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Future Improvements - LeaksWiki

Future Improvements

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Overall, the current approaches for leak processing seem to work well for most small releases. For small releases, there are still ways leaking could be made easier so more people could setup and run leaking organizations. Organizations that seek to mobilize people in response to leaked material may also want to try new strategies for analysis. There has been some moderate success in mobilizing people in response to leaks but the situation could be far better. For large releases, new strategies for leak processing need to be developed. Big leaks face all the challenges of small leaks plus some. The best of the current approaches lead to long waits before release or release without redaction.


[edit] Automatic Metadata and Name Removal

A shocking number of organizations are still removing metadata by hand. This is not necessary. GlobaLeaks has discussed incorporating automated metadata removal into its framework. This is a very good idea and the metadata removal tools available should continue to be expanded. Ideally, there could be an option for sources to remove metadata through the submission system before sending the leaked information.

Metadata is not the only thing that can be automatically redacted. Names could be automatically removed. WikiLeaks is the only organization that might be using automated name redaction. While such a system would not be perfect and documents should also be checked by hand, an rudimentary automatic redaction system would be fairly simple to make. Redaction software could be improved by using machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to better deterimine what to redact. This would drastically reduce the workload of leak processing in large releases. Automatic redaction could also be incorporated into the submission system so particularly cautious sources could redact names before sending the documents.

[edit] Release Management System

A customizable release management system could be useful for any leaking organization. At its most basic level, a release management system could manage filtering and categorization of documents received via email or a submission system and automatic formatting and posting of documents. Even Cryptome could benefit slightly from such a system. Other organizations may want additional features. When Associated Whistleblowing Press described such a system, they said "it 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. Also, the ability to cluster files into pre-determined rules (by tags, keywords, field types, size, type of file etc)".[1] These features are all feasible to implement. Also, a system like the one WikiLeaks has for their media partners should be made publicly available. That would enable better crowd sourcing and media strategies. A release management system like this could be created by altering existing free and open source tools that provide some of the necessary functionality.

[edit] Guide to Verification

Both WikiLeaks and the Associated Whistleblowing Press mention verification strategies they use but say that providing more detail would compromise their ability to verify documents. This is a form of security through obscurity and only puts up barriers to people who wish to create leaking organizations. Someone, perhaps an anti-forgery expert, needs to compile a guide on how to verify the authenticity of documents. Additionally, free and open source electronic verification tools should be created and perhaps incorporated into the release management system.

[edit] Study Crowdsourcing Attempts and Failures

Crowdsourcing is an interesting approach to document analysis for large releases and a way to get people involved in the leaking process. Unfortunately, the current approaches have had minimal success. These failures need to be studied in more depth. Noveck provides some good suggestions for crowd-sourcing tasks like document analysis in "Wiki-Government" and these ideas should be more closely examined and tested within current systems. Additionally, an approach similar to AWP's local node system could be used to create more distributed leaking organizations. This may be more effective than traditional crowd sourcing practices. A distributed approach also reduces (but does not eliminate) the problem of leaking organizations as an extension of authority as power in the leaking organization is dispersed.

[edit] Graphical Analysis Tools

Graphical analysis tools like the one AWP provides for Cablegate could help with analysis or crowd sourced analysis as they help people understand the connections between documents. They could also be useful for document viewers who are trying to understand the content of the release.

Similarly, tools for placing documents in a narrative or identifying key points within documents could be added to a release management system to aid in the analysis process. Organizations like Public Intelligence who would like to provide summaries but limit their bias and let the viewers judge the document could use analysis tools to aid in objective summary construction. Other organizations that like to provide additional details could use such tools as a starting point in their analysis.

[edit] Test Release Method Effectiveness

How effective are leaks really? I have provided some assessment of their effectiveness but an in-depth study of leak reception and any actions triggered by releases should be conducted. Specifically, it would be interesting to see if sites following a minimal-processing strategy had more or less effective releases within the context of their goals than those who work with media partners and add additional information to the document. Is the outcome of the release actually that different?

[edit] Sources

  1. Associated Whistleblowing Press Interview
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