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WikiLeaks is a Wikipedia-style wiki for people to place leaked documents, untraceably. According to the FAQ, “It combines the protection and anonymity of cutting-edge cryptographic technologies with the transparency and simplicity of a wiki interface.” “Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide: the scrutiny of a worldwide community of informed wiki editors.”

It’s ambitious. The FAQ says:

Wikileaks may become the most powerful “intelligence agency” on earth — an intelligence agency of the people. It will be an open source, democratic intelligence agency. But it will be far more principled, and far less parochial than any governmental intelligence agency; consequently, it will be more accurate, and more relevant. It will have no commercial or national interests at heart; its only interests will be truth and freedom of information. Unlike the covert activities of state intelligence agencies, Wikileaks will rely upon the power of overt fact to inform citizens about the truths of their world.

It’s got a million leaked docs already and expects to surpass Wikipedia in number of entries. But it’s hard to see how it becomes anything like an intelligence agency if it only consists of leaks; if a citizen wants information about a topic, seeing only the leaked material is going to give quite a skewed and incomplete view. On the other hand, if you’re researching a topic, I can see the value of checking in with Wikileaks to see if there’s anything you’re not supposed to know about it.

Here’s another bit from the FAQ:

Couldn’t leaking involve invasions of privacy? Couldn’t mass leaking of documents be irresponsible? Aren’t some leaks deliberately false and misleading?

Providing a forum for freely posting information involves the potential for abuse, but measures can be taken to minimize any potential harm. The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinize and discuss leaked documents.

It’ll be fascinating to see how this works out in the edge cases. Does posting the names of covert agents count as a leak? [Tags: ]

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