Wikileaks ordered to shut down

February 29, 2008 12:31:26 AM PST
A free-speech battle is growing over a very popular whistleblower website shut-down by a federal judge in San Francisco. On Friday, civil liberties groups are back in court trying to get back on line.

When a judge ordered the whistleblower site, to shut down, the American Civil Liberties Union says it had no choice but to intervene.

"This is a very unusual case where an entire domain name has been shut down, just because a few documents are in dispute," said Ann Brick from the ACLU.

On Friday, the ACLU, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Associated Press will appear at the federal courthouse in San Francisco, challenging the shut down. A judge made the order last week after Wikileaks refused to delete classified documents associated with a Swiss bank.

"The First Amendment protects not just the right to speak, but the right of the public to have access to information, including all the information that's been locked up on the domain name, that has nothing to do with the dispute with the bank," said Brick.

Wikileaks claims its site was launched by Chinese dissidents and other activists who encourage the posting of leaked documents.

The site says so far, it has posted over a million documents, many of which show unethical behavior of governments and corporations.

Even so, Wikileaks has sparked concern among some prominent players of Web 2.0.

"Do they bother to control for the authenticity?" said Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has no affiliation with Wikileaks.

He says despite the fact that the judge may very well have gone too far in shutting down Wikileaks, there are still valid questions that need to be answered.

"In a normal wiki, like Wikipedia, we have very firm rules about sourcing. In a case of Wikileaks where people are encouraged to post documents of some kind, it seems really easy for them to be hoaxed, for them to be frauds," said Wales.

While First Amendment and media groups plan to appear in court tomorrow, there is still no word on whether anyone from Wikileaks will show up. So far, representatives of the site have yet to respond to court orders.