Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wikileaks Controversy Continues With Cyberwar and Russian Calls To Give Assange Nobel Peace Prize

Hackers have gone after those who have severed ties with Wikileaks, including Visa and Mastercard, Paypal, and even ABC News.

People don't seem to understand that companies are free to contract with whatever parties them deem fit. They are not required to host companies that are antithetical to their own interests on servers, process payments, or advertise for them. If contracts were signed between the parties (or Assange and his cohorts clicked on assenting to the terms of service (TOS) for using PayPal, servers, etc.), then they are bound to those contracts.

Violations of TOS, which can include any number of criminal activities, or hate speech, incitement to violence, etc., can result in shutdown. Wikileaks is hosting illegally obtained information and classified information. Companies are not required to aid and abet Wikileaks criminal activities, which is the gist of those who are now hacking ABC News, Visa, and others who are apparently trying to extricate themselves from connections with Wikileaks over TOS violations (among other things).

If a company wants to sully its reputation by remaining connected with Wikileaks via hosting, payment services, etc., that's up to the individual company, but I'm sure that legal staff on more reputable organizations are going to shy away from those connections.

At the same time, the US is in talks with Sweden to extradite Assange to the US. That's not particularly surprising given the range of laws that Assange could be charged with, including possession and retransmission of classified documents.

Russian PM's office thinks Assange should get the Nobel Peace Prize.
In what appears to be a calculated dig at the US, the Kremlin urged non-governmental organisations to think seriously about "nominating Assange as a Nobel Prize laureate".

"Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him," the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev's office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: "Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate."

Russia's reflexively suspicious leadership appears to have come round to WikiLeaks, having decided that the ongoing torrent of disclosures are ultimately far more damaging and disastrous to America's long-term geopolitical interests than they are to Russia's.

The Kremlin's initial reaction to stories dubbing Russia a corrupt "mafia state" and kleptocracy was, predictably, negative. Last week Medvedev's spokesman dubbed the revelations "not worthy of comment" while Putin raged that a US diplomatic cable comparing him to Batman and Medvedev to Robin was "arrogant" and "unethical". State TV ignored the claims.
Are. You. Kidding. Me?

Would the Russian government be singing that tune had Wikileaks sprung all manner of leak about Russian foreign policy, diplomatic cables, and analysis? I don't think so. In fact, I think they'd be engaging in all manner of spycraft to go after those involved in the leaks as the Russians are far less constrained by notions of human rights and civil liberties than the US.

No, this is all about rubbing salt in the wound and it isn't exactly going to improve US-Russian relations either.

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