Website wants to take whistleblowing online
Deep Throat may be moving to a new address — online.
A new website that will use Wikipedia's open-editing format is hoping to become a place where whistleblowers can post documents without fear of being traced.
Wikileaks, according to the group's website, will be "an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.
"Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations," the group said on wikileaks.org.
The group expects to fullylaunch the site in February or March 2007, according to the website.
When an e-mail is posted to a website, it can normally be traced back to its source because the data packet carrying the e-mail also contains the address of the last server it passed through. Wikileaks uses an anonymous protocol known as The Onion Router, or Tor, which encodes routing information in a set of encrypted layers to hide its path.
One expert told the New Scientist magazine that the encryption the site uses may not be enough to protect whistleblowers.
"I would not trust my life or even my liberty to Tor," Ben Laurie, a London-based computer security expert, told the UK-based magazine.
Little is known about the group that's putting Wikileaks together, although it claims on the website to have 22 people involved in the operation andlists a Washington, DC, phone number.
The group did not respond to an interview request, but last week, spokeswoman Hanna De Jong told a U.S. government trade publication, the Federal Times, thatthe group's advisory board includes journalists, cryptographers, a former U.S. intelligence analyst and expatriates from Russian and Tibetan refugee communities.
Steven Aftergood, head of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, said in a blog post that he has concerns about the automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records.
"In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste," he wrote in a January 3 posting of the FAS blog Secrecy News.
The group said it has no ties to Wikipedia and took the "Wiki" name only as a reference to the popular encyclopedia's open-editing format, which allows users to submit and edit entries on the site.