Is a deletion maybe the only option to get a global leaking platform working again?

(Das ist die Übersetzung eines Blogposts von Fefe, der hier permanent einsehbar ist. Ich wurde gebeten zu ergänzen, dass NICHTS HIERVON eine Positionierung des CCC darstellt.

This is a translation of a blog post by Fefe, the original is to be found here: I was asked to add, that NONE OF THIS is to be regarded as the official position of the CCC.)


This Openleaks-Wikileaks bitchery is increasingly getting worse. I was musing for some days, now, how we can get out of this thing at all. There’s a conviction growing inside of me, that this is utterly impossible by now.

Here is my train of thought on this.

Daniel said, that he was willing to hand back the data, when Julian can establish a proper degree of safety* and security* (translator’s remark: German „Sicherheit“ means both, „security“ and „safety“ – above that it means „surety“ / „certainty“. To stay out of semantic trouble, I coordinate plausible translations by „and“, if there’s not an overbearing tendency towards either meaning). Thus he stated publicly, that he is responsible for safety and security of these whistleblowers. By doing so, IMO, he has also shredded the possibility of striking a reasonable deal. Because – let’s assume Julian comes along and says that he built something. While we keep in mind that Daniel has taken responsibility for the submitters. So he won‘t be able to hand it over, unless he is certain, that Julian’s installation is secure. How is he going to check up on this? Can he even do that, at all? Why would he want to check this? After all, that’s his competitor and he should pretty well invest his time into checking his own platform, not into checking Julian’s.

Ultimately, Daniel can only be on the losing side if he gives in to this. Therefore I do not believe, that this will happen.

For citizens and whistleblowers this would of course be perfect, Julian and Daniel competing in a race to find each other’s bugs, because in the end both platforms would gain security during the process. :-)

My major point is: Daniel cannot hand the data back. Because doing so, he would confirm that Julian’s platform is secure. And what if, then, some part of the data gets lost? Then Daniel would be in for it, PR-wise. If Julian is really as evil as Daniel seems to believe, Daniel even had to assume that Julian „loses“ the data intentionally, just to let Daniel look bad.

To put it short: By his utterance, Daniel has manoeuvred himself into a corner, and there is no way out.

The currently discussed alternative of deletion would be the only conceivable compromise remaining for Daniel right now. That is why it does not surprise me, that this is being discussed right now. I have raised this idea at the Camp with a select couple of people, but Daniel’s team was faster, they already discussed that, before my suggestion got through to them.

Deletion is good for a start, because Daniel would do away with future harm for him and his project. The very existence of these data is a sword of Damocles. Anyhow, I cannot comprehend, how he could live with such a booby-trap in his vicinity for so long. Considering how palpably the Americans wrenched Bradley Manning, and the fact that there could be data within these leaks that are of just as much or even higher brisance, then my gut reaction would have been to get rid of them immediately, or to not take them along in the first place.

But the problem is not solved in the event of deletion. Because in a way, that would be his betrayal of the whistleblowers. Some risked their lives forwarding the data to Wikileaks. And considering the trust Wikileaks enjoyed, and the possible brisance of these data, I can pretty well imagine, that the whistleblowers themselves disposed of them after sending them to Wikileaks. If I were a whitleblower, I would handle it this way. You would not want to leave any trace to evidence incriminating you as a whistleblower! Albeit, the data would be demolished, if Daniel really deletes them. The bitching problem would be defused alright, but then again, these whistleblowers would have risked their lives for nothing.

And the other issue is, that we are dealing with a crisis of trust and confidence. If someone did not trust Daniel up to now, then they will not trust Daniel that he did not make a quick backup before the deletion.

This is why I view the deletion more as a gesture than as a solution. But it is a gesture at all. The other aspects of this trench warfare are more remindful of the trenches of Verdun than of negotiations that could lead to any kind of an amicable agreement.

My main worry is, that there is maybe no solution to this problem. Except if Daniel and Julian start getting along with each other again, but this kind of prospect looks rather dim.


A different alternative worthy of discussion would be, that Daniel hands over the data to a trusted third party that takes care of wiping the metadata and hands the data over to Julian. But I do not deem this feasable, either. First: Who will bear responsibility? Daniel would still not be off the hook, PR-wise.

Second: Which third party should that be? Apparently, the CCC is not in this race any more.

And third: Why should Julian agree to that? Currently he is not able to publish anything out of his house arrest, and in terms of game theory, he is in the perfect situation for fingerpointing towards „Daniel the saboteur“. He can only lose by yielding to that. Oh and by the way, if he gets the data, and restarts publishing leaks again, doing so he admits to not getting a submission process done, that he is in need of Daniel’s preliminary work, in order to offer any content, at all. Why should he do that?

UPDATE: Of course it is not helpful for the narrative, when Daniel torpedoes his own demands to Julian’s submitter protection with utterances like this:

On demand, Domscheit-Berg confirms, his wording in the Freitag interview were unprecise and had „slipped his attention“ during authorization. Indeed some of the activists had access to the data, theoretically, but Openleaks had no intention of using the data.

UPDATE: Maybe I do misinterpret it, as yet, and in fact they really do not want to erase the data, but only the keys to them. So far, I deemed this a misreporting by the media, who do not understand this difference. The key’s deletion could be valued as the assertion, that Openleaks is not going to utilize the data. IMO, nobody thinks so, anyway. Then this whole procedure would be an absolute dummy action, because the only one this would have to be proven to, Julian, certainly does not believe that. After all, there still could be „backups“ of the key in Daniel’s living room or something like that.


(If you want to use this translation of Fefe’s blogpost, please feel free to contact him for permission, as for the content or quotes. I hereby allow usage of my translation – especially, but not restricted to, Fair Use – under mention of source (i.e. and free of charge.)

2 Antworten auf „Is a deletion maybe the only option to get a global leaking platform working again?“

  1. 1 Gerhard Steiner 20. August 2011 um 13:17 Uhr

    Schul-denglish. Sorry.

  2. 2 eigensinn 21. August 2011 um 15:13 Uhr

    @ Gerhard Steiner
    Danke für den Kommentar!

    Es ist nicht so, als ob ich Übersetzen studieren würde! Mir ging es hauptsächlich um den zeitnahen Gebrauchswert. ;-)


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