On the run, WikiLeaks finds refuge with Swiss provider

Scrambling to flee those who would shut it down, whistle-blower site WikiLeaks has moved its domain to a Switzerland-based domain name host.

New Hampshire-based EveryDNS.net (which should be renamed Almost EveryDNS.net) shut down its domain hosting for Wikileaks after it came under a massive cyber attack that also threatened to take down its 500,000 other web sites. That forced WikiLeaks to find a new host, the Swiss Pirate Party, and rename its web site WikiLeaks.ch, as WikiLeaks.org no longer works. A day earlier, Amazon booted WikiLeaks from its web hosting service because of concerns about how WikiLeaks displays “stolen content.”

WikiLeaks has had quite a year. First, it unveiled thousands of classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now it has released 251,000 diplomatic cables from U.S. diplomats around the world. The latest breach has brought a lot of political heat on WikiLeaks as well as a police hunt for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted on a rape charge in Sweden, a charge he claims is no more than an attempt to damage his credibility.

As we noted before, it will be interesting to watch if this organization can flee the governments and hackers who are pursuing it, particularly if it has to continue to maintain a public web site in order to share its leaked documents. To operate a web site, WikiLeaks needs a domain name system (DNS) host so that the internet can direct a user to a web site when the user types in the site’s name. It also needs a web host to store its site and to serve pages as users request them.

The Swiss Pirate Part is WikiLeaks’ new DNS provider. The entity is a political group formed two years ago to campaign for freedom of information and better tech policy. The move shows that, despite all of the controversy, WikiLeaks still has friends who can help it hide from the authorities and survive efforts to shut it down. It’s not clear if WikiLeaks.ch will work in the face of more cyber attacks, as the site isn’t up at the moment. Web hosting has now moved from Amazon to Sweden’s Bahnhof.

WikiLeaks’ next moves may be to publish secret documents from corporations such as BP and Bank of America.

Assange is reportedly hiding in Britain. The New York Times has said he lives on the run, dyes his hair, and  checks into hotels under false names. Government officials in France have made moves to ban WikiLeaks from using servers in France to host its site. The whole episode seems like a George Orwell story. Where will it lead?

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