Sunday, November 28, 2010

WikiLeaks Hit by DOS Attack. Police Seek Increased Internet Powers

Logo used by WikileaksImage via Wikipedia
The backlash against Wikileaks continues apace today, November 28th, with the site claiming on its Twitter page to be "under a mass distributed denial of service attack."

The site today began the process of releasing hundreds of thousands of official diplomatic reports from American embassies and the US State Department, revealing intimate details of discussions between and about America's allies, trade partners and hostile regimes around the world.

The New York Times is publishing a series of articles based on the diplomatic leaks. Today's revelations include insights into diplomatic activity with China concerning the possible reunification of Korea, candid observations on corruption within the Afghan government and the incentives offered to nations to take Guantanamo inmates since President Obama came into office.

Today's attack on the Wikileaks site follows an official condemnation of the leak by the White House, which describes the leaks as "reckless and dangerous" as well as illegal.

The DOS attack, presumably carried out under the authorisation of the CIA, coincides with a report on the BBC website that the UK's Serious and Organised Crime Agency are seeking statutory powers in the UK to shut down web sites which are "deemed to be engaged in criminal activity". That is, before a conviction has been secured in a court of law!

As is often the case when the authorities want extra power, worst case scenarios are usually presented which, it is claimed, will be resolved, prevented or cured if the police are allowed to do X, Y or Z. Web sites that sell drugs, guns or humans for sex trafficking will no doubt be presented as the kind of sites that the police are currently "powerless" to act against under the "limitations" of current legislation.

In fact, such powers, were they to be granted, will be not only be used against organised crime, if recent experiences in the UK are anything to go by.

Following the recent storming of the Conservative Party HQ in central London by a small number of around 50,000 demonstrators taking part in a protest against a trebling in the cost of university tuition fees, some criminal damage was done to the building and one protester threw a fire extinguisher off the roof of the building towards police below.

The web site FIT Watch followed up the mini-riot with an article advising those who had taken part in the demonstration on how to conduct themselves if they found themselves at the receiving end of police inquiries following.

The police then applied to the site's web hosts, the ironically-named Justhost, requesting that the site be suspended, which the company rather meekly agreed to.

Fit Watch - which I am not an uncritical supporter of - has since been re-hosted (here) and is continuing to publish articles that the police would, presumably, prefer that they didn't.

All of which puts the request of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency for the ability to close down "criminal sites" into some perspective.

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