One important thing about Wikileaks is its technological sophistication. Julian Assange, the founder and editor, has said his group uses “state-of-the-art encryption to bounce stuff around the internet to hide trails”.
Wikileaks spreads throughout the world, spanning multiple jurisdictions and operates through countries which offer a high level of legal protection to people that leak information. To the US government it is a formidable enemy.
I blogged earlier about the new division of the US military, the US Cyber Command (USCC). It aims to protect US national security by improving the nations cyber-warfare arsenal. Could one of its prime targets be Wikileaks? They would be justified – as one reporter at the Washington Post has written:
‘Assange is a non-U.S. person operating outside the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement, but also intelligence and military assets, to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.’
Of course, bringing down a website like Wikileaks is probably outside the current ability of the US. I reason that they could attack the site and bring it down, but it would appear somewhere else in no time at all.
Even if they could successfully bring down all of the mirror sites – the files would all be distibuted through torrents and posted all over the web.
As the social web of user generated content grows, the US government will further lose its control over the media. As a result the normal route of deploying propaganda against Wikileaks figurehead Julian Assange (like the recent attempt to label him a racist) will become increasingly ineffective.
What needs to be tackled is the entire infrastructure of Wikileaks – and this is precisely what the USCC is designed to do. Charged with carrying out “full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains”, the USCC is designed to totally eradicate infrastructure.
The question now is to what possible extremes could military interference with the internet have on the our new digital world?