Feeds

German police boot down doors of Wikileaks offices

Authorities advance boundaries of internet censorship

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Analysis Government's tendency to moprh from blocking "child porn" to censoring discussion of all government censorship was illustrated this week when German Police raided the offices of Wikileaks Germany.

The German plods hit the whistle-blowing and anti-censorship group with the officially stated aims of "discovery of evidence" for "distribution of pornographic material".

The raids were carried out in Dresden and Jena on the homes of Theodor Reppe, who holds the domain registration for wikileaks.de - the German equivalent of wikileaks.org.

As well as wasting the time of 11 detectives involved in this raid, Wikileaks claim that police requested the passwords to the "wikileaks.de" domain, asked that the entire domain be disabled, failed to inform Mr Reppe of his rights, and then issued false statements claiming that Mr. Reppe had agreed to "not having a witness" present.

According to Wikileaks, the Police would give no further information to Mr. Reppe and no contact was made with Wikileaks before or after the search. Wikileaks are therefore in the dark as to exactly why the raid occurred.

A factor in the German police action may be the undertaking given by Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen that, by March, seven of the country's ISP's - which cover 95 percent of the internet market - will have signed a binding agreement to block traffic to child pornography sites.

Wikileaks’ view that information is a key ingredient in the freedom of the press is likely to have made it some powerful enemies, and led it to be lumped in with child pornographers in the eyes of the authorities.

Over the past year, it has published the "block lists" used by a number of countries – including Thailand and Denmark – to censor individual access to the web. In the last week, it published the list currently being used in trials of the "great Aussie firewall". To the embarrassment of the Australian government, about half the links on the published list related to material other than child porn, and included online poker sites, fetish, satanic and Christian sites.

Officials for the Australian Government have claimed that not all the links published by Wikileaks are on their list, and Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy issued a press release stating:

"There are some common URLs to those on the ACMA blacklist. However, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) advises that there are URLs on the published list that have never been the subject of a complaint or ACMA investigation, and have never been included on the ACMA blacklist."

Unfortunately, Australians will not be able to assess for themselves, because in a further twist to the story, the list of sites that may be subject to censorship has itself been added to the secret Australian blacklist of "Prohibited Online Content" – and censored.

An Australian anti-censorship activist submitted the Wikileaks page to ACMA, requesting that they censor it, under their internal guidelines. Their intention was to expose the "slippery scope" of the proposed Mandatory Internet Censorship scheme – and without so much as a hint of irony, ACMA complied.

Not only is it now prohibited to look at certain sites in Australia, it is prohibited to know which sites are prohibited.

This echoes developments in the Czech Republic, where an anti-censorship site was also subject to blocking via a Vodafone blacklist.

In the end, none of the Wikileaks domains were affected by these raids. However, this action must cause serious concern for all those who believe governmental restrictions on free speech are getting out of hand.

In Australia, during the last year, a tactic of those seeking to block the internet was to insinuate that those who questioned such a block were soft on child porn and might have a pro-paedophile agenda.

Now that that slur has been rebutted, the next step may be to extend the definition of distribution of child porn: not merely hosting it or passing it to third parties; but merely informing other people of where it is accessible. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.