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Monday, February 18, 2008

U.S. Court Wields the Censorship Hammer on Wikileaks

Wikileaks, a website that has brought to light many scandalous acts by giving whistleblowers a forum to expose wrong doing anonomously, has been ordered by US District Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California to display blank pages and goes even further by barring them from redirecting traffic to offshore servers. It also bars them from transfering ownership of the domain name wikileaks.org. Once again, a Bush appointed judge has over-extended the government's conrtrol over our essential freedoms. If ever there were any doubt about our Constitution being under attack, this would be a shining example.

Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by people from a host of countries, including the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. It has generated headlines by hosting documents exposing several high-profile scandals, including those related to the collapse of the UK's Northern Rock bank and to prisons in Iraq and and Guantanamo Bay. The site says it has posted more than 1.2 million documents.
In the case in dispute, Wikileaks claimed a bank located in the Cayman Islands engaged in money laundering and tax evasion. The latest agreement came in a lawsuit brought by Bank Julius Baer, the parent company of the accused Cayman bank. After trying unsuccessfully to get Wikileaks to remove the documents, Swiss-based Julius Baer went after Dynadot, the California web hosting company, which according to this copy of the court order, agreed to roll over in exchange for the suit against it being dismissed. Dynadot also agreed to turn over records related to Wikileaks, including "IP addresses and associated data used by any person, other than Dynadot, who accessed the account for the domain name". Wikileaks claims that it is an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis". But this is true only if its webhosts can be trusted not to pull the plug on its customers or divulge sensitive client information.

Wikileaks lawyers were given only a few hours notice of this latest hearing, and amazingly the judge allowed the hearing to proceed and issued the injunction without hearing any counter-claim from Wikileaks lawyers. One would hope that this type of shotgun injunction will be overturned on appeal based on the patent unfairness of the proceedings. It would also appear that the court is engaging in what amounts to Government sanctioned censorship. It all is a fascinating story to follow.

Wikileaks has also been banned in China and Thailand. Apparently they have pissed off many rich and powerful people around the world. It will be interesting how this plays out in the U.S. courts, as I'm sure this is only round number one. Stay tuned for more on this one.....

Wikileaks.org under injunction - Wikileaks
(you may get a certificate error from this link, but it is safe to follow)

This is the main site: (hosted outside of the U.S. of course)

https://wikileaks.be/wiki/Wikileaks
(you may get a certificate error from this link, but it is safe to follow)
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