OMG what’s going on with Wikileaks? The site wikileaks.org has been offline for some time now, apparently because of funding issues. According to metaparadigma.de:
To underline the necessity of financial help, Wikileaks has gone offline until January, 11th. The website currently states:
To concentrate on raising the funds necessary to keep us alive into 2010, we have reluctantly suspended all other operations, until Jan 11.
Find more information on how you can (financially) support and contribute to Wikileaks here…
Well, it’s Feb 6 now – which comes after Jan 11… and Wikileaks is still offline. And there’s no explanation on the front page; there is no front page! All I get now is a blank screen. Which means there is no message explaining how we can donate money to them. WTF is going on?!! Don’t they want our money any more? Have they given up in the face of a hostile capitalism? Have the bad guys won?
If you use archive.org’s Wayback Machine to look at wikileak.org’s front page in the past, you’ll see an announcement that begins: “Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable system for untracable mass document leaking and public analysis.” But what’s happened here very clearly demonstrates that Wikileaks is vulnerable to censorship by money and the lack thereof. It looks like for the want of funds, Wikileaks has fallen. Will it get back up? I dunno… But it doesn’t look good. If we don’t know how and where to send donations, we can’t send the money Wikileaks needs so badly. If anyone reading this can tell us where to send donations, please do so either in the Comments for this post or via the contact form.
I hope we haven’t seen the last of Wikileaks. It did a lot to help the cause of free speech and made it pretty safe for whistleblowers to blow their whistles. So come on Wikileaks! I don’t want to tell you to rest in peace.
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Monday 25 January 2010
Okay, so maybe I was exaggerating when I said “countless” Americans are claiming political asylum in the UK. Actually, between 2004 and 2008, 45 US citizens claimed asylum in Britain, claiming they were being persecuted by their government.
The UK Home Office released this info after a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian newspaper. Between 2004 and 2008 there were 132,640 asylum claims made in the UK, according to government statistics. 45 were made by Americans, and 15 came from Canadian citizens. The Home Office refused to reveal the reasons for asylum requests, but a source within the US government suggested that the US requests were made by self-declared “political refugees” claiming persecution by the Bush administration. Applications from the US peaked in 2008, the final year of George Bush’s presidency, when 15 Americans submitted asylum claims. All 60 North American claims were refused – again, the Home Office refused to divulge why they were refused, claiming that a manual search of records to collect the information would take too long.
Maybe you think 45 claims over 4 years isn’t a huge number. But remember: these are just the claims for asylum made in the UK. How many other US citizens have sought refuge in other countries? It would be extremely difficult to collate world-wide information. But I think it’s reasonable to assume that if the UK, America’s biggest ally, received 45 claims for asylum from Americans, other countries probably received many more.
Liza Schuster, an asylum expert from the department of sociology at City University in London, quoted in the Guardian article, suggested another reason to believe these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. She said:
“I don’t know the details of those cases, but assume the US citizens are deserting before being sent to somewhere like Afghanistan. With the Canadians I’m really not sure. It is, as is clear from the numbers, pretty unusual – if only because it is relatively easy for those people to leave their countries and settle elsewhere. Why not just apply for a work visa and renew and then apply for leave to remain?
“As someone who would not find admission to European countries too difficult, it would only make sense to claim asylum if you feared extradition back to Canada or the US, or if there was some reason you might be refused entry. It is interesting – I’d be curious to know more – not least because in spite of what the law books say, granting asylum is a criticism of the originating state.”
On various online forums, people claiming to be American refugees have outlined their cases. One Texan hoping to be allowed sanctuary in Scotland claimed he had been “persecuted as a political dissident against US government war-mongering”.
This really does raise some important questions. For one, there’s the question of how many Americans in total have felt the need to seek political asylum abroad. And why have they sought asylum? Why are citizens of “the land of the free” running away from a country whose constitution allegedly grants them “undeniable rights”? Is American democracy actually no better than the brand of “democracy” on offer in Russia, China, Saudi Arabia?
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Have you seen this craziness? For those who’ve never heard of DigZine: it’s a “hacker” zine similar to Phrack. This is what puzzles me. Phrack.org hasn’t been closed down. So why DigZine?
This ought to be a freedom of speech/free press issue. 2600 Hacker Quarterly has survived as long as it has largely because it’s a printed magazine – the printed press is afforded protection by the Constitution. But the US authorities are comfortable about persecuting webzines. It’s clear to me that this is wrong. There’s no real difference between a regular, printed-on-paper magazine and a webzine. So they should both be protected from over-zealous cops. Unfortunately, that isn’t how the world works. And if a website is on servers located in the USA, that website has virtually no protection from the evil morons in power.
Incidentally, if you scroll down to the bottom of that web page, you’ll see your ip address and some rubbish about how the Dept Homeland Security will log your ip and investigate you. Then, at the end it says:
Be aware that disguising or concealing IP information shall be considered a criminal violation of section 814 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Should you suspect that your IP address and host have been improperly recorded, contact a DHS representative immediately.
This is a blatant violation of the right to privacy. Using an anonymous proxy or some other anonymiser to protect your privacy is illegal? The US government has got right into the role of Big Brother. You don’t need a tin foil hat to realiize this.
But what tips this over into absurdity is the fact that any idiot with a web browser can view Digizine.com and its archive of seditious literature. All you need to do is go to the Wayback Machine. This is an archive of the internet: snapshots of what the internet used to look like. You go to the Wayback page and type in the URL of the site you’re interested in – say, Digizine.com – then click the button marked “Take Me Back!” This brings you to a list of dates when snapshots of the site in question were taken. In the case of Digizine.com, you can see that snapshots were taken most recently in 2007. So, you choose a date from the list and click it. In this case 8 Jan 2007. And this takes you to an archived copy of the website on that date.
So, we can visit this evil site despite the DHS’s best efforts to censor it. We can view the archive of the DigiZine e-zine and read all that treacherous content that the US govt wants to protect us from! (There’s a link to the magazine archive here.)
But if you take the time to view the e-zine, you’re gonna wonder why in hell the DHS wants to block this site! The last issue was released in 2006. And the content is, on the whole, a lot tamer than what you can find elsewhere. This censorship makes no sense. Then again, when do any of the DHS’s actions make any sense?
Thing is, the content of Digizine.com is irrelevant. The point is, just about any website that the DHS want to “protect” us from can be accessed via the Wayback Machine. The US govt wants to keep us ignorant? No sweat, information always finds a way out of bondage. The internet is based on the idea that information wants to be free. And archive.org is a shining example of that freedom!