WikiLeaks has released a trove of encrypted “insurance” data on Twitter and Facebook. The data can’t be read without an encryption key, but the movement’s supporters say that could be published later in case anything happens to leading WikiLeaks figures.
The whistleblowing organization published links for a massive 400 gigabytes worth of encrypted data it described as “insurance documents” on its Twitter and Facebook accounts. It is possible to download the files but advanced encoding prevents them from being opened.
WikiLeaks releases encrypted versions of upcoming publication data ("insurance") from time to time to nullify attempts at prior restraint.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 17, 2013
The group described encryption as a necessary measure in light of
previous attempts to block its leaking of classified information.
The practice of encoding data and then later releasing the key is
not uncommon for WikiLeaks, but the sheer size of the files has
attracted considerable attention. WikiLeaks followers on Facebook
and Twitter speculated on what the documents might contain, and
also that the key would be released if anything should happen to
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or NSA whistleblower Edward
“They're files that will not have the passwords released
unless something happens to specific individuals associated with
WikiLeaks. Like the insurance file for Assange, which is more
from the cables and info Manning leaked out,” Facebook user
Tom-Eric Halvorsen wrote on WikiLeaks’ profile page.
The organization aided Snowden in his negotiations on temporary
asylum in Russia following the leaking of classified US
government data that revealed the NSA’s global surveillance
programs. WikiLeaks has indicated that the data disclosed so far
is only the tip of the iceberg, and that more revelations will
However, there could be problems ahead for Snowden if more leaks
are released, as the Russian government says that as a part of
the temporary asylum agreement, Snowden should refrain from
releasing data that “damages” the US. The whistleblower applied
for asylum in Russia after the US voided his passport, leaving
him stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for over a month.
Washington has branded the former NSA contractor a fugitive and
issued an extradition order against him on charges of espionage.
In the wake of the revelations about the US government’s global
spying programs, the Obama administration has sought to justify
mass surveillance as a necessary evil to protect national
security. Even so, President Barack Obama has announced a number
of reforms to the NSA to increase its transparency and regulate
the information collected by the government.