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How WikiLeaks Has Changed: From Whistleblower To Weapon


Until the DNC leak, WikiLeaks’s arguably most famous release was the trove of U.S. State Department cables leaked by the soldier now known as Chelsea Manning. In that case, WikiLeaks worked with prominent news organizations from around the world to vet and redact the cables to protect people who could be endangered by their publication.

“They basically used them as the first kind of line of gatekeepers,” says Arun Vishwanath, a professor of communication at the University at Buffalo who studies digital security. Although the organization later controversially released the entire, unredacted dataset after it had been unwittingly leaked through a separate channel, it initially won some praise for its caution in taking time to redact the information.

But last week, the organization released the cache of DNC emails without any apparent filtering or redaction, leaving in place private information like the Social Security and passport numbers, names, and addresses of Democratic donors.

“In this particular case, this seems like just like a whole lot of data being released without it being vetted by anybody,” Vishwanath says. “Something’s changing, in my opinion.”

To many outside observers, the data release, which exposed apparent bias by top DNC officials against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and led to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, also seemed timed to the start of the Democratic nominating convention, lending credence to suggestions that the data was leaked by Russian intelligence officials looking to see Donald Trump elected president. – READ MORE

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