Julian Assange lost his final extradition bid after almost a year of appeals, so he’ll face rape charges in Sweden. Wikileaks recently suspended publishing due to their inability to process credit card donations, and it’s been a while since they published anything new, presumably because nothing happens without Assange’s OK and he’s been consumed with his legal issues. Needless to say, today’s developments will only make that worse.
It’s surprising to me that no clear alternative to Wikileaks has emerged in the past year. Part of the reason is that it’s harder than it looks, as security expert Christopher Soghoian explained in a Times op-ed last week:
But if the hallmark of quality journalism is the ability to protect confidential sources, then WikiLeaks should, in fact, be seen as a beacon of best practices. In contrast to the shameful practices of most journalists, WikiLeaks has spectacular operational security: encrypted instant messages are used for all real-time communications, strong encryption technology is used to protect files as they are passed between individuals, and servers are hidden using the Tor Project, a popular privacy tool that enables anonymous communication.
Whatever one thinks of Mr. Assange, he is a skilled data security expert. He knows an awful lot more about information security than even the most tech-savvy journalist. His platform appears to have worked: none of WikiLeaks’s confidential sources have ever been exposed by the organization. (Bradley E. Manning, the detained Army private who has been accused of the leak, was exposed by an acquaintance.)
Until journalists take their security obligations seriously, it will be safer to leak something to WikiLeaks — or groups like it — than to the mainstream press.