Wikileaks, the infamous government document leak service, is now charging for access to some of its files. After the United States championed a global payment system embargo against the site, Wikileaks has been desperate to pay the increasing costs of its Founder Julian Assange’s legal fees and the site’s own computing infrastructure. Selling tote-bags and t-shirts failed to raise enough money, so Wikileaks has resorted to a paywall, where users must either donate money to access files or share a video through social media, reports Wired. The move has invoked the public ire of powerful hacker group, Anonymous, which once attacked down the very financial services boycotting Wikileaks.
“The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what Wikileaks has become – the One Man Julian Assange show. But we also want to make clear that we still support the original idea behind Wikileaks: Freedom of information and transparent governments. Sadly we realize that Wikileaks does not stand for this idea anymore,” said a message posted by the group on online text-sharing website, Pastebin.
Founder Julian Assange is currently walled up in Ecuador’s UK embassy, as governments around the world attempt to legally penetrate the asylum protections granted by the bullish south American country.
Should Wikileaks fail to stay up, it is unclear what would emerge as the go-to place for leaked documents. Wikileaks is widely believed to have played an important role in the Arab Spring, after it released documents exposing Tunisia’s corrupt government. Other media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, have attempted their own leaked documents services–without much success.
While Wikileaks has battled with governments and its partners, such as The New York Times, it has also taken steps to obscure information potentially harmful to intelligence officials (though, whether it has done an adequate job is up for debate).
With Wikileaks losing money as well as its online friends, the chaotic world of radical government transparency hangs on its continued existence.