Friday, December 17, 2010

The WikiLeaks Furor

There has been an uproar about WikiLeaks in the press lately, and until recently I've felt that Wikileaks has done more good than bad, pointing out cases where the US (and other) governments have lied to their populaces, condoned torture, etc. I won't go into the ethics of the current batch of releases because there is simply too much to review, but I would like to make a few comments.

1) has been doing a great job of covering the back-and-forth of WikiLeaks availability, changes in their hosting and DNS services, etc.

2) Tonight I decided to spend a few minutes looking at the site. Among other things, I was interested in whether it would be difficult to get to. Two things worked right away. (a) Googling WikiLeaks led directly to (registered to in a block owned by OVH ISP in Paris), so the DNS is not necessarily needed. (b) Verizon's DNS service redirected me to, but some of the links at that site, e.g., the one to obtain a secure connection, did not work.

3) Some of the calls for the US government to launch web attacks against WikiLeaks are largely over the top and naively stupid. I wouldn't be surprised to discover attempts to hack into their database or their servers, but the idea of launching DDoS attacks against ISPs and hosting services in the US, Europe, and elsewhere is just silly. The US launching cyber attacks against France and Russia? Not a good idea.

4) I read one leaked dispatch, This is tagged "UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." One phrase I really like is advice to the USG (US Government, I suspect), "speak softly and carry no stick." The article talks about attempts to keep the Brazilian government from authorizing pharmaceuticals in Brazil to produce generic versions of AIDS drugs, in other words the bureaucratese seems to suggest that the US government is more interested in corporate profits than in dying Brazilians. Not a big surprise.

This is exactly the sort of thing US (and Brazilian) voters should be aware of, and also not the type of leak causing much of the uproar.

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