If you’ve been listening to the news lately you can hardly have missed the furore caused by WikiLeaks publication of 250,000 US Embassy Diplomatic Cables.
This has led to a worldwide embarrassment for everyone from government and embassy employees to high profile businesses people and even royalty. The site has suffered loss of it’s Domain Name Service (which allows you to find their site on the Internet), denial of service attacks on their website and the WikiLeaks site being kicked off their hosting by Amazon.
The latest blow is loss of PayPal as a means of fund raising. A short statement on the PayPal blog says “PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action.”
Wikileak’s actions have opened up some interesting questions. Whilst it’s undoubtedly against the law to leak classified information it’s unclear exactly what crime receiving and publishing the information is. Amazon carefully explain in their statement why they’re no longer prepared to host the Wikileak site, PayPal give no explanation.
The internet is a powerful phenomenon, and the Wikileak story demonstrates how unregulated it is which is exactly how it has been designed to be. What happens when there’s a desire to control the information published on the Internet is a problem that countries and governments have yet to solve. Although the Wikileak site is now unreachable from many countries it can still be viewed from others, on alternative website hosting, and how the story will end has yet to be seen.
Edited to add: Following the publication of the statement it appears that the PayPal blog is redirecting to a text only format of the statement. However the full blog is still accessible on a secure server at https://www.thepaypalblog.com/