Friday, 3 December 2010

How to avoid government's "censorship"?

updated on France on December 4th, 0400 PST 
updated on PayPal on December 5th, 0300 PST
updated on VISA and MasterCard on December 7th, 1300 PST 
On-line presence (hosting+domain name)
After Amazon decided not to host the WikiLeaks content on Dec. 3rd, WikiLeaks had to move again. Additionally US-based DNS provider ( stopped providing DNS services to WikiLeaks at 2200 U.S. Eastern time (EST) on Thursday causing complete inaccessibility of the web page.

update: More actions has been taken in France "French Minister Besson sent out a letter asking CGIET (Le Conseil général de l'industrie, de l'énergie et des technologies) for action. French ISP - OVH - replied he asked his lawyer for immediate query to Justice to state the case, claiming neither the Minister, nor the ISP cannot decide what is legal. The French press summarised it as OVH 1 – Besson 0" says Elisabeth Porteneuve, French ICT Market Expert

Julian Assange's decision of hosting WikiLeaks, using US-based DNS servers, US-based hosting as well as US-based Registry (.ORG domain) and Registrar (DynaDot) were not wise from stability and security point of view. What is even more strange, Assange is also using PayPal, US-based financial transaction proxy...

Some people asked me to explain what are the "elements" of the Internet presence, who are the "Actors" and how should WikiLeaks (or a similar service) avoid such problems in the future... Let's start from the beginning. It's a little bit complicated - it's not only about hosting (content) but also DNS (translating domain names into IP addresses), domain name Registries and domain name Registrars. Recent developments with Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, 82 domain seizures, refusal and EveryDNS case show that USG and politicians will do everything to remove illegal web pages with dangerous content from the web.

So here is the list of the key players you have to deal with and their connection with US-government:
Double Click for better quality.
Financial transaction providers
Regardless of the technical nature of DNS and Hosting, it's important for such an organization as WikiLeaks to be able to receive funds. PayPal is one of the most popular ways for fund-rising, not only for WikiLeaks. On December 4th, 2010 PayPal being US-registered company, decided to suspend of WikiLeaks' PayPal account.

PayPal has posted a statement to its website, saying: PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We have notified the account holder of this action.

The same story could be with other transaction providers like VISA or Diners Club, that's why old good wire transfers are the only solution for WikiLeaks and similar organizations.
update: On December 7th, 2010, VISA and MasterCard suspended transactions to WikiLeaks. The argument provided by VISA is very unusual and very unprofessional: "its investigation would determine the nature of Wikileaks' business, and "whether it contravenes Visa operating rules". WHETHER??? They don't know but suspend? As we can see, the suspension is "just in case" due to the fact that as of today, VISA do not know if it contravenes or not.

The last but not least is the choice of a bank. For such organization as WikiLeaks banks registered in US or with US investors are not an option... WikiLeaks decided to use Commerzbank and Swiss Post, especially the last one to guarantee rather uninterrupted service.
update: PostFinance said in statement "PostFinance has ended its business relationship with Julian Paul Assange".


  1. "This time France persuaded French company to stop hosting "espionage" content."
    That is not true. French Minister Besson sent out a letter asking CGIET for action. French ISP - OVH - replied he asked his lawyer for immediate query to Justice (sorry do not know the legal terms) to state the case, claiming neither the Minister, nor the ISP cannot decide what is legal. The French press summarised it as OVH 1 – Besson 0. OVH is a big company, they are registrar, host providers, and name servers providers. Quite a fantastic success of a Polish family of clever engineers who immigrated to France in 1990, Octave Klaba started Internet related business circa 10 years ago.
    The point is OVH is absolutely right, and the legal case is open.
    There is a number of French people (often small businesses) who added yesterday a “wikileaks.their-domain-name-whatever.TLD with well know Wikileaks IP addresses.

    Kind regards,

  2. Thanks Elisabeth.

    Just cited your comment in the text.