2011-08-15 Some oddities about Openleaks

The recent controversy surrounding Openleaks and its founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg prompted us to have a closer look on the project. At first glance, the main media partner of the project appears to be TAZ, a well respected leftist publication, who granted Openleaks a subdomain during the initial test phase of the system. It can be accessed under https://leaks.taz.de/. There, one finds a brief outline of the project:

"Vom 11. bis 14. August 2011 bieten unter der Schirmherrschaft der deutschen Zeitung taz die tageszeitung, die deutsche Wochenzeitung Der Freitag, die portugisische Zeitung Expresso, die dänische Zeitung Information, sowie die NGO Foodwatch in Kooperation mit OpenLeaks diese öffentliche Plattform an. In dieser Zeit können Sie hier Dokumente hochladen, die im Anschluss durch die beteiligten Organisationen verarbeitet werden.

Ziel dieser Phase ist eine Sicherheitsüberprüfung des Systems während des Chaos Communication Camps 2011. "

It lists the media partners of the project and invites the public to submit documents, which will then be sent on to be processed by these media partners. It goes on to say: "The aim of this phase is to test the security of the system during the Chaos Communication Camp 2011".

To a reader, these statements appear strangely contradictory, as one is left wondering whether the public is indeed invited to submit genuine documents, or whether this is just a test run. In fact, as a brief search of older TAZ articles reveals, the present interface is merely an alpha version of Openleaks. In the light of these facts, the project would have been better advised to make it absolutely clear that the public should only submit test files.

This brief blurb also reveals also the second major news partner on German soil, weekly newspaper Der Freitag, which recently changed ownership and is now expanding its online presence. As TAZ, it is rather leftist. In a recent contribution, editor in chief Jakob Augstein discusses the concept of Openleaks and describes his motives for joining the project. He also mentions Wikileaks as an example for a flawed submission platform.

Of particular interest about this newspaper are its business associates. In 2009, Der Freitag set up a partnership with The Guardian, and is now publishing a few of its articles per month in German translation. Thus, there is an indirect connection between two parties who had a rather public fall out with Wikileaks, The Guardian, and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the founder of Openleaks.

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