The irony of WikiLeaks’ anti-leak agreement

Those looking up “irony” in the dictionary may find a picture of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange, who as a computer hacker went by the name Mendax, which means "nobly untruthful", is asking WikiLeaks staff to trust him.

Julian Assange, who as a computer hacker went by the name Mendax, which means "nobly untruthful", is asking WikiLeaks staff to trust him.

According to someone who worked at the publisher of “classified” material, Assange has forced employees to sign a “Confidentiality Agreement” that prevents them from ever leaking any information about how the non-profit works.

Those who spill the beans about the organization’s inner workings face a hefty fine of about $19.5 million.

Such a fine is unenforceable, according to legal writer David Allen Green.

One worker, Guardian reporter James Ball, refused to sign the agreement, and shared his unsigned copy with someone publicly via Twitter. Ball says showing the document to the world was “inadvertent” but I find that hard to swallow. Someone that works with WikiLeaks and writes for a major newspaper has to know how Twitter works.

Ball refused to sign the backdated document for several reason, chief among them being that he had already given interviews about WikiLeaks.

Assange allegedly spent “two hours – shouting – explaining why [Ball] must sign the document, or else risk the lives and wellbeing of everyone in the room, and never be trusted again.”

Assange is accused of getting other WikiLeakers to “apply psychological pressure” to get Ball to sign.

He never did.

As Ball writes, it’s curious behavior for a man asking others to believe whistleblowers help hold organizations accountable.

12 comments Add your comment

R

May 14th, 2011
10:38 am

He looks like an old lady.

MrLiberty

May 14th, 2011
10:51 am

Information about a private company is one thing. What Wikileaks exposes is the violation of laws and the inherent corruption and criminal behavior of governments. I certainly can’t blame Assange for wanting some code of behavior from his employees. What is disgusting is the behavior of people in our government. Assange is the greatest hero of the modern information age for making this information available to those of us who pay the bills and actually expect our elected officials and other government employees to obey the law. This is the transparancy that Obama only gives lip service to.

WmG

May 14th, 2011
10:57 am

It is, of course, idiotic to believe that governments should have no secrets. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t require explanation but – as the most obvious example – intelligence gathering would be of no use unless it was kept secret. The notion that a crackpot such as Assange is any kind of a hero is borderline insane. Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes reading about his life and his history ought to be able to see that he is anything but a hero.

Camel's Hump

May 14th, 2011
12:13 pm

I sure am glad he didn’t ever get access to the Bin Laden operation details. I think that the operation’s success highlights why Wikileaks cannot be allowed to continue.

There are lots of government actions that need to be exposed, but there are also lots that need to remain confidential. Assange has no filter and wants only to serve as an anarchist.

dabo

May 14th, 2011
1:53 pm

I do like Assange’s work and agree that the problem isn’t Assange but those with security clearance that leak. Blaming Assange or wanting to censor Assange is great if you don’t believe in the First Amendment. If docs get leaked to the press, do you really want the NY Times and Washington Posts of the world to decide what gets published and what doesn’t? No, their obligation is to print it if they get it and let the chips fall where they may.
However, when the hell is Wikileaks going to expose corruption in China, India, or Russia. He’s a little too selective with his targets.

Ron Paul for President !

Allan Jacobs

May 14th, 2011
3:29 pm

Actually, the premise of this article is wrong and foolish.

First, note that the author of the original article, David Allen Green has actually written up a proposal for a non-disclosure agreement that would be enforceable under English Law (see his blog post here: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2011/05/wikileaks-12m-legal-gag-legal-analysis.html).

Let’s put things into context – as an organization that advocates for whistleblowers, which relies on volunteer help, there is a very real risk that volunteers/press who get access to leaks may try to sell them to companies or governments before the release dates.

Also, it’s by now well known that WikiLeaks made the ‘mistake’ of giving the full databases for the Iraq/Afghanistan war logs and the state department cables to The Guardian, who then went ahead and started passing the material to other groups, sometimes insecurely.

WikiLeaks needs to make sure that volunteers/others don’t exploit the material, this is quite natural. There is nothing ironic about having non-disclosure agreements, the problem comes from the fact that the NDA was poorly written. That’s a very stupid claim. If WikiLeaks’ first duty is to protecting whistleblowers and to making sure that the material they leak is properly processed and introduced into the public historic record, then it’s absolutely essential to guarantee that the material is not abused before it is published. It’s not about leaking for leaking’s sake, it’s about keeping a promise to whistleblowers. I thought this point had been made clear a year ago but apparently some are still have trouble with the concept…

Another Anthony

May 14th, 2011
8:12 pm

The most important thing is the work that a person does and not the person. With the media the information is more important that the organizations.

There is a difference between the work Wikileak does, and it motto. It is incorrect to claim that Wikileaks “exposes is the violation of laws and the inherent corruption and criminal behavior of governments.” Wikileaks actually searches through the documents and media content received for things it believes serves the public interest. Only a few may need further investigation if there is any actual “corruption and criminal behavior.”

Wikileaks’ non disclosure agreement is about the protecting of its financial interests. To suggest anything else is just misinformation. If the document’s purpose was about protecting the identity of people who provide information to them, or other individuals, then it would explicitly written in the document. The non-disclosure document is mostly about the lost of value to sell the information that Wikileaks receives.

Wikileaks seems to act as though they own the leaked documents. They don’t. There are specific services that Wikileaks is suppose to be providing. They are suppose to provide a safe place for people to provide information for wrong doing in government and other organizations. They are suppose to protect the identity of individuals in the information that they receive. Finally, there are suppose to release that information to the public in a timely manner.

The information leaked is that for the public sphere, as that was the intention of the people leaking the information. This is a concept that Wikileaks’ staunch supports don’t understand.

testesr

May 14th, 2011
9:34 pm

Anthony,Anthony,Anthony..

Just Another Anthony

Whistleblower

May 15th, 2011
8:03 am

Why don’t we just assume the size of the “penalty” was just mean’t to be a disincentive to leak.

Let’s face it. The US government applies the disincentive of death or prolonged incarceration for leaking.

Only Governments can threaten you with death and get away with it.

Try making a threat against the US President and see how long it takes for the men in suits to knock your door down. Try even threatening your ex and her new partner with physical violence and see how long you can avoid fifteen years in proison.

Why? Because the authorities’ motto is “Don’t do as we do – do as we say”.

anne humphrey

May 15th, 2011
5:05 pm

THis blog sounds like a ‘put up job’ to me – similar to “U.S. official: Porn found in bin Laden compound” Oh, do come on! Not all of us are stupid and so gullible!

mendax4real

May 15th, 2011
7:32 pm

These boards are filled with the same group that trolls the net for stories about Wikileaks and Assange and write up glorious reviews of their Leader. Much like Scientology and others with such egotistical leaders at the helm.

Did Julian sign a contract not to prosper by selling any materials? So he CAN.
This is his insurance the he alone will have the authority to sell the content and pocket the money.

Does Wikileaks have a board of directors? Who does Julian answer to?
The IRS of the USA does not have any non profit named WikiLeaks or Sunshine press……. they do not have tax exempt status in the USA…..though Assange keeps saying he is a Non profit. This conttract is Julians way of owning the material himself.

Do not trust Wikileaks with your material. Julian is not to be trusted. I hope those ladies in Sweden see some justice. There is a history with Julian. If you follow his pattern you will see he is playing a game with one winner………and it is not you.

Sammy

May 27th, 2011
3:09 am

People of Japan…… I feel so sorry for the disaster happened to you. But someone should speak the truth “who is behind this???”. Do not even think or believe that, “it is a natural disaster”. Near Haiti US Marin had run the same test with powerful nuclear weapon which caused massive destructive Earthquake in that country. Immediately President of Haiti accused American Vulture Navy for this crime. People of Japan, please have a look at the source of the earthquake, isn’t it near your power house? Obviously if some one wants to destroy your country should hit the power plant first. This is a pre-planned strategic destruction US has planned against Japan, being jealous of your prosperity they used their mass destructive weapon in the ocean bed. They planted this weapon in the ocean bed using the submarine of US Marines (as they had been successful with the test on Haiti). Now who is there to put this conspiracy on International court against US? Also International court is controlled by them. US is now losing in their economy. So they are trying to destroy other rich countries Economy like Japan’s. Japan and other prosperous countries like China should be careful of US conspiracy and strengthen their Defense system. Otherwise US will be playing with their fate as they are playing with Arab countries. Also pay attention at this specific type of stealth weapon they are using. Some high-tech defense system has to be invented to stop this type of MASS DESTRUCTION.