March 28, 2009
March Madness. When WikiLeaks first started as a “whistle-blowing” site not long ago, they knew they would be in for some major fights in their quest to to get the truth out in the form of leaked documents. Somehow, despite lawsuit-happy suits, government thugs, and technical glitches, they managed to survive and even thrive to get privileged insider information out. But March 2009 is becoming a major test for the sunshine site because of lists of “banned” sites that they posted.
Things actually started last December when they published Denmark’s secret censorship site list, which includes some 3863 sites as of February 2009, with some legitimate sites being caught in the anti-child porn hysteria.
The list is generated without judicial or public oversight and is kept secret by the ISPs using it. Unaccountability is intrinsic to such a secret censorship system.
The list has been leaked because cases such as Thailand and Finland demonstrate that once a secret censorship system is established for pornographic content the same system can rapidly expand to cover other material, including political material, at the worst possible moment — when government needs reform.
On March 18, they published Norway’s blacklist for the same reason. Then Australia chimed in, and things started getting nasty…
Down Under Lowdown. Australia is preparing its own Internet “filtering” scam… scheme… whatever, and already the dingo-do is hitting the fans. The Australian Communications and Media Authority, or ACMA, said that it would fine anyone who hyperlinked to a banned site $11K/day. They threatened the host of an Internet forum with the fine for a link to a US anti-abortion site (link) to flex their muscles, then added WikiLeaks to their blacklist. WikiLeaks then published the ACMA’s blacklist (Latest version).
Things started to get personal Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Steven Conroy, threaten to go after WikiLeaks and their source. WikiLeaks’ response:
“Under the Swedish Constitution’s Press Freedom Act, the right of a confidential press source to anonymity is protected, and criminal penalties apply to anyone acting to breach that right.
Wikileaks source documents are received in Sweden and published from Sweden so as to derive maximum benefit from this legal protection. Should the Senator or anyone else attempt to discover our source we will refer the matter to the Constitutional Police for prosecution, and, if necessary, ask that the Senator and anyone else involved be extradited to face justice for breaching fundamental rights.”
Senator Conroy may wish to consider the position of the South African Competition Commission, which decided to cancel its own high profile leak investigation in January after being advised of the legal ramifications of interfering with Sunshine Press sources.
For the record, WikiLeaks is based in Stockholm.
Gestapo Tactics. Given the leaks of the censorship blacklists so far, it seems that the German police raid of the home of the WikiLeaks.de domain owner is more than just a coincidence. “Distribution of pornography”… “Discovery of evidence” … Rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhttttt! You can see the documents about the raid here.
This may only be the beginning of a war against WikiLeaks. We’ll keep you advised of any major developments to come… assuming Cyberpunk Review hasn’t been added to some super-secret NSAT&T/RIAA/MPAA/UN blacklist…