30 Nov 2010

Wikileaks’ Mirror Sites Defy US Authority

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Cade Metz, in the Register, outlines the technological strategy that allows Wikileaks to use host-servers on US soil, while enjoying impunity from interference by federal authorities.

WikiLeaks is hosting its cache of confidential US Statement Department cables on US-based Amazon servers, just as it did with with the classified Iraq War documents it released last month.

According to NetCraft’s records, the whistle-blowing website is mirroring the diplomatic cables on Amazon’s US-based EC2 service and France-based servers operated by French ISP Octopuce. The main WikiLeaks site is mirrored on Ireland-based Amazon servers.

WikiLeaks also uses a US-based domain name registrar (Dynadot) and a US-based DNS service (EveryDNS).

In theory, if the US government decides that WikiLeaks has broken the law in publishing federal intelligence data, it could move to have WikiLeaks booted from such US-based servers. But WikiLeaks could simply fall back on its core servers — presumably still hosted by “bulletproof” Swedish hosting outfit PRQ — and the feds would take a PR hit.

Clearly, this is how WikiLeaks reads the situation, as it continues to use Amazon’s US-based “cloud” service to accomodate extra demand for its data.

In an added twist, the whistle-blower is also using software from Seattle-based outfit Tableau to visually map its trove of leaked diplomatic cables. Tableau grew out of a project run by the US Department of Defense.


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