WikiLeaks under attack: the definitive timeline
Since WikiLeaks released the US embassy cables on 28 November 2009 it has come under pressure on several fronts, from DDoS attacks to frozen bank accounts. We list the companies, politicians and organisations making life difficult for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange
WikiLeaks’ home page showing an image of Julian Assange after the move to a Swiss host. Photograph: Valentin Flauraud/REUTERSOn Sunday 28 November WikiLeaks began releasing the first of its 250,000 leaked US embassy cables. Almost immediately, a hacking attack known as a “DDOS” – distributed denial of service – attack tried to knock it off the net. These are the attacks that have followed in the succeeding days.
Sunday 28 November 2010
• TECH: DDoS attack hits WikiLeaks as first set of US diplomatic cables is published.
Wednesday 1 December 2010
• TECH: Tableau Software, which offers free software for data visualisation, removes the public views of graphics built using information about the diplomatic cables. It is the first company to distance itself from WikiLeaks, and admits that the reason was pressure from Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent senator with ties to the Democratic party.
• POLITICS: Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security, calls for WikiLeaks to be taken offline. “I call on any other company or organization that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. WikiLeaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials.”
• TECH Amazon removes WikiLeaks’s content from its EC2 cloud service, but later insists it did so because the content could cause harm to people and did not belong to WikiLeaks – and that it was not due to political pressure or the hacker attacks against the site.
Friday 3 December 2010
• TECH: WikiLeaks.org ceases to work for web users after everyDNS.com, which had provided a free routing service translating the human-readable address into a machine-readable form, ends support.
WikiLeaks shifts to a backup domain registered in Switzerland but actually hosted in Sweden, at WikiLeaks.ch, though the cables are hosted in part by OVH, an internet provider in the north of France.
EveryDNS claims that the DDOS attacks against WikiLeaks were disrupting its service provided to thousands of other customers. The company says it is “following established policies so as not to put any one EveryDNS.net user’s interests ahead of any others. Lastly, regardless of what people say about the actions of EveryDNS.net, we know this much is true – we believe in our New Hampshire state motto, Live Free or Die.”
• POLITICS: French industry minister Eric Besson writes to internet companies warning them there will be “consequences” for any companies or organisations helping to keep WikiLeaks online in the country.
Saturday 4 December 2010
• MONEY: PayPal, owned by US auction site eBay, permanently restricts account used by WikiLeaks due to a “violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy”. A spokesman said the account was suspended because “[it] cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.”
You can still donate at Commerzbank Kassel in Germany or Landsbanki in Iceland or by post to a post office box at the University of Melbourne or at http://wikileaks.ch/support.html
• TECH: Switch, the Swiss registrar for WikiLeaks.ch declines pressure from US and French authorities to remove the site or block access to it.
Sunday 5 December 2010
• TECH: The Pirate Party in Sweden says that it has taken over the hosting of the Cablegate directory of WikiLeaks after the server in France at OVH, which had been hosting the contents of the US diplomatic cables released so far, goes offline.
Monday 6 December 2010
• MONEY: Credit card company Mastercard withdraws ability to make donations to WikiLeaks. “MasterCard is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products,” the credit card outfit says.
• TECH: WikiLeaks’ servers in Sweden attacked by distributed denial of service attack.
• MONEY: Postfinance, the Swiss postal system, strips WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of a key fundraising tool, accusing him of lying and immediately shutting down one of his bank accounts. The bank says that Assange had “provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.”
Assange had told Postfinance he lived in Geneva but could offer no proof that he was a Swiss resident, a requirement of opening such an account. Postfinance spokesman Alex Josty told The Associated Press the account was closed Monday afternoon and there would be “no criminal consequences” for misleading authorities. “That’s his money, he will get his money back,” Josty said. “We just close the account and that’s it.”
Tuesday 7 December 2010
• MONEY: Credit card company Visa withdraws ability to make donations or payments to WikiLeaks. “Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks’ website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules,” said a spokesman.
Wednesday 8 December 2010
• MONEY Speaking at the LeWeb conference Osama Bedier, vice-president of platform, mobile and new ventures for PayPal says that “What happened is that on November 27th [the day before WikiLeaks began releasing cables] the State Department, the US government basically, wrote a letter saying that the WikiLeaks activities were deemed illegal in the United States. And so our policy group had to take a decision to suspend the account… It was straightforward from our point of view.”
Wednesday 15 December 2010
• TECH: The US air force blocks employees from accessing the websites of the Guardian, the New York Times and other news organisations carrying the WikiLeaks US embassy cables. At least 25 sites that have posted WikiLeaks files are barred. The Wall Street Journal reports that staff who attempt to access the blocked sites instead see the on-screen message “Access denied. Internet usage is logged and monitored.”
Tuesday 21 December 2010
• TECH: Apple removes an unofficial WikiLeaks app from sale in the iTunes App Store just five days after it went live. WikiLeaks App launched on 17 December – meaning Apple would have approved it – offering access to the site’s leaked documents and the latest updates from the official WikiLeaks Twitter account. It automatically forwards to mirrored WikiLeaks content and gives full access to CableGate information.
Saturday January 8 2011
• LEGAL: It emerges that the US justice department has obtained a court subpoena demanding that Twitter hand over all details of the accounts and private messages of five WikiLeaks supporters and members. They include the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange; Bradley Manning, the alleged army leaker; the Icelandic MP Brigitta Jonsdottir; and the Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp. The writ, approved by a court in Virginia in December, covers information including the computers and networks used by the group to communicate.
Note: an earlier version of this article wrongly referred to easyDNS.com as having provided DNS routing for WikiLeaks. This was wrong, and the company was not involved at that time – although easyDNS.com is now providing routing for WikiLeaks.ch.