Patrice Riemens on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 09:05:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two,

Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two

The Wikileaks Fracas: senseless challenge - or sensible defiance? (concluded)

(continued from the last paragraph in the previous installment)

Disagreements within the Wikileaks organization and Julian Assange's
incarceration led to a split and the foundation of Openleaks, a project
under development that aims at correcting the organizational imbalances of
Wikileaks [65]. In order "to foster whistleblowing and make it safer",
Openleaks strives to use shared tools, managed co-operatively by a group
having recognized expertise in data gathering. The goal is to avoid
hosting of incoming informations as such, but to provide instead those who
hold the information the means to act autonomously. It also wishes to
abstain from an outricht political opposition to governments, and hence,
by implication, wants to distance itself from the libertarian discourse

Before the advent of Wikileaks, sites publishing confidential documents
did exist, e.g. Cryptome, mentioned earlier. But the Wikileaks format for
sure did make a splash. Scores of local /-leaks/ saw the light of the day,
in France, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Venezuela for instance. Moving beyond
simple (Wikileaks) clones, different approaches were also tried, like
Wikispooks and Israelileaks. Meanwhile, big medias got busy setting up
safe communication channels in order to obtain spectacular material. /Al
Jazeera/, /The Wall Street Journal/ and /The New York Times/ are all in
this game [66]. Also in the game are agencies specialized in spying
services and associated software, as well as companies developing this
type of information gathering. None of them are very much public.
Globaleaks ( is the only project set up to study
the issue from a technical and philosophical (ethical) perspective and
which analyses how these structures could be run on a global scale by
hackers, while remaining trustworthy, agile, anonymous and free.

But whatever the set-up, the main points still remain transparency and
denunciation, which implies the existence of one single truth, since 'the
data speak for themselves'. All this would not be necessary in a society
where everybody would be on Facebook and would follow Mark Zuckerberg's
radical transparency doctrine to the letter. But would we be more free in
such a dispensation? The critiques leveled with regard to Facebook and
against the libertarian ideology suggest quite the opposite. Jaron Lanier,
the inventor of virtual reality and historic hacker if there is one, has
unequivocally pointed out the risks associated with this drift towards
/nerd supremacy/ [67]; Lawrence Lessig, liberal jurist and creator of the
Creative Commons licenses, has not been very positive about Wikileaks'
defense of total exposure, which he takes for a dangerous perversion of
the free speech principle so dear to Americans [68]. Of course these are
pleas which seek to  legitimate the status quo. But then (the question is)
how can hackers fight for freedom with radical interventions, but without
sliding down into libertarian babble?

Anonymous, or out-of-the-box activism (section 8)

Before making the headlines worldwide, that is before /cablegate/ on Iraq
and Afghanistan, Wikileaks had already published a lot of assorted hot
news, as for instance, about American secret services' ploy to assassinate
the Somalian prince Hassan Dahir Aweys in 2006, the totally inhuman
treatment inflicted to Guantanamo inmates by American authorities - not
even the Red Cross is allowed to visit (2007), and the rampant corruption
in Kenya president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi's close circle in 2008. That
year, as told by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, members of Anonymous approached
Wikileaks with internal documents of the church of Scientology. These were
published at once.

The case of the church of Scientology interests us precisely because it
relates to Anonymous, which has become the most talked about hackers group
over these past years. Though the Scientology church is a powerful
adversary its activities are far easier to uncover than many occult
dealings by traditional institutional apparatuses. The sect had managed to
silence quite a number of people who attempted to make information about
it public. Threats and intimidation, not to say persecution, have been
their fate especially in case of former members of the church. Anonymous'
Chanology Project started in January 2008 as answer to the church's
attempt to prevent airing of a Tom Cruise interview shedding a weird light
on the inner workings of Scientology. Before involving Wikileaks,
Anonymous posted on Youtube a video-clip with a "message to the Church of
Scientology"[69]. The two minutes clip's conclusion have become the most
emblematic motto of Anonymous: "Knowledge is Free. We are Anonymous. We
are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!" Anonymous
thereupon launched a serie of DDoS (/Distributed Denial-of-Service)
attacks to paralyse the sect's servers by overloading them with requests,
a type of attack that requires a certain amount of technical competence
[70]. Thus, the common thread connecting Wikileaks and Anonymous is
transparency, conceived as the (ultimate) weapon in the fight against
closed, repressive powers by way of hackers-led technology-based
interventions. The requirement to remain anonymous and the custom of
hiding behind a Guy Fawkes, the famous early 17th Century English
conspirer - made famous by the comic /V for Vendetta/, is another element
that illustrates the close analogy of methods between Anonymous and

(to be continued)
Next time: more on Co$, Anonymous, Wikileaks, Pirate Bay and other related
masked entities . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[65] The founder is the former spokesperson for Wikileaks, Daniel
Daniel Domscheit-Berg also tells in minute details the story of his
adventure with Wikileaks in his book "Inside Wikileaks, My Time with
Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website", Crown, New York,
[###] actually, Openleaks never really took of, and the link is now dead.
In its September 2012 issue, Wired Magazine published an excerpt of Andy
Greenberg's book 'This Machine Kills Secrets': /The WikiLeaks Spinoff That
More on Daniel Domscheit-Berg in note 60
[66] Check out the only comprehensive resources-bank on whistleblowing/
information leakages:
[67] Jaron Lanier, "The Hazards of nerd supremacy, /The Atlantic Monthly/,
December 2010:
The first analysis of the phenomenon can be credited to Patrice Riemens
(!!): 'Some thoughts on the idea of hacker culture':
Original article in French ('Quelques réflexions sur la "culture hacker"')
   in Multitudes 1 (2002) no 8, pp 181-7)
[68] 'Wikileaks and the Information Wars':
[70] The propagation of the LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) software,
originally a proprietary program to test servers' capacity, was key in the
ability to line up the computer network necessary to launch DDoS-type of
attacks, a voluntary botnet of sorts.

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
( - Dutch site)
( - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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