The hacktivist collective Anonymous will reportedly launch TYLER – a 'secure, no cost and decentralized' online leaks release platform to circumvent problems inherent in WikiLeaks - on the day many (and Mayans) believe to be the end of the world.
One of the group’s members, who specified that he is representing the collective, spoke about the TYLER project and the rift with WikiLeaks in an email interview with the Voice of Russia.
According to unnamed hacker, the conflict between Anonymous and Julian Assange’s whistleblowing site revolves around the coercive fund raising techniques and a lack of transparency regarding WikiLeaks finances.
Previously, Anonymous has been a longtime advocate of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, vocally supporting the website’s mission of sharing secret data, news leaks, and classified information with the public.
However, information recently posted by Anonymous on AnonPaste.me says WikiLeaks "has chosen to dishonor and insult Anonymous and all information activists" by requiring payment to view documents it previously made available for free.
But Anonymous is not a structured group with a defined leader – and the identity of the people behind the posts slamming WikiLeaks for asking for donations and various Twitter usernames remains unclear. The uncertainty has left many wondering whether these opinions represent the group as a whole, or just a few scattered members.
The hacktivists, claims the person who spoke to the Voice of Russia, see it as an ethical violation – and have responded by saying they may reveal information about WikiLeaks itself.
“What we would like to see released – either legitimately or leaked to Anonymous by a WikiLeaks insider – is the WikiLeaks financial records. We do not possess these, but should they be delivered to us we would certainly disclose them. An organization that preaches transparency to the world should provide it for themselves”, the Anonymous member said.
The annoyance that Anonymous members seem to be experiencing is likely due to the fact that they take credit for some of WikiLeaks’ major data publications.
Anonymous and other hacktivists claim they provided WikiLeaks with the more than 2 million emails released as part of the Syria files. They also apparently worked together to leak the Stratfor files – millions of emails from a Texas-based global intelligence company.
When asked about the future of WikiLeaks, the anonymous hacker said “Julian has threatened on at least one previous occasion to pull the plug on the project because the fundraising was not meeting his expectations. It was at that time that Anonymous began planning to field our own alternative disclosure platforms. Julian desperately needs WikiLeaks, and he is the only one that can pull the plug on the project. I rather think that so long as he is in dire straits, he will not do so – despite any threats from him to the contrary.”
WikiLeaks admits the paywall’s presence is less than ideal, but says it is financially necessary.
“WikiLeaks faces unprecedented costs due to involvement in over 12 concurrent legal matters around the world, including our litigation of the US military in the Bradley Manning case. Our FBI file as of the start of the year had grown to 42,135 pages,” a written response from the website said.
But at least some Anonymous members see the paywall as nothing more than a fundraising tool for Julian Assange, leading members to speak out.
A statement on pastebin.com said that Anonymous cannot support the “One Man Julian Assange show,” adding that while the group continues to support the original idea behind WikiLeaks, the website doesn’t seem to stand for that idea anymore.
The questions of who was behind that statement, how many of the collective's members support it and can a pastebin.com post really represent the entire "legion" remain unanswered. But it would appear that the group is now choosing to focus on the future, and their TYLER project.
The serious VoR interview was lightened by some tongue-in-cheek comments about the future features of TYLER, with the Anonymous member saying he could reveal a lot about the project, but isn’t going to – and confirming the release date was chosen because it coincided with the Mayan calendar’s “end of the world.”
But the project has been in the works for months, and is clearly important to the group. Anonymous believes it to be unique as a disclosure platform, because “It will not be deployed on a static server. TYLER will be P2P encrypted software, in which every function of a disclosure platform will be handled and shared by everyone who downloads and deploys the software. In theory, this makes it sort of like BitCoin or other P2P platforms in that there is virtually no way to attack it or shut it down. It would also obviously be thoroughly decentralized.”