the information itself directly for the public eye, but will instead act as an intermediary between whistleblowers and media organizations.

"Our long term goal is to build a strong, transparent platform to support whistleblowers--both in terms of technology and politics--while at the same time encouraging others to start similar projects," a colleague wishing to remain anonymous is quoted by Dagens Nyheter as saying.

In a documentary by Swedish broadcaster SVT, obtained in advance by the Associated Press, former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg said the new website will work as an outlet for anonymous sources. The AP quotes some excerpts of the documentary:
"Openleaks is a technology project that is aiming to be a service provider for third parties that want to be able to accept material from anonymous sources," Domscheit-Berg said.
Domscheit-Berg, who during his time with WikiLeaks often went under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, said he quit the project after falling out with Assange over what he described as the lack of transparency in the group's decision-making process. "If you preach transparency to everyone else you have to be transparent yourself. You have to fulfill the same standards you expect from others, and I think that's where we've not been heading in the same direction philosophically anymore," he said in the documentary.
Members involved in the new site's formation are also reportedly incensed by what they describe as Assange's "autocratic" behavior, and believe the rival site will be more "democratically governed." In addition, many believe Assange's ongoing rape controversy is damaging WikiLeaks' reputation worldwide, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

OpenLeaks Explained

SUBHEAD: Ex-Wikileaks staffer explains his spin-off group OpenLeaks.

 By Andy Greenberg on 9 December 2010 in Forbes -  
Former WikiLeaks staffer Daniel Domscheit-Berg has always considered Julian Assange’s whistle-blowing site a two-pipe operation: One pipe takes submissions in from anonymous leakers, another publishes them out to an uncensorable web site.

But since defecting from WikiLeaks in September and watching the global controversy build around the secret-spilling organization, he’s taking a different approach with his own leak-focused project: Keep the anonymous submissions channel. Ditch the controversial and resource-draining publishing piece altogether.

The German Domscheit-Berg, along with several other former Wikileaks staffers, plans to launch a website they’re calling OpenLeaks as early as next week, Domscheit-Berg told Forbes in an interview. Like WikiLeaks, the new site will allow leakers to anonymously submit information to a secure online dropbox. But unlike its parent site, it won’t publish that information itself. Instead, it will allow the source to designate any media or non-governmental organizations he or she chooses and have that information passed on for fact-checking, redaction and publication.

That difference, argues Domscheit-Berg, will allow OpenLeaks to accomplish much of the transparency achieved by WikiLeaks, without drawing the same political fury and legal pressure.

“To constrain the power of the site, we’re splitting submission from the publication part. We won’t publish any documents ourselves. The whole field is diversified,” says Domscheit-Berg. “No single organization carries all of the responsibility or all of the workload.”

Resource constraints, as Assange told me in an interview last month, have forced WikiLeaks to choose only its “highest impact” material for publication. But those constraints have also politicized WikiLeaks and forced it to make subjective decisions about its targets, Domscheit-Berg argues. “We want to be a neutral conduit,” he says. “That’s what’s most politically sustainable as well.”

OpenLeaks will integrate with the organizations it passes information to, functioning as a secure tip box on their sites. Those organizations can choose to store leaked information on their own servers or leave it in the hands of OpenLeaks, Domscheit-Berg says. “All this is cryptographically separated in a fashion that everyone has their own dedicated part of the system,” he says.

The project will initially partner with five newspapers worldwide, but soon expand to anyone who wants to participate. “Newspapers, NGOs, labor unions, anyone who wants to receive information from anonymous sources, we enable all these people to run something like this,” says Domscheit-Berg.

And if the recipient organization chooses not to publish a leak? After a time designated by the source, the leaked material can be sent to other media outlets. “If a newspaper doesn’t publish it, it will be shared,” says Domscheit-Berg. “They can’t just put it in a drawer.”

Domscheit-Berg left WikiLeaks in September after a dispute with Assange over the site’s technical quality, its focus on infrequent, high volume leaks, and over Assange’s singular control of the organization even as he was charged with sex crimes in Sweden, as Domscheit-Berg revealed in an interview at the time with Der Spiegel. WikiLeaks has said that he “was suspended and then left of his own accord.” Domscheit-Berg will no doubt tell his own story in detail in an upcoming book planned for January titled Inside WikiLeaks.

As for descriptions that have emerged in the media of his site as a “competitor” to WikiLeaks, Domscheit-Berg says that’s a misunderstanding of his mission. “The people working on it don’t think WikiLeaks is headed in the right direction,” he says. “But what we’re aiming at is fundamentally so different that we don’t see it as competition.”

When I asked Assange about his thoughts on Domscheit-Berg’s project last month, he also rejected the “competition” idea. “The supply of leaks is very large,” said Assange. “It’s helpful for us to have more people in this industry. It’s protective to us.”

More WikiLeaks copycats and spinoffs fighting for their right to exist would no doubt help diffuse the controversy around WikiLeaks, as it struggles against governments around the world that want to shut the site down through both legal and technical means.

But Domscheit-Berg wants to distance OpenLeaks from WikiLeaks, and says he has no intention of sharing the controversy that WikiLeaks has fueled since it published the first of a quarter million secret diplomatic cables last week. “I never knew about any diplomatic cables,” he adds. “You can’t imagine how happy I am to be out of this thing.”


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