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Britileaks.org
soon-to-launch organization dedicated to exposing corruption

 

Wikileaks has profoundly changed the world balance of power (especially between individuals vs. political or corporate organizations), by proving how mighty is information one single individual can hold and publish. As last week's interviewee Meltem Arikan said, "Wikileaks is a start, but it is not sufficient".

So this week's interview is with the people behind BritiLeaks, a whistleblowing and publishing organization dedicated to revealing UK-related information (in the interest of the people) that has been concealed.

While NATO and the Pentagon are threatening (even with traditional military means) the use of the Internet as a pro-democratic and anti-concentration-of-power channel, numerous, citizen-based initiatives like Wikileaks are the best tools can the people have to peacefully defend their basic rights and freedoms. – interview by Mehdi 14-07-2011

Tell us about your organization and its purpose.
The purpose of BritiLeaks.org is similar to other publishing organizations. We want, quite simply, to publish the truth, no matter how ugly. We aim to give the public information which has been concealed or suppressed. Information that shows corruption, illegality or deception.

What is (are) the event(s) that pushed you to set-up BritiLeaks?
WikiLeaks is currently under massive strain at the moment. BritiLeaks.org is very much inspired by WikiLeaks, in that it shares a similar ideology and goals. Where WikiLeaks is one organization dealing with leaks worldwide, we concentrate solely on British issues and those affecting the United Kingdom. We have been inspired to create Britileaks.org, because we know how it feels to be lied to, to be deceived by those you are supposed to trust.

Most people think the UK is a true democracy; do you agree with that? If not give us examples of recent democracy violations in the UK?
One astounding breach of democracy is the current drug enforcement law within the UK. Professor David Nutt was pressured to resign recently after high-profile politicians disagreed with his professional stance on drugs. This man worked for the advisory council on the misuse of drugs. He advised the government in a purely scientific manner and was pressured to leave after publicly claiming that drugs should be classified because of the danger they pose, something with which the government vehemently disagrees. The government required the mindless agreement of a complacent 'Yes-man' and instead they got David Nutt.

The public opinion in the UK is that relatively harmless drugs e.g. Cannabis should be legalized. Instead, we allow the sale of tobacco and alcohol (far more dangerous) and discriminate against cannabis senselessly.

How can more transparency lead to more democracy?
Quite simply, the more knowledge we have, the better we can make an informed and reasoned decision.

When it comes to contributing to BritiLeaks, are you all volunteers or are some of you actually employed?
As of yet, all those associated with BritiLeaks.org contribute on a voluntary basis only.

Are you looking for more volunteers, and if yes, with which skills if any?
Absolutely! We require volunteers from all walks of life, we need:

Technical volunteers to assist with the development of a secure submission system and to help with servers and all the nerdy stuff

Promotional volunteers to get the word out oabout BritiLeaks. The more publicity we receive, the more volunteers we get, the bigger and stronger we can grow.

Leak analysts to trawl through information looking for anything interesting and flagging it up pre-publication. Our analysts MUST reside in northwest England for security and operational reasons. In some instances, we may allow for analysts further afield.

Media partners We require media partners to assist in different publications, we need ballsy, confident outlets that are not afraid of power and authority.

Are you going to focus only on UK-related revelations?
Yes, although should something relevant to a different country surface, we will either publicize it or pass it to a sister organization.

Are you going to work/partner with other whistleblower organizations?
This is still under discussion. The more friends we have, the better. We would also encourage any organizations that take an interest in us to get in touch.

Why is it important for sources to be able to remain anonymous?
Sometimes sources do not want to be anonymous. Most of the time they do. Anonymity of sources is our No.1 priority. Because our sources deal with confidential, sensitive, classified and secret information, they must not be exposed, and we will do everything we can to ensure that. Whistleblowers are punished in the western world, fired from their jobs, discredited in the media, shunned by people who used to be their friends. Sources must remain anonymous so as to avoid repercussions or revenge from the system they expose.

Tell us about the anonymity issues of your submission system. Can you tell us what kind of encryption you use and what system allows the sources to hide their IPs? What guarantees do you provide your sources?
As of now BritiLeaks.org does not have a secure submission system. This is something we are working on as we speak. We will not solicit sources until such a system is in place and we are confident that we can protect the information sent by our sources. Our Twitter feed @BritiLeaks will announce up-coming changes related to the site and the secure submission system.

Do you provide an online assistance for sources not familiar with the submission process? Does it also provide anonymity?
We are working on creating a tutorial for would-be whistleblowers. Not everyone is a technical whiz, so we realize we must help those from a less technical background. We will have some volunteers whose job it is to talk to these people should they need assistance. The submission system will most likely rely on an anonymous "drop-box" for smaller files. We are working on a system for larger files. The system will provide absolute anonymity; any traces of a potential source will be scrubbed by our technical team.

Did you have issues with your web hosting service provider?
As of now, no. We will be testing mainstream providers to see at what point they "crack" under the pressure. We will eventually move to a "bulletproof" option, should the mainstream sites buckle.

DDoS attacks against a website is something common when it publishes documents embarrassing to governments and/or corporations. Have you started mirroring your website to avoid it to be down?
Unfortunately, we can’t comment on this. Please rest assured, continuity measures are in place and being developed. We can only give one clue: "You can't silence the world."

Once you get documents, how do you assess their authenticity?
Leak verification is an important operational procedure, and I regret to inform you that we cannot go into detail. We assess documents on a leak-by-leak basis, and verification methods for different leaks constantly vary.

Before publishing, do you intend to redact anything, and if yes what? What are the rules you will apply?
If a source has requested we redact material or delay publication to a certain date, we always keep our promise. The source is the most important thing to us, and we must do everything we can to assist them. Should we redact any material from a disclosure, we will make it clear why certain information has been redacted.

Are you going to work with the media/press? Under which conditions?
Absolutely! Under our conditions.

The News of the World scandal shows how much some mass media think of themselves as above the law and how far they got from what should have been their mission: holding power accountable. Do you think that with organizations like yours, it will be the citizens who will play this role?
Definitely, we couldn't agree more. It is the citizen who provides us with our disclosures. If people going to work realize they are in a corrupt/illegal environment – instead of being sheep – they can take a stand, something only the bravest of humanity can do.

You certainly know that setting up this kind of organization will certainly attract the attention – and maybe intimidation and repression – on the part of (at least) the British government?
Should BritiLeaks.org continue down the path of expansion, it is inevitable that my identity will become compromised, either intentionally or otherwise. I have already come to terms with that. One thing about humanity that upsets me greatly is the "group-conformity-effect." If all of humanity were to just stand back and allow others to commit crimes, we as a species would never progress. All it takes is one or more people to stand up and say "This is wrong," and others soon follow.

What would you like to say to potential sources still hesitating as to submitting information?
Do not release immediately. Learn the basics of cryptography first; know that information leaves a trail that most people don't realize. Do some research before putting information out there. We can’t stress this enough. Once you have an understanding of how these systems work, you can get better impact from information you possess and leak it in a manner least likely to be traced to you.

Leaking information can be by far one of the most stressful choices of your life. Don't do it because you want revenge, do it because it's the right thing to do.

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