Shortly after the prosecution date for Julian Assange in the United States, we will study his media approach in management of WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange, founder and director of the WikiLeaks website, has met withdrawal of citizenship by Ecuador Government in recent days, and has been pursued by the United States government. Politicians and officials arguing for and against WikiLeaks activity have frequently surveyed this website’s activity.
WikiLeaks’ framework and mechanism are the points that have been less studied over the past few years. In this document, we will look into this website and its cultural heritage for the media.
Julian Assange created a new revolutionary model for journalists who are actively involved in such sphere using encryption and virtual drop-boxes. The website is not concerned with publication of any confidential documents and revelations of any classified data.
Although Assange's arrest in London ended 13 years of WikiLeaks’ activity on April 11, his valuable legacy will remain alive for many years.
With his remarkable ability in hacking and encryption, Assange has published the state secrets of pro-democracy countries and challenged the claims they raised. Nowadays, many political activists in the world believe that using some technologies for theft and dissemination of information is very helpful in applying fundamental changes in the structure of governments.
In 2006, Julian Assange designed an online platform with an anonymous encrypted route to prevent recognition.
We freed the Encryption
The leakage of information has always been one of the vital elements of journalism; but before WikiLeaks, no one has ever built such a safe and specialized platform with an expanded capacity for publishing such documents. He initiated the movement in the golden age of making a serious emerging world and social media.
In that period, Assange's goal was to democratize the powers and monopoly that governments had.
“Cryptography was then the exclusive property of states. By writing our own software and disseminating it far and wide we liberated cryptography, democratized it and spread it through the frontiers of the new internet.” He wrote in In 2013.
The first revealed document on WikiLeaks website was a secret order on assassination from one of Somalia's rebel leaders in 2006. Although the authenticity of that document had never been confirmed or denied, it drew attention to this new information base.
In 2007, the website increased its activity by publishing evidences of Kenyan officials ' corruption, the secret laws of Guantanamo prison and some Swiss bank cases.
This movement attracted many of the world's media attention to topics covered by governments for many years, and over time, the term “confidential” took a new meaning.
In 2010, Chelsea Manning, One of the intelligence service officers in US army, started sending hundreds of army’s confidential data to WikiLeaks.
This information includes documents and videos of US crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan war. For instance, a video of an American Apache helicopter attack on 18 civilians and two Reuters correspondents was published then.
These documents could have not been published in the era of fax and old printers. WikiLeaks was the first to make confidential information leak into the main stream of media in the world.
With the release of Manning's papers, Assange attracted the attention of Medias such as the New York Times, the Guardian and SPIEGEL. Now WikiLeaks has been turned into the world leader in free flow of information. At that period, the success of WikiLeaks speeded up sharply. The website won many media awards and the image of Julian Assange was printed at Time magazine cover.
“What WikiLeaks demonstrated was the potential for a stateless transparency organization to get around the ability of the most powerful governments in the world to suppress information,” said Micah Sifry, author of a 2011 book on WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks, A New Role Model for Media
Julian Assange faded like a star as he reached the peak of success. The political pressure of governments to contain WikiLeaks had become very intense. Some influential statesmen put pressure on credit companies to cut back on Assange's finances.
On the other hand, the exclusive character of the founder of Wikileaks has made this game a single-player show. His insistence on releasing all confidential documents precipitously, regardless of considering people's lives protection, human rights and the anonymity of resources, his place was shaken.
Assange's craft of acquiring and transmitting information became a common practice for journalists in this field. Several websites were created around the world emulating WikiLeaks, and additionaly, journalists learned to use WikiLeaks’ encryption algorithms.
The disclosure of the secret information of the US government was a strong indication for the world’s governments. This WikiLeaks action proved that no one can keep the information under control in the age of the Internet.
Development and prevalence of SecureDrop
In 2013, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has given full support to WikiLeaks, developed software as a platform for anonymous communication between journalists and information sources under the influence of this whistleblowing media.
The software, called SecureDrop, enabled the sources of information to send their documents and information to the whistleblowing sites anonymously, and the recipients were also unable to track files and information. Over a short time, SecureDrop became one of the most important structure used by journalists around the world.
WikiLeaks has experienced various ups and downs during his 13-year career. Many beneficiaries of Assange's arrest and the closure of his web site repeatedly charged him with numerous moral charges and ultimately succeeded in arresting and imprisoning him.
Despite the withdrawal of Julian Assange's nationality and the commencement of his extradition process to the United States, it can be surely said that his movement changed the mechanism and the atmosphere of journalism around the world, and broke the taboo of conquest and monopoly power in the hands of the dominant governments of the world forever. In today's world, none of the hegemons in the world can control the free flow of information and prevent the leakage of confidential data.