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Associated Whistleblowing Press - LeaksWiki

Associated Whistleblowing Press

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AWP newswire (whistle.is) homepage

The Associated Whistleblowing Press(AWP) is a media agency founded in September 2012 that releases leaked information. AWP maintains its central node and newsroom (whistle.is) and it also works with local nodes like Ljost. They are experimenting with new leaking tools through projects like their crowdsourced analysis of WikiLeaks's Cablegate releases, cablegate.awp.is. Additionally, AWP runs a wiki, leaks.cc, to coordinate analysis of leaked information and documents.

Contents

[edit] Transparency Ideology

The Associated Whistleblowing Press focuses on releasing only restricted documents that either reveal a wrongdoing or are significant in their own right. All documents that meet these standards are released. AWP releases documents relevant on the local level with the hopes that the information will have a greater effect on local issues. While AWP would like to correct or highlight wrongdoings with their releases, their overall goal is to contribute to "an improved public control of institutions, accountability for their actions and so on".[1]

AWP defines leaking as "the activity to make secret information be publicly accessible" and describes whistleblowing as "an ethical leak".[1] They also suggest that leaking and whistleblowing have been converging as transparency and free information movements aim "to propagate and make public restricted information which is of public interest".[2] While AWP considers itself an organization focused on whistleblowing, they also hope to encourage a culture of transparency so more information of public interest is made available and corruption revealed.[1][2]

[edit] People and Groups Involved

The Associated Whistleblowing Press is unique in that they work with many local nodes to process documents. In certain cases, they may also work with outside experts for tasks such as checking for forgery of documents. Articles about leaked information or documents are also written by media partners and published on whistle.is, their centralized newsroom. AWP is experimenting with crowd sourcing platforms for document analysis so more people may be involved in the future.[1]

[edit] Leaking Process

[edit] Source Leaks Documents

The Associated Whistleblowing Press uses the GlobaLeaks framework for document submission. Each local node has a submission system on its website. Different levels of caution are outlined on a page that provides instruction to the source on how to safely submit documents. The standard method asks the source to use the Tor Browser to access their submission system. The safer and safest methods suggest sources encrypt files they are submitting with GPG and/or the TAILS operating system and to send documents only stored on a flash drive from a public Internet hotspot. They also suggest not telling anyone about the submission.[3] All of the tools they suggest sources use are free and open source.

[edit] Organization Receives Documents

While local Associated Whistleblowing Press nodes have submission systems on their websites, all information goes directly from submission to the central AWP servers in Iceland. AWP then shares the information with the relevant local node(s) for analysis.[1] All information is stored offline until the analysis and leak processing is complete.[4]

[edit] Leak Processing

Generally, AWP verifies a document first, and then does redaction during the analysis step. Some parts of the verification or analysis steps could take place after release.

[edit] Verification

The Associated Whistleblowing Press first reviews the leaked information to verify that it meets their publication standards. That is, the leaked document must "prove corruption and abuse" and not be a firsthand account or rumor.[1] More broadly, AWP also accepts any "restricted or censored material of political, scientific, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance".[4]

After checking that a leak meets their publication criteria, AWP has two pre-release steps in their verification of document authenticity process: conceptual and electronic cross-checking. Out of these two steps, conceptual cross-checking is generally more important. Conceptual cross-checking is conducted mostly by the local nodes who read a document and check for accuracy in "historical facts, actors and their behaviours." For electronic cross-checking, AWP works with forgery experts who use unspecified tools and techniques to verify the authenticity of photos, videos, and scanned documents. Automated tools for electronic cross-checking are still in progress.[1] The motives, cost, and difficulty of forgery are also considered throughout the process.[4]

After release, the organization the document or information comes from can verify its accuracy. This can be done both directly, through a request that the information be taken down, and indirectly, when an organization says some of their classified or restricted documents were released. If information is verified post-release through one of these methods, AWP notes this on the document release page. While not all documents are verified externally, all pass the internal conceptual and electronic cross checking tests.[1]

[edit] Redaction

The Associated Whistleblowing Press engages in two types of redaction: removal of metadata and removal of names. AWP removes metadata in documents because some metadata can indicate who the source is or provide information that would make the source's identity easier to determine.[4] They do not disclose the methods and tools they use to remove metadata as it would make documents easier to forge but AWP did say that most of the metadata cleaning was done manually. AWP removes names of any third parties not involved in the wrongdoing at hand. They do not note any other cases where information is removed from the documents they publish.[1]

[edit] Analysis/Formatting

The Associated Whistleblowing Press has two steps in their document analysis process, an initial classification and tracking read-through and the writing of news articles that analyze the documents to put them in context. The classification and tracking read-through step is mostly important for long documents or sets of documents. Documents are read through and relevant information is noted and tracked. They are still working on a system for tracking documents. Ideally, this system "should cover all the types of fields, be searchable through these fields, have commenting features and selection of different 'status modes' for each single file" and it should also have "the ability to cluster files into pre-determined rules (by tags, keywords, field types, size, type of file etc)."[1]

In the second part of the analysis step, journalists write articles about the documents. These articles put the documents into their broader context by "explaining actors, motives and consequences in relation to the organizations or states in question."[4]

Graph tool for Cablegate analysis

AWP is currently experimenting with a crowdsourcing platform, cablegate.awp.is, where people can write notes and stories about WikiLeaks cables. They also have a graph tool that shows shared references and links between cables to aid in the analysis process. If their trial with WikiLeaks Cablegate documents goes well, this could be an alternative or supplement to the second step of the AWP analysis process in the future.[5][1]

[edit] Release

The Associated Whistleblowing Press releases all the documents from the local nodes and the articles about them from the analysis step on the AWP newswire, whistle.is.[6] These or other articles may also be published elsewhere by media partners, perhaps in the local media.[1]

[edit] Post-Release Actions

Local AWP nodes may engage in advocacy efforts or additional publicity in both traditional and non-traditional media after leaked information is released. Although the exact method is not yet clear, AWP hopes to incite "a collective response to any issues".[1]

[edit] Effectiveness and Outcome

It too early to judge the effectiveness of AWP because it is very new, only has one running node, and has not published any documents of its own yet.[1] Despite this, AWP has published articles based on documents leaked by other organizations.[7] Additionally, a few days after release their collective Cablegate analysis tool has almost 200 cables tagged.[8] So far their platforms, processes, and tools seem to be working well with these tests.

[edit] Sources

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Associated Whistleblowing Press Interview
  2. 2.0 2.1 #Hackers, #torrents and #whistleblowers: A new culture of transparency
  3. Ljost Submission Page
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Associated Whistleblowing Press
  5. Crowdsourced Cablegate Analysis Platform
  6. whistle.is About
  7. whistle.is
  8. cablegate.awp.is
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