We all know the story by now: Whistle-blowing website gets a few big scoops, annoys a government or ten and gets itself cut off by the ‘neutrals’ that it relies on. Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have all pulled the plug on helping Wikileaks take donations, while late last week EveryDNS and Amazon put a spanner or two in the works by removing DNS and hosting services respectively.
Not to worry though – at last count there were over 500 ‘mirrors’ of the Wikileaks site with more appearing each day.
Now the plot has thickened. The ‘Anonymous’ group of hackers that, apparently, have links to 4chan have started fighting back by launching DDoS attacks against the websites of companies that they believe to be anti-Wikileaks. The most notable casualty, so far, has been Mastercard whose website has been intermittently unavailable but Paypal, Visa, PostFinance, and the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office have also been targeted.
The information that Wikileaks releases is certainly newsworthy, but the real ‘media’ story has been focused on its founder – Julian Assange. Does knowing that the Saudis don’t really like Iran make my life more fulfilled? Not really. Did I take much notice when I found out that China are starting to get fed up with North Korea? Nope. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one either.
The real discussion point is whether this ‘secret’ information should be in the public domain. On the one hand we, as humans, are inherently nosey. Wikileaks is just another gossip column that gives us something to talk about and dissect as if we really know what we’re talking about. On the other this information could, potentially, lead to war.
Personally I can see why people want Wikileaks to continue and up until the latest furor I believed it was adding value. My concern is that telling the world about a few rogue soldiers who committed crimes of torture in Iraq is very different to releasing lists of potential terrorist targets and information on which government wants another one taken down. It’s all about scale and there’s a real danger that Wikileaks has outgrown itself.