Explainer: What is wikileaks and how it works?

WikiLeaks is a multi-national media organization and associated library.  publishes classified media and secret information without disclosing their sources. It was founded in 2006 by an Australian internet activist, Julian Assange. Despite the fact that it uses the name Wikileaks, it does not follow the “wiki” model.


Let’s imagine that you have learned a secret , and this secret is so important , that you need to tell to someone. But let’s also imagine that you do not want your name to be releaved. For example, you might fear that you would be harmed, face jail or perhaps murdered if people find out that the secret has been revealed by you.

What would you do? You might go to the government, to disclose your secret. But what if the secret involves the government? Or what if the government needs to protect someone who played a role in your secret. The government might not help, or might bury your secret, and you with it. You might go to the police, but you cant believe the police force as it is usually part of the government. So you cannot trust police. You might go to a well-known reporter at a major news organization, but there is some risk that the reporter might consciously or accidentally reveal your identity or the reporter might bury your story as well.(may be because of money or some other reason).

In other words, if you have a big, dirty secret – especially one that involves the government or some other – it may be hard to get the secret out without getting your name revealed. But you want the world to know about the secret. In that case you can try Wikileaks, at Wikileaks.org.

What is Wikileaks?

Wikileaks describes itself in this way: “Wikileaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists.”

Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, a former Australian computer hacker.

Wikileaks is an international, online, non-profit journalist organization which is created to receive and publish sensitive information. The main goal of this website is to provide a safe environment to journalist, private or public organizations and individuals who wanted to broadcast secret information without their names get revealed. People who have access to controversial or classified(officially secret) documents can send them to the site.

Anyone can submit sensitive information to Wikileaks. They can do this through Wikileaks Submit documents page. Any information uploaded to Wikileaks is protected by a network of software.

Wikileaks claims that it has never revealed the names of informers. And Wikileaks provides a number of ways to submit material, as well as instructions for ensuring safe and anonymous Internet submissions. Based on its promise and track record of anonymity, Wikileaks has been able to break several important releases of secret material. First, someone has to gain possession of secret material in some way, and then that someone has to trust Wikileaks enough and send them the secret information.

Where might the leaked material come from? In the case of the email account ,a hacker had to break into the accounts and steal the emails.

But the most common, and most damaging, source of leaks comes from insiders. Insiders are those who works within organisation or with government. Insiders secretly collect the information and then send it to Wikileaks. Insiders might do this out of a sense of justice or as a form of revenge against an employer. Whatever the motive, several of the resulting leaks have been spectacular.

Wikileaks has benefited from several more major insider releases. For example, Wikileaks released hundreds of thousands of pages of information about the Iraq war, and has also released hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables(confidential messages exchanged between U.S diplomats with politicians,businessmen etc. of other countries). These cables reveal behind-the-scenes,comments and actions by U.S. diplomats.

Although, Wikileaks lets anyone to submit sensitive information to the website, they don’t get published instantly. Those information are thoroughly checked and verified to make it sure that the information is authentic, secure and no innocent will get hurt. A team of reviewers – volunteers from the press, journalists and Wikileaks staff – decides what is published.

Since Wikileaks first appeared on the internet, it has faced various legal challenges to take it offline. It is said that it had fought off more than 100 legal challenges successfully.

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit organisation, so funding is largely through volunteers, and it is dependent on public donations.

WikiLeaks’ main front is its web site(www.wikileaks.org), where you can find its current releases. But because the site is always under threat of being attacked or shut down, it also releases documents to major news media and on the bit torrent file sharing service.

The site has also been targeted in a series of cyber attacks. Various firms – including Amazon – have also terminated agreements to host the site and provide services to it. The website has no official headquarters but was hosting its web services in a former nuclear bunker in Sweden. There are other servers around the world but the main one is in Sweden. This is mainly because the Swedish law and its constitution is protective for Wikileaks activities

In addition, companies – including Mastercard, Visa and PayPal – have withdrawn the ability that allows people to donate to the site. Its Swiss bank account has also been closed. The site has faced several financial problems. In February 2010 it suspended operations as it could not afford its own running costs. Donations from individuals and organisations saved the site.

Despite all of these setbacks, Wikileaks has largely remained online. It has moved its operations between various companies and countries.

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