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Open Season for Leaks?
Do you really believe it?
Everybody's doing it. Al Jazeera did it and the New York Times are supposedly considering it. Opening their own 'secure' whistleblower channels. But how good is that going to be? Not much.
The world is still waiting for Danny Domscheit's OpenLeaks. He's probably too busy writing his memoirs. But nothing's yet been seen.
And what's the promise? Danny's site won't hold onto things, won't publish them, merely broker them onto mainstream media organisations.
What happens if no one's interested? What happens if the Alan Rusbridgers and Bill Kellers of journalism's Old Media don't want to publish or are too afraid to publish?
What happens with all the gag orders on British media today? What happens with a Bill Keller that rushes to Uncle Obama as soon as he gets a whiff of another leak?
And what's to stop them from doing the Adrian Lamo two-step?
The emergence of corporate 'for profit' whistleblower conduits can't bode for good. This might all be a matter of news organisations driven by greed to find a new way to compete. But no matter: the results will be the same.
WikiLeaks can succeed because the WikiLeaks website has the leaks. The current system forces the news organisations to 'play nice' and keeps them on their toes. They don't like that.
Alan Rusbridger used to be considered a champion of WikiLeaks. He tweeted about the great moments in journalism brought about by WikiLeaks. And he profited immensely by the collaboration with WikiLeaks. But he didn't miss a step when giving the opportunity to toss WikiLeaks under the bus.
Bill Keller was one of the primary 'rabble rousers' for the invasion of Iraq. History's already recorded what his 'journalists' did at the time and how he personally pressured the US government to be more hawkish.
Will either of these organisations - will any organisations for that matter - be any different if they can induce whistleblowers to trust them instead of WikiLeaks?
WikiLeaks has a proven track record. The Old Media are out and have betrayed the people for far too long to be taken seriously. The only chance they have is to offer money for leaks - in which case the identities of the whistleblowers become known and the idealism of the movement will be lost.
The tactic's well known: take something from the people they really need and give them a pale equivalent. Smooth things over. Get the powers that be back in the saddle again. Those powers seem rather powerless at the moment - almost as if that power shifted to the people themselves. Perish the thought. They don't like that.
The Alan Rusbridgers and the Bill Kellers and the Barack Obamas and the David Camerons don't like it. They've already ignored repeated pleas to look into war crimes - they only want to stop the 'drip drip drip'. They don't care about anything else.
Commercial leaks sites run by Old Media: people probably won't take them seriously. Their technologies are not proven, their track records are abysmal. And there are grassers everywhere.
But it pays to watch out. And to keep reminding people of the dangers.
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