With every new day the WikiLeaks saga seems to reveal another story line. As the expression goes, “you can’t make this stuff up.” In the process, it’s highlighting rapidly changing — and often unstable — elements in Internet-based communication.
First let’s take the emerging model of cyber attacks. People no longer just get angry at home or in bars, they attack those they disagree with online. First supporters of WikiLeaks were subjected to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, then companies and organizations deemed against WikiLeaks were targeted. Network World has a good roundup.
Many have questioned the obligations of cloud computing companies in the wake of Amazon dumping WikiLeaks as a customer, under pressure from the U.S. government. Here’s the New York Times on that angle, and here’s the view from a cloud computing blog focused on the federal market.
John Battelle wonders if Google should “mirror” WikiLeaks, making sure they would be able to continue disseminating information. Personally I believe strongly in transparency, and that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Too much secrecy begats incompetence, corruption and tyranny.
But does it trump all other considerations? Would this be a PR masterstroke by Google, or a disaster? A provocative question to be sure, but isn’t Google indexing the files enough? The story comments are almost universally against the idea.
Finally, what happens when governments decide to block or divert Internet traffic? This isn’t directly related to WikiLeaks, but last week a congressionally chartered commission decided that in April of this year a company owned by China deliberately diverted roughly 15% of the world’s Internet traffic. The reasons are unknown, and China denies the accusation. The PBS Newshour did a great discussion around this danger.
This story looks to keep on giving, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatening to unleash a “poison pill” if he is imprisoned or killed. The file supposedly contains a huge amount of leaked information that is totally unredacted and secured by 256 bit encryption. He’s currently in prison in Britain and fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning regarding a sex crimes investigation from August of this year. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.
I can’t wait for the next chapter. But along with the drama, I hope there will be some positive benefits. Maybe WikiLeaks will lead to more awareness around how the Internet can be abused, and how it needs to be made more secure.