Wikileaks tells Wikinews why they published Danish child porn censorship list

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wikileaks logo
Image: Wikileaks Media Kit.

Wikileaks has obtained and released a list of all 3,863 websites that are being censored by Danish Internet Service Providers as of February 2008. The system is used to filter out child pornography, although Wikileaks points out it "can be used to censor anything" and claims "most sites on the list are still censored (i.e must be on the current list), even though many have clearly changed owners or were possibly even wrongly placed on the list."

Wikinews was able to contact Wikileaks. We discussed the unusual leak with them, and the results are published here.

We asked if Wikileaks was worried about the criminal implications of linking to so much illegal content, but they were not. They said that it was "politically untenable" to prosecute them, pointing out that Wikileaks is hosted in many different countries across the globe.

We asked them if they were "concerned about the possibility of censorship in the UK, Denmark, Finland etc.?" "No," Wikileaks told us "We welcome it." Wikinews wondered if this was because of the Streisand effect, but Wikileaks said it was "because it will demonstrate how censorship systems are abused."

Wikinews asked Wikileaks why they didn't simply post a list of the sites which they felt were legal and add that all the others contained child porn, but Wikileaks felt "that would not be a fair representation of the material we obtained." After seeking clarification, Wikinews was told "the question is not what we need to be told. The question is what we need not to be told and who decides. Secret censorship systems are unaccountable and dangerous."

Wikinews then asked why they didn't leave the full list available, but mark which sites they felt should not be censored. "We have better things to do," was the response given. So how would Wikileaks suggest dealing with child porn?

"Block financial transactions after due process. It's easy to set up servers. It is not so easy to set up merchant accounts." And what would due process be? "Due process would involve sending a letter to the owner of the merchant account with the accusation and giving them a right to be heard and an appeal process. The banks are politically a lot more powerful than the internet industry so this hasn't happened."

And should funds in these accounts be seized straight away, or simply frozen until a judge or similar clears their release? "If the accounts are in-jurisdiction, they should be frozen and released or not at the end of the process. There are plenty of existing mechanisms to do this for drug trafficking, for example."

Wikileaks then added "As an analogy, one might argue that everyone should have a loaded gun in the house to protect themselves against home invasions. This seems perfectly reasonable; however experience has shown that once the gun is in the house, it will find other targets."


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.