Wikileaks is a name that often evokes controversy and strong opinions. But what is Wikileaks, and, more importantly, why should you care as a darknet user? Wikileaks has been shrouded in mystery since its inception in 2006, but with the rise of the dark web, understanding this organization and its implications is essential.
From exposing government secrets to increasing transparency within the digital world, Wikileaks’s impact on our online lives should not be underestimated. In this article, we learn more about Wikileaks, its methodology, and the impact its actions have had.
What is Wikileaks?
WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization that has been stirring controversy since its launch in 2006. It is an intermediary for anonymous sources to leak sensitive and confidential information. The website has become a symbol of transparency and freedom of information, providing whistleblowers with the platform to share their stories without fear of repercussions.
Wikileaks was founded by Julian Assange, who remains its Editor-in-Chief today. He was a notorious computer hacker and had a history of cybercrime. In 1991, he pleaded guilty to a host of charges related to his illicit activities. Despite the severity of these crimes, Assange was still young and received minimal punishment for his transgressions.
When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, he was exposing a long-held government secret and planting a seed that would later grow into one of the most influential organizations of our time. Ellsberg’s actions inspired Julian Assange to create WikiLeaks.
What Assange found particularly inspiring about the Pentagon Papers incident was the two-year gap between Ellsberg obtaining the documents and their publication in The New York Times.
He believed that such a lengthy process put whistleblowers in harm’s way and made it easier for governments to suppress them. This motivated Assange to develop a more streamlined whistleblowing procedure where information could be published quickly and safely by anyone worldwide.
The site’s most famous document release happened in 2010 when it published over 91,000 classified military reports from the U.S. government relating to the war in Afghanistan.
The site is shrouded in mystery; its content comes from unknown sources, with no known absolute proof of its authenticity or accuracy. It also operates beyond any jurisdiction; it’s registered in Sweden but operates off servers around the globe.
Despite this apparent air of secrecy, Wikileaks has become an incredibly influential source of information for news organizations worldwide.
What’s the Relationship Between Darknet and Wikileaks?
The Darknet is commonly associated with criminal activities, such as illegal drug trading and money laundering. Fewer people realize that this mysterious network also has a more noble side to it – one which stands for freedom of expression and whistleblowing. WikiLeaks wouldn’t exist without the Darknet; in fact, the whistleblowing platform would struggle to survive outside of it.
The anonymity offered by the Darknet’s layers of encryption and decentralized nature provides WikiLeaks with an invaluable asset, a haven for whistleblowers who wish to expose fraud or corruption without fear of repercussions. It allows individuals who want to leak sensitive information securely without their identity ever being revealed.
The Darknet enables WikiLeaks and similar platforms to remain independent from censorship or persecution, giving them the power to spread vital information worldwide without risk of exposure.
Through the Darknet, WikiLeaks has been able to release many confidential documents relating to the U.S. government since its inception in 2006.
The Darknet provides an anonymizing layer that protects users’ identities when they access or upload content using software such as the Tor browser.
Some Famous WikiLeaks Leaked Information
The First Scoop
WikiLeaks’ first big scoop wasn’t the result of a daring whistleblower or a sophisticated hack: it started with an onion router (Tor) designed to allow users to transmit data anonymously.
WikiLeaks volunteers set out on an ambitious project. Eventually, they brought in more than one million documents—including what would become their very first lead: a message from a leader of a Somali rebel group advocating for the hiring of shooters to assassinate government officials.
The document was published on the site in December 2006. Its authenticity was never confirmed, but the controversy surrounding WikiLeaks and debates about the morality of its tactics soon overshadowed the document itself.
Classified U.S. Military Information
In November 2007, Wikileaks posted the standard operating procedures for the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It exposed key information that had not been made available to the public before then.
The move created waves in both political and media circles, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Wikileaks truly made headlines. The website was briefly shut down after legal action in the United States forced them to remove some documents from their servers.
However, those documents were replaced by mirrors registered outside of U.S. jurisdiction in Belgium (WikiLeaks.be), Germany (wikileaks.de), and even on Christmas Island (WikiLeaks.cx).
When news broke in 2009 that the platform had released a cache of internal e-mails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, it quickly became the talk of the town. Dubbed ‘Climategate’ by some, the site made headlines as global warming skeptics seized on the e-mails as evidence of a conspiracy to silence debate and conceal data. It seemed like one giant smoking gun – but was there really foul play at work?
The accusation sparked a series of investigations, but all ultimately cleared the scientists of intentional wrongdoing. While they found some shortcomings in the peer review process, they concluded that errors were innocent mistakes rather than malicious intent.
In 2010, WikiLeaks sparked a controversy when it posted over half a million documents related to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though much of the content had already been available to the public, President Barack Obama’s administration criticized the leak harshly, claiming it posed a threat to national security.
The site also released an edited video, recorded in 2007 from the perspective of a U.S. attack helicopter’s gun camera, showing the killing of a dozen individuals, including two Reuters employees.
WikiLeaks released selections from a secret trove of 250,000 diplomatic cables between the U.S. State Department and its embassies worldwide. It revealed confidential communications sent over an extended period.
Most of these documents were dated from 2007 to 2010, with some dating as far back as 1966. The documents revealed behind-the-scenes U.S. efforts to politically and economically isolate Iran, presumably due to fears of their nuclear weapons program.
These leaked secrets clearly depicted how the United States responded to the tense political climate between it and Iran during that period.