Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09
Image by New Media Days via Flickr

I am in the process of downloading a file that contains all the unedited cables that Wikileaks has obtained.  You can do the same by downloading this link using a program like Vuze. This is a 1.4GB file so it may take a while.  As far as I know it is not illegal to download it as it is not copyright material.  In any case it is probably not illegal because you cannot read whatever it is that you are downloaded as it is encrypted.  What this file is is a Poison Pill.  Assange goes, this file is open for humanity to see.

I am downloading this file for two reasons.  One is because I believe that if it was so easy for Wikileaks to obtain this information whoever our enemies are probably have it as well.  Secondly because while I had mixed feelings on what Julian Assange was doing, I am so disgusted about how Western democracies are reacting towards a person who has not been formally accused of any crime that I think it’s time to stand by Wikileaks to defend freedom of the press.

Lately I have a strong feeling that the Chinese must be rejoicing at all the “retroactive law invention” that is going on in the West to put one man in jail.  Because if Assange had been a Chinese citizen promoting transparency in China we would be lining up to give him the Nobel Prize.  We can’t demand transparency from others and censorship for ourselves.

If the US government did not want its secrets known, all they had to do was to encrypt these secrets as Wikileak’s Assange is doing with this file. As CNN argues it comes with an encryption that not one of all the encryption crackers in the world can figure out.  Think about it, we will all have this file but we will not be able to read it.  Can’t the US government do the same if something is really a secret? How can real secrets be distributed among over a million of people with easy access to matters way beyond their jurisdiction and unencrypted?   From now on, if you want a secret, encrypt it, and make it a crime to break the encryption.

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poliuk on December 9, 2010  · 

¿Our enemies?

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Martin Varsavsky on December 9, 2010  · 

Yes, our enemies. The people who attacked us on 9 11 for example. I would call them our enemies. In any case I leave it open and say whoever our enemies are. If we had none I would see little reason for secrecy.

pepe on December 9, 2010  · 


Did you download those?


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Martin Varsavsky on December 9, 2010  · 


Roberto on December 9, 2010  · 

Well, the US tried for years to keep secure encryption methods private – anyone remembers early days of PGP? Now secure encryption is a commodity. Anyone should use it: Governments to keep secret data secret, companies to keep their production and trade secrets and every person to keep his private data private as well. I sometimes do not understand how unclear that is for so many people.

So the US administration and basically everyone should heavily invest into data security on the upfront. There are enough people and entities in the world spending time and effort to break security barriers to obtain information. And yes, I believe this will be quite a battlefield in the future – if it is not already..

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Martin Varsavsky on December 9, 2010  · 

Agreed, secure encryption is a commodity but USA distributes global unencrypted secrets to over a million people. These leaks were bound to happen. Wikileaks is the wake up call that the US government needed to realize that probably everyone but the general public had access to this information.

Federico el Sueco on December 9, 2010  · 

How can you pretend that: “a person (who) has not been formally accused of any crime “? I have never seen the Swedish legal system being accused of playing to political pressure, so how do you explain away the serious charges that are standing? The victims have no rights in your view? Well they do in Sweden.

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Jordi on December 9, 2010  · 

Great post Martin, long articles I’m reading about the matter say less that your short post. I tend to think that those docs and communications were originally encrypted, don’t you think there is also the issue of those with access who want this kind of information to get to the public using Wikileaks? With current security systems at gov and military institutions it seems quite shocking that information of this nature was leaked just because encryption/decryption mistakes.

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Roberto on December 9, 2010  · 

There was no encryption mistake. There was no encryption infrastructure at all within the walls! Probably out of costs and convenience reasons. Technically it should be no problem.

I guess the key problem is another: There are groups in administration (further up the food chain) that are keen on pooling and accessing all data. So yes, every security is vulnerable if you got a single point of failure. I guess it´s time for people to rethink their centralized archives. And if needed, then they should adopt multi-level security instead of mass data repositories. We are developing software with multi-level access restrictions on a cryptographic level ourselves and it is quite interesting to see how few companies do understand the need for this. Most encryption packages focus on convenience and centralization – because their clients ask them to do. They should focus on security and de-centralization!

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Andreu on December 9, 2010  · 

It is not about encription, but about transparency.

Martin, have you read Wired lately? They have an interesting (and brave) point of view.




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Sefo on December 9, 2010  · 

“Because if Assange had been a Chinese citizen promoting transparency in China we would be lining up to give him the Nobel Prize.”
Absolutely TRUE.

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Jens on December 9, 2010  · 

Wikileaks has to stay and Assange has to be treated fair and equal! I am pledging for nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize because Wikileaks tries to restore the balance of information. I am also disappointed by many Western governments’ reactions. Here in Germany we are discussing whether the government can spy on its citizens by default by using a trojan. Why is it bad then when Wikileaks hacks back? Politicians serve the public. Why not share their data with the public then? I agree that there is information that has to stay secret for a period of time, aka military strategies or negotiations. I call those ‘live information’. But that information is less sensitive after some time. So I see no problem when Wikileaks is publishing them. As Wired wirtes: “A government’s best and only defense against damaging spills is to act justly and fairly.”

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Dolores T. on December 13, 2010  · 

Hi Martin,
I’m an Argentinean-Australian who’d like to say hi from Katoomba, Blue Mountains, Sydney Area.
With or without encryption, Julian Assange has become our new Ned Kelly. I would like to share this link from the Sydney Morning Herald. I wouldn’t like Julian to end up like Ned, though.
Have a great day,

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