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IT 103 – 12
Oct 4th, 2013
GMU Honor Code
"By placing this statement on my webpage, I certify that I have read and understand
the GMU Honor Code on http://oai.gmu.edu/honor-code/ . I am fully aware of the
following sections of the Honor Code: Extent of the Honor Code, Responsibility of
the Student and Penalty. In addition, I have received permission from the copyright
holder for any copyrighted material that is displayed on my site. This includes quoting
extensive amounts of text, any material copied directly from a web page and
graphics/pictures that are copyrighted. This project or subject material has not been
used in another class by me or any other student. Finally, I certify that this site is not
for commercial purposes, which is a violation of the George Mason Responsible Use
of Computing (RUC) Policy posted on http://universitypolicy.gmu.edu/1301gen.html
During the past few years, a website became very popular among the media.
This website was leaking very confidential, supposedly secret information that when
leaked, could be a threat to the security of nations. Secrets of rulers and governments
were exposed through this website. Thus, a controversy was created on whether this
website is useful, as it exposes the truth, or on whether it’s a threat that should be
Wikileaks is a non-profit, online media organization founded by the Australian
hacker, Julian Assange. It officially started in December 2006. It’s an organization
whose basic principle is to fight for freedom of speech and expose the truth. The only
purpose of the organization is to reduce misconduct and corruption by revealing
violations, no matter what the status of the person who did them was. By doing this,
the wrong that people regularly commit will decrease, which will create a more just
society. However, there has always been a question mark on this website, and it has
been fought by multiple sides since its start.
Even though there have been so many rumors that Wikileaks is an intelligence
agency or that might be loyal to a certain government, there has been no proof that
this is true. Until now, the website has been known that it’s by an organization called
Sunshine Press, which is funded by people who support the ethics of Wikileaks, such
as journalists, human rights activists, technologists, or people who are just devotees to
Wikileaks is responsible for leaking very critical information. One of the most
important leaks was in 2010, when it leaked 400,000 articles related to the war in
Iraq. This leak has been named as “the largest leak of classified documents in
history.” Furthermore, another notable revelation was when it released 779 documents
from Guantanamo Bay in April 25th, 2011. Those documents stated that over 150
people were held at the prison with nothing against them.
The only known people behind the website are Julian Assange, who is the
director, editor in chief, and of course the founder of Wikileaks, and Kristinn
Hrafnsson, who is the spokesman of Wikileaks. Other than these two people, no one
specifically is known. It is only known that the website is operated through a large
team of software programmers, accredited journalists, mathematicians, network
engineers, and people of other professions.
Wikileaks takes a number of precautions for the safety of the people who
submit in the information for publication. First, it has an electronic drop box through
which anyone can submit his or her information anonymously, which is the most
popular way for submission on Wikileaks. It works with a technology called
cryptographic information technologies. The website encourages that this way of
submission shall be done through net cafes or wireless hot spots to ensure total
anonymity and security. Sources can submit their news personally or via mail if they
desire to; however, the drop box is the most secure way for submission because it
ensures anonymity. Second, they do have a number of lawyers from all around the
world who volunteer to defend in Wikileaks’ cases. Third, Wikileaks may, when
necessary, delay the release of an article or remove some details in order not to
endanger the life of the source. The organization does not usually censor any news,
but specific details may be removed to protect people’s lives. Until now, Wikileaks
has never revealed a source.
Ethics and Accuracy:
Wikileaks is known to be an accurate source for journalists to use because it’s
known to make many efforts to make sure that the information it publishes is correct.
According to the Wikileaks website, in order to determine the accuracy of a
document, they “do a forensic analysis of the document, determine the cost of
forgery, means, motive, opportunity, the claims of the apparent authoring
organization, and answer a set of other detailed questions about the document.” Also,
they may go to the place or country where the news is about in order to prove that the
information is correct. The organization may send a team to conduct a research in
order to make sure that everything is true.
Even though the website uses the same publishing form of Wikipedia, the
articles of Wikileaks cannot be edited by random readers like Wikipedia’s articles.
The form used by both websites is the only similarity between them. Other than that,
the two websites have nothing to do with each other.
In addition, one of the Wikileaks’ most important principles is to only publish
facts. It does not publish any form of first hand reporting, such as opinions or rumors.
It only takes “classified, censored or otherwise restricted material of political,
diplomatic or ethical significance.” Another important principle is that the website
doesn’t publish information that is already available through the media. It’s always
the first to publish its news. Furthermore, the organization claims that it doesn’t
censor any documents received. The only censoring that may occur is when some
information is hidden to protect the source, as previously mentioned.
Moreover, the website claims that it’s very important to them that they don’t
influence the readers with their opinions. This is why it publishes the original news
document of the source along with a Wikileaks press published article about the
document. This is to enable the readers to see two ways of stating the truth so that
they can form more accurate opinion.
Many governments have stood against Wikileaks and tried to ban it from their
nation. For example, Australia blacklisted and censored it from March 2009 until
November 2011. Also, the US government at a point of time had completely
prohibited federal government employees from accessing Wikileaks, unless granted
permission. Therefore, because it had been banned and is still banned in some
countries, Wikileaks has many websites that offer the information that it has, but
under a different address name. An example of a website like that would be
In addition to being banned in nations, Wikileaks has been fought through
targeting Julian Assange himself. He had been accused of sexual misconduct by
Swedish women before, but the cases were dropped later.
The media organization has been awarded with the 2008 Economist Index on
Censorship Freedom of Expression award and the 2009 Amnesty International human
rights reporting award. Additionally, Assange has won several journalistic and civil
libertarian prizes. He has also been a nominee of Time Magazine’s person of the year
the Nobel Peace Prize.
Wikileaks has been a very helpful source of truth in different issues. The
reason to why it wasn’t able to have anything legal against it, even though it was
exposing “threatening secrets”, was because of the fact that it was only exposing the
truth. This was also why it gained attention, success, and even donors to fund it.
Therefore, as long as it will keep exposing these secrets, it will continue growing and
it will gain more supporters.
1- Calabresi, Massimo (2010, Dec 2). Wikileaks' War on Secrecy: Truth's
Consequences. Retrieved from:
2- The “about” section in Wikileaks’ website: http://wikileaks.org/About.html
3- Fildes, J. (2010). What is Wikileaks?. BBC. December, 7.
4- Taylor, B., & David, F. 6. COLLABORATION: WIKIS, WIKIPEDIA,
MASHUPS. Participation Literacy Spring 2012, 11, 44. Retrieved from:
5- Irien (2013, June 25). Kristinn Hrafnsson: Several interviews given about the
Snowden’s disclosure (links). Retrieved from:
6- Adams, J. The New Fourth Estate: Anonymous, Wikileaks, and–archy. Retrieved
7- Dillon Scott, P. (2010). Zukerberg, Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’–
Wikileaks founder, Assange, runner up. Retrieved from:
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