14:50 15 December 2010
WikiLeaks has been all over the news of late, due to the site's founder, Julian Assange.
Assange has been in trouble with the law not only for releasing sensitive information and diplomatic cables, but he's now also facing extradition to Sweden. He was arrested for alleged sexual crimes committed in the country in summer of 2010 and he is now out on bail, but how much do we really know about WikiLeaks?
We'll tell you all you need to know about the site and why it really is a force to be reckoned with.
WikiLeaks was launched at the end of 2006 and is a website devoted to exposing and blowing the whistle on dubious behaviour, by publishing leaked documents.
The site's most scandalous leaks include
The site is not actually a Wiki, as its name suggests. A Wiki in its true form should be open to anyone interested in editing its content.
None of the principles that define a Wiki actually apply to WikiLeaks itself, so why is it called WikiLeaks? During the sites early stages, apparently, developers thought about it being a Wiki but changed their mind. Pretty straight forward really.
Julian Assange himself is somewhat of a mystery. He is said to be a former hacker with a criminal record in Australia for actually hacking into government computers.
He also claims to have survived several assassination attempts, evading commando units intent on ending his life because of the public embarrassment his website has caused.
So how is the WikiLeaks site still operating? Well, it's down to a few factors. It uses mirror sites across the world but the main server is located in Sweden. This server also hosts another controversial site, infamous file-sharing site, Pirate Bay.
This is all no coincidence. Swedish law criminalises the disclosure of anonymous sources, giving the sites sources complete protection. WikiLeaks also boasts a perfect record when it comes to protecting its sources.
Too much information?
Assange told David Jushner of Mother Jones magazine that he receives, on average, 10,000 pages of leaks per day. Although they all must go through a certain degree of editorial scrutiny, nearly all leaks go live on the site - even those which are dubious in content.
WikiLeaks is not alone
A predecessor to the WikiLeaks site is US-based site, Cryptome.com. This site is ten years older than WikiLeaks and is a lot more credible.
Its founders, John Young and Deborah Natsios, aren't afraid to criticise their younger competitors, with Young even accusing the site of collaborating with the C.I.A.
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