[Noisebridge-discuss] Should NB mirror WikiLeaks?

Sai sai at saizai.com
Tue Dec 7 11:32:45 PST 2010

On Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 1:03 PM, Shannon Lee <shannon at scatter.com> wrote:
> First, due to Wikileaks' nature, I believe that in this case, adding a
> Wikileaks mirror cannot be seen as anything but a political statement -- a
> vote in favor of WIkileaks, essentially.

Wikileaks is not a political party in the United States and is not a
party to any contest for elected office. Like the IRS site clearly
states, only *partisan* political speech is relevant—and only (TTBOMK)
when it has to do with US politics.

*Anything* can be interpreted as merely *political* speech - for
instance, saying that people should have freedom of speech *is
political speech*, and advocating for it (as NB implicitly does
through things like 5MoF) is especially so. But it's not *partisan*
speech; it's not saying which party or politican ought to be elected.

If you still disagree with me, please either
a) explain why mirroring wikileaks might be partisan speech, or
b) cite how the IRS prohibits non-partisan political speech.

> Second, this is a charged enough environment that this sort of regulation is
> likely to be interpreted extremely loosely.

Agreed. But I don't think that even a very loose interpretation of
"partisan" covers this. Please explain how it does, if you think so.

> Third, we can't afford to fight even an egregiously wrong decision on this.

That's a completely fair point. I would point out, though, that we
could decide to take it down immediately if someone takes official
action or files suit. Do you think that even doing that would open NB
up to too much liability?

> Again, I think that putting up a Wikileaks mirror is an awesome thing to do,
> and many Noisebridgers have, but I don't thing Noisebridge should do so.

I think it deserves full discussion at least. I completely respect
your belief that it'd endanger Noisebridge to do so—though I think
it'd be a better argument if you rebut the two questions about
partisanship being key, or if you think of a reason not to do it other
than IRS political involvement regulations. (IMO that's a very weak

For instance, we should consider whether mirroring it would be a
violation of copyright, espionage, DMCA, libel, etc. laws; whether
it'd open up NB to possible retaliation (e.g. by PayPal, Visa,
Mastercard) or investigation; etc. Anything that happened to them
could happen to a mirror. See

I would point out that since Jake has been both an official
spokesperson for WikiLeaks (and investigated / detained / searched for
that involvement), and a founder of Noisebridge, doing so would
probably get extra scrutiny.

In particular, scrutiny would likely directed at him and Mitch
personally as figureheads. Cf. that Assange has been arrested in UK on
charges unrelated to Wikileaks:

IMHO even with all that it would still be worth doing, and we could
just operate reactively by coöperating with any requests the EFF
doesn't think we could easily brush off… but those are serious issues
that warrant discussion.

Also: https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/MemoryHole

Wikileaks deserves support, is in serious need of it, and is an
excellent example of a hacker culture version of journalism that, by
being exactly that, has created tremendous positive impact worldwide.
Belief in freedom of information—especially information of the sort
they publish—is pretty core to hacker ethic, IMO.

So IMO the only question is whether that ethical support has to be put
aside because it's too legally or technically risky.

Perhaps EFF legal input would be helpful.

- Sai

PS This may be a good time to remind everyone that our listhost has a
bug that causes anything on or after a line starting with "From" to
not get publicly archived. (It'll still be in everyone's mailbox of

More information about the Noisebridge-discuss mailing list