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@WikiLeaks an idea: let us ordinary people blind-peer review, redact and release one random cable each!

Idea:

Crowdsource the review and redaction efforts.  Allow people to log in with their facebook accounts, pick up a single random document each, redact it and submit it back to the site for posting. Once two (preferably more) different people have blind-peer reviewed and redacted any particular document, it is automatically released.  The released version redacts all the areas that were jointly “agreed” to be redacted by all blind-peer reviewers (blind peer reviewers do not know the identity of each other and are selected randomly).  Each document that is released anonymously attaches the redaction version of the people who did the redaction and any notes.  No person is allowed to redact more than one document (per period, say 1 month) and their FB account is tied to that document in case of improper behaviour. This way, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people can help the redaction efforts by donating just a few minutes of their time to review and redact one document.  The blame / responsibility of releases gets distributed among hundreds of thousands of people across the world, who would be very difficult to prosecute, even if their names became public. 🙂

Assumptions:

  • People in general are good
  • They will take such a responsibility very seriously and can do the redaction job
  • People will donate a few minutes to help protect our First Amendment right
  • This is a nice step into participatory democracy which we should all welcome

Benefits:

  • Distributed Responsibility
    • Distribution allows many people to participate and donate their time / energy / name to the cause.
    • >650K people on the Wikileaks FB Fan Page.
      • That’s 3 per leaked cable!
    • Easy for each person to exercise their first amendment right and help
    • Should take less than half an hour to redact a cable and release it.
  • Parallel Processing = Speed
    • Parallel Processing, means much faster releases than the current rate which would take more than 25 years to release these docs
  • Low Probability of Harming Innocents
    • Chances of releasing a relevant raw (unredacted) document to a violent interested party is very very low, since there are more than 200,000 documents and each person can only ever work on one.
    • This means site would be using extraordinary care (probability theory) to protect the lives of innocents (helps in legal defense)
    • The more leaked documents, the better the care that’s being used to protect the innocent… (1 million docs, means 1 in a million chance of giving a doc to a bad guy)
  • Blind Peer Review = Checks / Balances
    • Puts the wiki into the leaks
    • Each document that is released has been blind-peer reviewed and looked at by two or more ordinary citizens
    • Chance that two who match are corrupt and trying to do something malicious is very very low
    • Official criticism would have to be that ordinary people can’t be trusted…  but, that’s not a very democratic notion. 🙂
  • Powered by the People!
    • No longer one crazy person… this would allow hundreds of thousands of ordinary people to get involved in doing the redacting and releasing
    • Makes this a people-powered global democratic movement
    • Democracy itself will be at question if ordinary citizens can’t be trusted with such a simple chore or charged with being spies.
  • Much More Difficult to Prosecute
    • Anonymously linking the redaction versions of each person, two or more to each release, means that anyone can see the care that was taken to do the redactions.
    • It also means that prosecution for each leak would have to involve several individuals in different countries (hopefully 200,000 different cases) and therefore be very very difficult:
      • People will very likely be unrelated
      • People will very likely be from different countries / locations
      • People will very likely have been careful in their redactions
      • Innocent errors will be hard to prosecute and systematic abuse will be impossible to coordinate (due to random distribution of one doc / period / person).

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One thought on “@WikiLeaks an idea: let us ordinary people blind-peer review, redact and release one random cable each!

  1. Shaheen says:

    Have you thought of a torrent tracking service?

    Instead of submitting into a single site, which despite best efforts can be simply shut down if needed, and has already itself leaked its sources[1], I would have multiple torrent trackers (with a front facing RSS feeder to some centralized websites like wikileaks check out torrentz.eu).

    With torrent trackers, even the site will not be able to correctly identify the source, achieving real anonymity. Ranking comes from how many seeds/leaches are using the torrent (People vote by downloading). Since it is a torrent, the bits are gathered from multiple sources around the world, and it is one of the hardest application layer protocols to track.

    Redaction is the choice of the author, and if others want to they can redact and put back into torrent. Which every redaction is better, will be excepted based on the number of seeds/leaches (Users votes).

    Since torrents were designed to decentralize information for faster access on asymmetric internet connection, which by definition also create distribution, the effect is having 1000 of users any of which could be the source, the redactor, or a reader, of a given document. Redaction history is also maintained, each redaction gets a new torrent tag.

    The only draw back is it requires people to have some kind of torrent client to post and or download documents. Perhaps there can be a central site which simply publishes from the torrents, based on popularity, which as I mentioned would be based on seed/leaches.

    [1] — http://www.aolnews.com/2010/07/26/wikileaks-beyond-the-headlines-4-basic-questions-answered/

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