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25 April 2013, 14:46

Julian Assange plans to develop new crypto system

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that he has launched a new project. In an interviewGerman language link with French philosopher Alexandre Lacroix, excerpts of which have been published in the online version of the German newspaper Die Zeit, Assange said that he is working on a certificate-based crypto system that signs documents. Its publicly verifiable keys will ensure the authenticity of each document, explained Assange.

In the WikiLeaks founder's view, the internet is a system that is governed by external forces – by countries such as the US that continue to make whole collections of information disappear, and by Californian companies that sell information as a commodity. According to Assange, the internet is at immense risk of crumbling from one moment to the next. Assange says that his project must, therefore, shoulder a different task: "We must defend ourselves against the control and retention of knowledge."

Without providing any technical details during the interview, Assange seems to envision WikiLeaks as a kind of root authority that releases new keys, potentially using a custom crypto technique. The WikiLeaks founder said that current methods of verifying web information via https and keys that are anchored in the browser have failed and have been undermined by intelligence agencies. The around 60 companies that issue certificates are all corrupt, he added.

Assange didn't disclose any details about the staff, duration or financing of his new major project. Neither does the interview mention which algorithms will be used. Apparently, Assange is planning to use non-US technology because he thinks that, in the US, everything will be undermined by the CIA. The WikiLeaks founder regards US scientists with disdain: they are a disgrace to their country and too mentally bankrupt to assume moral leadership roles in movements such as Occupy, said Assange.

When asked about where he sees himself in ten years, Assange suggested a world that will view the WikiLeaks disclosures in a significantly more mellow light; a world that will acknowledge the role that WikiLeaks played in uncovering war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cablegate's role of heralding the Arab Spring, and the part that WikiLeaks played in the overthrowing of dictators such as Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi by questioning the legitimacy of their dictatorships. If the world tuns out differently, he will probably be locked up somewhere, added Assange.

The new project announcement comes at an opportune time. In an extended tweet on Wednesday, WikiLeaks announced that the Icelandic Supreme Court had ruled that the Icelandic Valitor financial service must allow DataCell, an Icelandic-Swiss internet service provider, to accept donations for WikiLeaks. The supreme court's decision confirms a ruling passed by a regional court last year. WikiLeaks said that Valitor must provide a donation facility within 15 days or risk penalties of about €5,000 a day. Other complaints raised by DataCell in Denmark and in the European Court of Justice have yet to be completed. Since December 2012, a special web site run by the Freedom of the Press Foundation has accepted donations for WikiLeaks.

(Detlef Borchers / fab)

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