If Wikileaks does turn itself into a for-profit entity, auctioning off state secrets to the highest bidder, their new corporate slogan could be “don’t leak on me.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now makes his associates sign a draconian nondisclosure agreement that, among other things, asserts that the organization’s huge trove of leaked material is “solely the property of WikiLeaks,” according to a report Wednesday.
“You accept and agree that the information disclosed, or to be disclosed to you pursuant to this agreement is, by its nature, valuable proprietary commercial information,” the agreement reads, “the misuse or unauthorized disclosure of which would be likely to cause us considerable damage.”
The confidentiality agreement (.pdf), revealed by the New Statesman, imposes a penalty of 12 million British pounds– nearly $20 million — on anyone responsible for a significant leak of the organization’s unpublished material. The figure is based on a “typical open-market valuation” of WikiLeaks’ collection, the agreement claims.
Interestingly, the agreement warns that any breach is likely to cause WikiLeaks to lose the “opportunity to sell the information to other news broadcasters and publishers.”
WikiLeaks is not known to have sold any of its leaked material, though Assange has discussed the possibility in the past. The organization announced in 2008 that it was auctioning off early access to thousands of e-mails belonging to a top aide to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, but the auction ultimately fell apart.
So Wikileaks cares about protecting its proprietary information and intellectual property, but believes that governments have no right to protect their classified data. Well that’s not the least bit hypocritical …
Alternet, your witness:
The prospect of Wikileaks as a for-profit operation would change the whole game, rendering hollow Assange’s persona as a government disclosure crusader. Revealing state secrets for the greater public good is one thing; charging money for them is an entirely other thing (that also might compromise his whole outside-the-laws-of-espionage situation).
New Statesman? Your turn:
All this legalese can only mean that WikiLeaks takes the commercial aspect of selling “its” information seriously: there would be no other reason for this document to have such precise, onerous and unusual provisions.
On the basis of this legal gag alone, it would be fair to take the view that WikiLeaks is nothing other a highly commercially charged enterprise, seeking to protect and maximise its earnings from selling information that has been leaked to it. If so, WikiLeaks is nothing other than a business.
As opposed to a selfless crusade to save humanity? Say it isn’t so…