Sanger, a philosopher and expert on collaborative online communities, was chief organizer of Wikipedia from 2001 to 2002, as well as editor-in-chief of its predecessor Nupedia, and founder of Citizendium, which aims to bring more accountability to online encyclopedias. In the lead-up to WikiLeaks’ latest dump of confidential documents, he ended up in a distinctly robust conversation with WikiLeaks defenders.
“I in no way want wikis associated with the travesty that is Wikileaks — that’s all,” Sanger told one participant.
Certainly there’s been “brand confusion” between wikis (easy-to-edit collaborative websites), Wikipedia (the encyclopedia run as a public wiki), MediaWiki (the specific software used by Wikipedia), the WikiMedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia and similar projects such as Wiktionary and Wikiversity — and http://wikileaks.org/ WikiLeaks, which has nothing to do with them and isn’t much of a wiki anyway.
“Speaking as Wikipedia’s co-founder, I consider you enemies of the US — not just the government, but the people,” Sanger told WikiLeaks. “What you’ve been doing to us is breathtakingly irresponsible and can’t be excused with pieties of free speech and openness,” he said.
Sanger’s criticisms are nothing new.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a respected watchdog on national security issues as they relate to science and technology — from surveillance to nuclear weapons. On their Secrecy News blog they’ve written that WikiLeaks gives leaks a bad name and fails due diligence.
“[C]alling WikiLeaks a whistleblower site does not accurately reflect the character of the project. It also does not explain why others who are engaged in open government, anti-corruption and whistleblower protection activities are wary of WikiLeaks or disdainful of it. And it does not provide any clue why the Knight Foundation Knight Foundation, the preeminent foundation funder of innovative First Amendment and free press initiatives, might have rejected WikiLeaks’ request for financial support, as it recently did…
“In fact, WikiLeaks must be counted among the enemies of open society because it does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals.”
John Young has been publishing leaked documents at Cryptome since 1996 with none of the cloak-and-dagger surrounding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. He originally consented to WikiLeaks using his name to register their internet domain but has since been a scathing critic.
“I participated in the mail list discussion I did not leave willingly. I was unsubscribed after I criticised a grandiose funding raising target of $5million is one year. Thus I was never inside WikiLeaks but I believe there is nobody inside WikiLeaks,” Young writes. “WikiLeaks wants to make a lot of money … It is a business pretending to be a public service initiative … Wikileaks [seeks publicity] by issuing press releases, taunting the media, orchestrating bombshell releases, glamorising Julian Assange, behaving mysteriously, exaggerating threats by powerful forces, exaggerating the value of what it publishes, editorialises about its publications excessively.”
Meanwhile, a hacker known only as th3j35t3r (pronounced “The Jester”) has been doing a bit of the ol’ “deal with them accordingly”.
WikiLeaks’ website is currently offline — not due to excessive traffic but a denial of service (DoS) attack for which th3j35t3r has taken responsibility. “www.wikileaks.org – TANGO DOWN – INDEFINITLEY – for threatening the lives of our troops and ‘other assets’,” he or she tweeted around 4am AEDT, “tango down” being military slang for “target destroyed”.
“If I was a wikileaks ‘source’ right now I’d be getting a little twitchy, if they cant protect their own site, how can they protect a src?” th3j35t3r tweeted.
th3j35t3r has previously conducted DoS attacks against websites he or she associates with al-Qaeda and jihadists, and claims to be an ex-soldier with “a rather famous unit, country purposely not specified”.