Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, December 03, 2010

  Wikileaks reduced to an IP address overseas

At first I thought wikileaks' loss of their .org domain either a convenient excuse or an example of technical incompetence. I mean, if a DDoS could take out the .org root there is something seriously wrong with the people running it.

It turned out that wikileaks wasn't running their own DNS servers, but relying on the free US based service, EveryDNS to propagate their IP addresses. IF wikileaks was using their own DNS servers, and merely using a primary .org as the root, they'd be able to not only lower the load on any given root server - but be able to tackle and analyse the sources of the DDoS attacks on their own, which I think would be a very interesting investigation in and of itself. I'd like very much to see the sources of the DDoS published.

John Gilmore famously wrote, in 1993, “The Net views censorship as damage, and routes around it.”

That was in an age of Netnews, where tens of thousands of copies of any given message existed on tens of thousands of servers distributed throughout the world, managed by a network of volunteers, and the contents, more or less - covered by common carrier law. The Net, then, as we knew it - was impossible to censor.

What we call the cloud today is very weak in comparison to netnews, and putting your data in the cloud is subject to arbitrary constraints.

In our new, golden age of the web based internet, information tends to reside in one place, on only a few IP addresses, where the loss of DNS or web services is crippling. The Streisand Effect is no longer as effective as it used to be, particularly with the infrastructure required to build a modern website in early 2000's style - php, database backends, etc, etc.

I remained puzzled as to why wikileaks isn't using (whats left of) netnews, and rss, and tor (.onion), using blogger and things like github, and opennic to get their information out, and also putting up mirrors on IPv6, and signing up volunteer mirror DNS and web sites left and right. I don't know how their site is designed but it should be shipping out static html via some non-interactive wiki compiler and a database that's duplicable and other easily mirrored techniques like that to lighten the server load and make DDoS attacks less feasible.

Update: Since writing this post I've discovered that there are now a LOT of sites mirroring wikileaks. Here's one. Another site documents many more mirrors as well as a tor (only findable if you install tor) and freenet site. Still..

The 80 cable-a-day format of wikileaks's current strategy would be perfect for highly entertaining netnews newsfeed, actually, but I don't know if what is left of the netnews network can still function, or if anybody but me still reads it. RSS would be highly distributable as well, with a bunch of mirror sites signed up. I'm glad twitter exists, but netnews would be better.

While I have deeply mixed feelings about the content of wikileak's current stash, and feel the timing of the release is being used for other purposes (or, worse, is all the hoo-rah a distraction to take away attention from the shenanigans at the federal reserve? or the 9.8% jobless rate?), I feel wikileaks has brought good information to light in the past, and more is promised for the future...

...and I wish more of the Net story was about the content of the cables, rather than wikileaks's battle to stay online, and about how censorship, of any kind, is a bad thing, for all citizens of the world.

I can forgive EveryDNS for bailing on providing services to wikileaks, as they were working for free - but not Amazon.

EveryDNS posted yesterday:

Wikileaks's services were terminated for violation of the provision which states that "Member shall not interfere with another Member's use and enjoyment of the Service or another entity's use and enjoyment of similar services." The interference at issues arises from the fact that wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites.

BUT As for this level of doublespeak from my own government:



I would love for the state department to define what, exactly, IS, a media organization... or when it is, or isn't.

In our increasingly Orwellian world, I still (barely) remember the history of and ultimate fate of paranoia.com.

Bonus link: Glenn Greenwald, in full flower.

Update II: I feel remiss in talking about the controversy rather than the issues raised by the leakage so far. Here's a list (via greenwald, above) of the kind of stuff wikileaks is bringing to light:


(1) the U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;
(2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA's kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent;
(3) the State Department under Bush and Obama applied continuous pressure on the Spanish Government to suppress investigations of the CIA's torture of its citizens and the 2003 killing of a Spanish photojournalist when the U.S. military fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad (see The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch today about this: "The day Barack Obama Lied to me"); 
(4) the British Government privately promised to shield Bush officials from embarrassment as part of its Iraq War "investigation"; 
(5) there were at least 15,000 people killed in Iraq that were previously uncounted;
(6) "American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world" about the Iraq war as it was prosecuted, a conclusion the Post's own former Baghdad Bureau Chief wrote was proven by the WikiLeaks documents;
(7) the U.S.'s own Ambassador concluded that the July, 2009 removal of the Honduran President was illegal -- a coup -- but the State Department did not want to conclude that and thus ignored it until it was too late to matter;
(8) U.S. and British officials colluded to allow the U.S. to keep cluster bombs on British soil even though Britain had signed the treaty banning such weapons, and,
(9) Hillary Clinton's State Department ordered diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data on U.N. and other foreign officials, almost certainly in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961. 


If wikileaks isn't a media organisation, then what is?

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