28 June 2020

A Good Alternative to Wikileaks is Promptly Censored by Twitter

DDoSecrets has been established to facilitate sharing secrets, and Twitter promptly banned them and declared the site a virus risk:
For the past year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sat in a London jail awaiting extradition to the US. This week, the US Justice Department piled on yet more hacking conspiracy allegations against him, all related to his decade-plus at the helm of an organization that exposed reams of government and corporate secrets to the public. But in Assange's absence, another group has picked up where WikiLeaks left off—and is also picking new fights.

For roughly the past year and a half, a small group of activists known as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, has quietly but steadily released a stream of hacked and leaked documents, from Russian oligarchs' emails to the stolen communications of Chilean military leaders to shell company databases. Late last week, the group unleashed its most high-profile leak yet: BlueLeaks, a 269-gigabyte collection of more than a million police files provided to DDoSecrets by a source aligned with the hacktivist group Anonymous, spanning emails, audio files, and interagency memos largely pulled from law enforcement "fusion centers," which serve as intelligence-sharing hubs. According to DDoSecrets, it represents the largest-ever release of hacked US police data. It may put DDoSecrets on the map as the heir to WikiLeaks' mission—or at least the one it adhered to in its earlier, more idealistic years—and the inheritor of its never-ending battles against critics and censors.

"Our role is to archive and publish leaked and hacked data of potential public interest," writes the group's cofounder, Emma Best, a longtime transparency activist, in a text message interview with WIRED. "We want to inspire people to come forward, and release accurate information regardless of its source."

………

For DDoSecrets, the firefight has already started. On Tuesday evening, as media attention grew around the BlueLeaks release, Twitter banned the group's account, citing a policy that it doesn't allow the publication of hacked information. The company followed up with an even more drastic step, removing tweets that link to the DDoSecrets website, which maintains a searchable database of all of its leaks, and suspending some accounts retroactively for linking to the group's material.

Best says DDoSecrets, an organization with no address and whose shoestring budget runs mostly on donations, is still strategizing a response and the best workaround to publicize its leaks—potentially shifting to Telegram or Reddit—but has no intention of letting the ban halt its work. "'Too dangerous for Twitter' is some Nixonian sh%$ I didn't expect," Best says.
Their superpower here appears to be that they are not assholes, as Assange of Wikileaks is, and that they have some more objective standards.

As to BlueLeaks, it is pretty big deal:
The documents reveal what information the police have on people -- it’s even searchable by police badge number.

The result is shocking.

The leak revealed incidents of the FBI forwarding Tweets they deemed “threatening” to police departments, classifying protest medics and lawyers as “extremists”, and Google providing detailed information about its users on request.
As an aside, even if you do not want to read BlueLeaks, I strongly recommend that you download the file for 2 reasons:
  • Every copy makes it harder to put the genie back into the bottle.
  • The nature of the method of distribution, Bit Torrent, means that if you download the document, you are also make the document more available to other downloaders.

Here is the leak for DDoSecrets, and you can try to access the files driectly from the web site, but this will hammer the site, so I recommend that you download the whole file via Bit Torrent.

Note however that the file is large enough that many Bit Torrent clients will not work, so I would recommend Transmission, and you can download the portable version, which does not require an installation program or admin privileges.

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