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WSJ and Al-Jazeera Lure Whistleblowers With False Promises of Anonymity

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Electronic Frontier Foundation   June 7, 2011

Legal Analysis by Hanni Fakhoury

 

The success of Wikileaks in obtaining and releasing information has inspired mainstream media outlets to develop proprietary copycat sites. Al-Jazeera got into the act first, launching the Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit (AJTU), an initiative meant to “allow Al-Jazeera’s supporters to shine light on notable and noteworthy government and corporate activities which might otherwise go unreported.” AJTU assures users that “files will be uploaded and stored on our secure servers” and that materials “are encrypted while they are transmitted to us, and they remain encrypted on our servers.”

On May 5, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., Inc., launched its own site, SafeHouse. That same day, the Atlantic published a story describing SafeHouse as a “secure uploading system” with “separate servers,” two layers of encryption, and a policy of discarding information about uploaders “as quickly as possible.” You can “keep yourself anonymous or confidential, as needed,” the SafeHouse site promises, as you “securely share documents with the Wall Street Journal.”

Immediately after its launch, however, online security experts ripped SafeHouse apart. The Atlantic published its story online at noon on May 5 and by 5 p.m., the page was updated with a link directing readers to the Twitter feed of Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and Wikileaks volunteer, who had already exposed an embarrassing number of security problems with SafeHouse.

EFF’s review of the legal side of these websites doesn’t fare any better. While some of the more egregious technical problems with SafeHouse have been fixed since its launch, its terms of use haven’t changed. We read through the Terms of Service for both SafeHouse and AJTU (pdf). Don’t fall for the false promises of anonymity offered by these sites. Here’s what you should know.

They Reserve the Right to Sell You Out

Despite promising anonymity, security and confidentiality, AJTU can “share personally identifiable information in response to a law enforcement agency’s request, or where we believe it is necessary.” SafeHouse’s terms of service reserve the right “to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities” without notice, then goes even further, reserving the right to disclose information to any “requesting third party,” not only to comply with the law but also to “protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies” or to “safeguard the interests of others.” As one commentator put it bluntly, this is “insanely broad.” Neither SafeHouse or AJTU bother telling users how they determine when they’ll disclose information, or who’s in charge of the decision.

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Video: Israel owns the USA – Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

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Ron Paul on Obama the Corporatist

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The textbook definition of fascism is the Corporate State.

Text:

Obama is a Corporatist

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Written by laudyms

April 26, 2010 at 9:34 am

How Private Health Insurers Purchased Healthcare Reform

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“they all must go!”

Billy Wharton / March 31st, 2010   DissidentVoice.org

In a moment of frank political revelation, Firedoglake reports that Senator Max Bacchus has confirmed that former WellPoint Vice President Liz Fowler wrote substantial portions of the recently approved Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Left-wing opponents of the bill had already claimed that private insurers exercised significant influence on the proceedings in the House and Senate. Bacchus’ revelation takes these claims to a new level as they prove that the private health insurance lobby literally wrote the bill that is being passed off as a “reform” of the healthcare system.

Bacchus cited the contributions made by Liz Fowler during floor proceedings in the Senate. “Liz Fowler worked for me many years ago,” he proudly stated from the microphone, “left for the private sector, and then came back when she realized she could be there at the creation of health care reform because she wanted that to be, in a certain sense, her profession lifetime goal.” Fowler went on to author the influential White Paper that formed the basis for the eventual legislation.

WellPoint is a notorious private insurer. In 2007, it was revealed that the company operated an extensive department entirely dedicated to carrying out procedure denials and insurance cancellations. In 2009, WellPoint’s affiliate, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, sued the state of Maine in an attempt to force the state to guarantee that the company would receive at least a 3% annual return from selling insurance policies in the state. Not surprisingly, the company has also been a campaign contributor to Bacchus’ senatorial runs.

Liz Fowler’s pro-corporate credentials run far deeper than WellPoint. She began her career as an attorney at Hogan & Hartson, a massive corporate law and lobbying firm. The firm is an active campaign contributor, including, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions of $2,000 to Bacchus’ campaigns in 2002 and 2006. There are currently 60 Hogan & Hartson lobbyists working in Washington representing hundreds of corporations, including dozens of health insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

All of this explains why the Senate Finance Committee was converted into the healthcare sinkhole. Senators on the committee received an inordinately high amount of campaign contributions from the health insurance industry, $8 million from PAC’s and $6 million from individuals, in 2010 to insure its loyalty. Liberal proposals for a “public-option” went down in flames here and when single-payer activists attempted to participate in the debate on the bill, Bacchus joked that “we may need more police.” The police arrived promptly and removed anyone who dared to speak against a process clearly designed to screw them.

This is how politics works for the Democrats and Republicans. The door between private industry and public policy has swung wide open. Corporate money rules politics. Bacchus apparently feels confident that the American public has sunk to a level of stupidity so low that he can pass off Fowler’s pro-corporate role as some sort of public service. Shameful.

Fowler and Bacchus are just one manifestation of a larger corrupt political process that has slipped so far out of the hands of everyday Americans that there is no going back. A slogan developed during the most recent financial crisis in Argentina might best capture what needs to happen going forward “they all must go.”