Daily Archives: 07/06/2011

( The success of Wikileaks in obtaining and releasing information has inspired mainstream media outlets to develop proprietary copycat sites. Al-Jazeera got into the act first, launching the Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit (AJTU), an initiative meant to “allow Al-Jazeera’s supporters to shine light on notable and noteworthy government and corporate activities which might otherwise go unreported.” AJTU assures users that “files will be uploaded and stored on our secure servers” and that materials “are encrypted while they are transmitted to us, and they remain encrypted on our servers.”

On May 5, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., Inc., launched its own site, SafeHouse. That same day, the Atlantic published a story describing SafeHouse as a “secure uploading system” with “separate servers,” two layers of encryption, and a policy of discarding information about uploaders “as quickly as possible.” You can “keep yourself anonymous or confidential, as needed,” the SafeHouse site promises, as you “securely share documents with the Wall Street Journal.”

Immediately after its launch, however, online security experts ripped SafeHouse apart. TheAtlantic published its story online at noon on May 5 and by 5 p.m., the page was updated with a link directing readers to the Twitter feed of Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and Wikileaks volunteer, who had already exposed an embarrassing number of security problemswith SafeHouse.

EFF’s review of the legal side of these websites doesn’t fare any better. While some of the more egregious technical problems with SafeHouse have been fixed since its launch, its terms of use haven’t changed. We read through the Terms of Service for both SafeHouse and AJTU (pdf). Don’t fall for the false promises of anonymity offered by these sites. Here’s what you should know.

They Reserve the Right to Sell You Out

Despite promising anonymity, security and confidentiality, AJTU can “share personally identifiable information in response to a law enforcement agency’s request, or where we believe it is necessary.” SafeHouse’s terms of service reserve the right “to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities” without notice, then goes even further, reserving the right to disclose information to any “requesting third party,” not only to comply with the law but also to “protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies” or to “safeguard the interests of others.” As one commentator put it bluntly, this is “insanely broad.” Neither SafeHouse or AJTU bother telling users how they determine when they’ll disclose information, or who’s in charge of the decision.

Whistleblowing by definition threatens “the interests of others.” Every time someone uploads a scoop to SafeHouse, they jeopardize someone’s interest in order to inform the public of what’sactually going on. That’s the whole point. In the United States, submitting documents to journalists is protected speech under the First Amendment. But people in totalitarian countries cannot expose the secrets of their governments without breaking those governments’ laws. And neither news outlet acknowledges that governments might abuse their police power to find out who leaked damaging information — even here in the good old U.S. of A.

You Have to Make Promises No Whistleblower Can Keep

By uploading to SafeHouse, you represent that your actions “will not violate any law, or the rights of any person.” By uploading to AJTU, you represent that you “have the full legal right, power and authority” to give them ownership of the material, and that the material doesn’t “infringe upon or violate the right of privacy or right of publicity of, or constitute a libel or slander against, or violate any common law or any other right of, any person or entity.”

This isn’t a representation most whistleblowers can make honestly. The whole point of a leak is to expose internal information to the public. Even if your documents aren’t stolen, you might be violating someone’s rights.

SafeHouse further requires users to agree that WSJ can transfer the material to any country where Dow Jones does business. This means that the “law enforcement authorities” provision could even implicate laws of other countries with more intense internet monitoring, laws with which the whistleblower is unfamiliar. That makes it pretty hard to honestly claim that the content does not violate “any law.”

Communications are Neither Anonymous Nor Confidential

Despite their public claims to the contrary, both SafeHouse and AJTU disclaim all promises of confidentiality, anonymity, and security.

SafeHouse offers users three upload options: standard, anonymous, and confidential. The “standard” SafeHouse upload “makes no representations regarding confidentiality.” Neither does the “anonymous” upload which, as Appelbaum pointed out, couldn’t technically provide it anyway. For “confidential” submissions, a user must first send the WSJ a confidentiality request. The request itself, unsurprisingly, is neither confidential nor anonymous. And until the individual user works out a specific agreement with the paper, nothing is confidential.

Similarly, AJTU makes clear that “AJTU has no obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any information, in whatever form, contained in any submission.” Worse, AJTU’s website by defaultplants a trackable cookie on your web browser which allows them “to provide restricted information to third parties.” So much for anonymity!

These Sites Don’t Deliver What They Promise

It’s understandable that news organizations would want to have access to news scoops provided by whistleblowers. That sort of competition is great. But these websites are misleading and based on our review of the fine print, use of them by people who risk prosecution or retaliation for bringing sunshine to corruption, illegal behavior, or other topics worthy of whistleblowing, is risky at best and dangerous at worst.

Legal Analysis by Hanni Fakhoury
co-authored by Leafan Rosen, law student at Rutgers Camden School of Law.


( Aris Seirinidis is an anarchist who was arrested on the evening of May 3rd, 2010 in central Athens, at a police check-point set up for an irrelevant to him case. Initially he faced a misdemeanor charge but in the end the anti-terrorist unit pulled out a forgotten case related to the shooting of a police riot van in the area of Exarcheia in the summer of 2009, which became known by the media as “the case of the pistolero with the sombrero and flip flops” (due to the attire worn by the person that carried out the shooting). The main “evidence” against Aris was the matching of DNA taken from his wallet after his arrest with DNA found on one of the many surgical mask strewn around Exarcheia (due to a demo and rioting that had taken place in the summer of 2009, exactly the previous to the incident day) that was collected on the day of the shooting.

Aris’ trial will commence tomorrow, June 8th – and today has seen a series of actions across Greece in his support.

In Athens, the Council of State was blockaded by anarchists this morning. In Thessaloniki, a local radio station (fm100) was occupied and solidarity texts were read out on air. In Thessaloniki, Ioannina and Xanthi, anarchists will be setting up PA’s(mikrofoniki) and distributing texts in solidarity.

A motorcycle demonstration will commence from Athens’ Propylea today at 17.30 and a solidarity gathering will take place at the courthouse tomorrow at 9 am, at the first-degree courthouse (protodikeio) of Athens at 4, Degleri str.

See also: “about the case of Aris Seirinidis” (solidarity fund for prisoners in struggle) | Letter from the anarchist comrade Aris Seirinidis (act for freedom now)


(wlcentral.orgDespite the obfuscation of information by major outlets in traditional media and Internet, the movement born in Europe on the past 15th of May is spreading all across the continent, each day with more intensity and popular support. The repercussions, both in economic and political scenario are still unknown, in the same way the effects of the Cablegate episode of November 2010 were difficult to apprehend in that date but step by step shows its importance to contemporary society. The revolution lead by the European youth holds all Western economical and political structures as its enemy and is the type of social movement that does not have its shelter- an essential characteristic of a revolution. Relevant information of the gatherings, protests and projects are provided uniquely by independent media, and in some occasions these are being boycotted. The website for the Real Democracy Now platform in Berlin claimed that they were attacked, and the independent media site, was finally put offline illegally, after having been blocked via DNS in, at least, France and Belgium. Below is a recollection of information from past events in different countries.

The movement has grown the most in Greece, where people have held protests in front of the Parliament building, located in central Syntagma Square, for fourteen days. A camp has also been set up and hundreds of people are sleeping there. Patra, Thesaloniki and all other major cities also hold popular assemblies and protests in their main squares. Protests, that have been going on sporadically for about a year, increased after the announcement of harsh austerity measures added on to the second bailout conditions being debated by the UE and the IMF, along with the Greek Government. These include a law which will reduce the salary of people younger than 26 in 20%, allowing employers to pay less than 600 euros a month. At the same time however, the Greek government has continued to spend millions of euros on weapons. This has sparked a strong movement of outraged citizens, to the point where last Sunday, around 500-800 thousand people took the streets of Athens to demonstrate their dissatisfaction. According to, the movement was “the largest witnessed in decades, adding pressure to the prime minister to reject latest austerity package”. The All Workers Militant Front (PAME) occupied. the ministry of finance on Friday, making it impossible for people to access the building where the bailout negotiations are taking place. They also displayed a huge banner from the building calling for a general strike. “We have a sacred duty to our children and ourselves to cancel plans to turn workers into modern slaves,” PAME said in a statement, they also assured that “we must not allow our children to work for hunger wages. If we do not fight to overthrow these policies their working future will be hell.” Interesting photos of recent events in Greece can be found here and a video of the Syntagma Square demonstration on the 5th of June here . A good article on the complex greek crisis can be found here.

In Spain, the group of activists working under the name Democracia Real Ya, which started the movement of the 15th of May, is calling for a massive demonstration all across the country, in streets and squares, on the 19th of June. This protest will be coordinated with all the camps, most notably Barcelona and Madrid, and assemblies are deciding if they should all lift the camps at the same time, to coincide with the march. The way in which it will be carried out is also being debated. Another protest is planned for the 15th of October, and organizers are hoping to make it happen in all of Europe or worldwide. The movement is Spain is more mature and robust, always organized horizontally and increasingly decentralized and organized. The official media channel for the camp in Puerta del Sol claimed that around 28 thousand people participated in the smaller assemblies held in each neighborhood of the city. Facebook pages representing each group are posting information on decisions, committees and weekly meetings. In general, the repercussion of the police crackdown in Barcelona on the 22nd of May engaged more citizens to take action in the camp of Catalunya square. This also gave the camp exposure in the media around Europe. Campings are present in at least 30 cities in Spain, such as Valencia, Bilbao, Sevilla and Vigo.The. Tomalaplaza channel has updated and illustrative videos regarding the matter. The web 15MayRevolution.comprovides information in English about the movement in Spain.

Read more:

( In case you haven’t heard (due, probably to the interesting media blackout we are suffering), here in Spain thousands of people are protesting against our worthless politicians and their connivance with the corrupt financial establishment. We’ve occupied the central squares of our cities and are having a real, joyful, extremely interesting political debate. Don’t miss it. Here’s a text on it from an anonymous Spanish citizen.

A really joyful thing I wish I’ll do again forever
How can we explain this to the same press and media who are now speaking from a distance, often disdainfully, about “these youngsters” (these youngsters who are so far away from us, so alien, so difficult to understand, so ignorant; these youngsters who have nothing to do with our daily routines, our boredom, our unrest, our petty -miserable- concerns); how can one explain to them that we are not just “the other”. How can we tell them that many of us -most of us- aren’t even young anymore. That some of us actually do have jobs and permanent contracts and even make ends meet; many of us aren’t even suffocated by mortgage payments and, still, we are camping in our city squares. We, too, are fed up. How can we explain to them that we are all in this together: the unemployed, the precarious workers, the mortgage payers, the ones who have recently been fired and those of us who are none of the above. How can we explain -to the media and politicians, to radio and TV commentators; to all those who speak, recite or burst into soliloquies without even stopping to listen- that we are also coming to our public city squares for reasons unrelated to strictly economic or material issues. How can we explain to them that some of us are here because we know that living a precarious life does not only mean being jobless, but also being daily enslaved by our jobs, cheated by the market’s alienating and indoctrinating dynamics, stripped down of what makes us human and rendered just feeble merchandise, consumers and objects of consumption. Stripped down of what connects us to other human beings -our common joy, our empathy, our capacity to listen, to communicate, to stimulate and love each other- and left to stack for life, hermetically sealed in individual packets. Isolated.

How can we explain that we have come to fight these alienating patterns bringing out the best in ourselves. That we know that those who are responsible of creating these patterns have faces, eyes and names. But that we also know we are the ones perpetuating and nurturing these patterns and we have come to put an end to them. We have come to short-circuit this system which we have actually been making stronger, and which is eating up our lives. How can we explain this to people who do not think this is possible.

How can we explain that we have also come to the squares to find each other. Tired of being locked up at home, vacuum-sealed in front of our TVs, tired of barely touching one another in pubs, at soccer games, tired of never really getting to know each other. We have also come out to inhabit a common space. To create, by means of our own presence, a new space in which to talk, to tell each other who we are, what we need, what we have learned so far.

So what are these youngsters proposing? This is what’s being exclaimed behind every politically orthodox rostrum, with a combination of astonishment, disdain and a bad conscience. We, the youngsters, those 17, 25, 36, 43 and 60 year-old youngsters, have come together precisely to decide what it is we want, so no one can ever again choose for us the things we do not want. We have come out to share the tools that have worked for us so far, to share the things we know, by virtue of which actions we have come to alter what is private and what is public. We have come to change everything that’s grey-colored in our lives of work, pubs and soccer. And so we are here to change the world, because the personal is still always political and anything political starts in the personal.

We have come out to find out who we are living with and we have realized that what they told us was not true. We are not different, we are not far away from each other, we are not enemies, we do not wish to steal from each other what little we have. We have found out that we are one, even if we do not share the same language or support the same soccer team. We have found out we are more generous than we thought we were. We are interested in what we are telling each other and we want to keep on talking. We do not wish to go back to our homes, our TVs, our vacuum-sealed packets. We do not wish to go back to being regulated, to being forbidden to seat at public squares and to be locked up in cities and continents. We now want to know what is being told in public squares in other countries, even outside the Schengen walls.
We have discovered that coming to these squares is bringing life to them and that bringing life to our cities, collectively, is bringing life to our own selves. We have discovered we can do it a lot better than them when we are together. And that we feel better together than alone. And so we are exultant.

How can we explain this to them, who do not feel this joy.
May 18, 2011