May 5, 2011 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Documents and databases: They're key to modern journalism. But they're almost always hidden behind locked doors, especially when they detail wrongdoing such as fraud, abuse, pollution, insider trading, and other harms. That's why we need your help. The Wall Street Journal launches a "safe house" for whistleblowers. There's instant criticism, plus the question: will anybody use the site? (P.S. don't forget to read the Terms of Use).
posted by chavenet (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then they copy you.
posted by Trurl at 2:59 PM on May 5, 2011 [9 favorites]

posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh, you already did that joke, I'll see myself out...
posted by koeselitz at 3:11 PM on May 5, 2011

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then they copy you.

And a shitty copy at that. Whats the point of being a whistle blower if you can only upload documents that you are legally allowed to make public and distribute in the first place?

Its worse than useless.
posted by SirOmega at 3:17 PM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think Admiral Ackbar said it best.
posted by tommasz at 3:18 PM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

Yeah, if there's anybody we all know we can trust to help upset the status quo, the entrenched interests, the power brokers... it's the WSJ and Murdoch Media empire.
posted by weston at 3:28 PM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

So is anyone else apart from the WSJ actually able to see the files once they're uploaded? Or do they determine what does and does not constitute a good leak?
posted by Slackermagee at 3:50 PM on May 5, 2011

The WSJ parroted blatant government propaganda to start a war. They entirely ignored the warning signs of the economic collapse because they are incompetent and/or corrupt. They haven't done any courageous reporting that I can think of in the past few decades. I wouldn't trust them with gossip about Trump, let alone real information that could be damaging to any power interest. Hell, their primary client base is nothing but power interests.

Nice try, though. Please continue becoming irrelevant, you lying sacks of shit.
posted by notion at 3:51 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Um, I'm totally wrong. I have no idea why I confused NYT and WSJ.
posted by notion at 3:52 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think a tutorial in how to sneak stuff out of a network and keep your job could be more useful.
posted by Damienmce at 3:56 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Um, I'm totally wrong. I have no idea why I confused NYT and WSJ.

It's cool: your post is pretty much right on despite the error.
posted by lord_wolf at 4:04 PM on May 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Uh, Rupert Murdoch owns the Wall Steet Journal and so he owns that database.

If you "whistleblow" to it, you're just giving a heads up to the forces of reaction to allow them to preempt you or start a cover-up.

Sure, not all leaks to it will be treated that way, but if they're big enough or useful enough to Murdoch, a complaint employee somewhere in the chain -- reported, DBA, office worker -- will curry favor by tipping off a higher up who tip off his boss who will... until it gets to Rupert.

Don't be a stupid whistleblower; if you're going to do whistleblow, do it like Deepthroat.
posted by orthogonality at 4:17 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

What orthogonality said. At best, you'd just be giving corporate news free service.
posted by Xoebe at 4:34 PM on May 5, 2011

This smacks of a honeypot that will be used to punish would-be whisleblowers. The relevant sections of the terms of use, as pointed out on Hacker News:

WSJ Terms about Confidentiality:
3. Request Confidentiality: If you would like us to consider treating your submission as confidential before providing any materials, please make this request through this online submission form. Please note that until we mutually decide to enter into a confidential relationship, any information you send to us (including contact information) can be used for any purpose, as outlined in point 1 above, and described more fully below in the Limitations section). If we enter into a confidential relationship, Dow Jones will take all available measures to protect your identity while remaining in compliance with all applicable laws.
Wikileaks version:
2.3 Protection for you
Wikileaks does not record any source-identifying information and there are a number of mechanisms in place to protect even the most sensitive submitted documents from being sourced. We do not keep any logs. We can not comply with requests for information on sources because we simply do not have the information to begin with. Similarly we can not see your real identity in any anonymised chat sessions with us. Our only knowledge of you as a source is if you provide a coded name to us. A lot of careful thought by world experts in security technologies has gone into the design of these systems to provide the maximum protection to you. Wikileaks has never revealed a source.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:40 PM on May 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

There are already many leaks handled by the American corporate press. It's just that they're leaks that help a powerful person gain more power. Are full databases ever released for that sort of leak? Doubtful.

I'm sure the WSJ would already happily help you leak information that'll benefit your career once you're already a rising political star, especially if it'll help them scope the WaPo and NYT.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:51 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Am I the only one that sees this as an opportunity to play nutcase a la TIMECUBE guy? Go batty informing them of your favorite conspiracy theory?
posted by notashroom at 5:49 PM on May 5, 2011

It's a content farm. There's a market for those.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:03 PM on May 5, 2011

I actually laughed out loud at this one.
posted by Man Bites Dog at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2011

I, for one, look forward to the moment that 4chan discovers this method of leaking important documents to a responsible news outlet (e.g. uploading a filedump of goatse & the exponentially worse images that they've discovered since that was considered shocking.) Sorry in advance, WSJ interns.
posted by sysinfo at 7:22 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Notashroom: No, no you're not.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:34 PM on May 5, 2011

This site is nothing new, but then neither is Wikileaks. The ship of state is the only ship which leaks from the top and it always has done. Leaks have fueled journalism for a couple of hundred years and, more recently, the photocopier has been responsible for a lot more leaks than the internet ever has.
posted by joannemullen at 4:47 AM on May 6, 2011

This smacks of a honeypot that will be used to punish would-be whisleblowers.

My guess is that this is genuine incompetence rather than malice. The arrangement the Terms of Use describe seems to be more or less standard operating procedure for journalists dealing with sources: confidentiality is not automatic, it's something agreed between the journalist and the source (that's how I understand it anyway, although I'm not a journalist). Looks like their lawyers just translated this principle into law-talk and added a rich layer of boilerplate arse-covering for the benefit of the corporation. Quite possibly they were reporting to the same managers as the people who developed the thing, but never actually spoke to the developers directly.

I mean, the terms of use page has "VIEWING THE FULL TERMS MAY REQUIRE SCROLLING IN YOUR BROWSER" written in bold caps at the start. It goes on to say, among other things:
You agree that by accessing this site, you are bound by this Agreement ("Agreement")".
You agree not to use SafeHouse for any unlawful purpose. We reserve the right to restrict your use of SafeHouse if, in our opinion, your use may violate laws, regulations or rulings, infringe upon another person's rights, or violate the terms of this Agreement.
These are not people who understand, or care, what they are doing.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2011

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