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Consumer Information Web Site Shut Down

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 11:34 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Defective Drugs, Wrongful Death

Whisitleblower web site that has the potential to help consumers taken down by court order.

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Image a web site where scientists could anonymously blow the whistle and leak disturbing results on a new pharmaceutical drug just as it is being approved for the marketplace without fear of retaliation. 

Potentially thousands of lives could be saved if people had an early warning.

Those who follow technology might be familiar with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia where the public can contribute content that is then vetted by others for accuracy and fairness.

Following that model is Wikileaks.org - a site where internal documents can be found, sort of the “smoking gun” on corporations that would often rather keep things secret.

Wikileaks.org  promises to protect the identity of the leaker, providing them with anonymity, therefore presumably encouraging others to tell the truth and document it.

On February 15th, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco ordered the shutdown of Wikileaks after hundreds of pages of documents were posted that showed the alleged scheme that a Swiss banking group, Julius Baer (JB) used to hide assets, money laundering and tax evasion.

The documents were allegedly posted by the former vice president of the bank’s Cayman Island operation, so says JB.

The Caymans are a popular place to hide wealth and avoid regulatory authority by governments or financial institutions. 

In a press release, WiKileaks, a “transparency group” says it was forcibly censored and operator, Dynadot LLC was ordered to immediately disable Wikileaks.org until further order from the court.  The records of the site form must be removed from its servers and the order demands details of the site’s registrants, contacts and IP addresses of anyone who accessed the account be handed over.

The shutdown order was written by lawyers for Julius Baer and accepted by Judge Jeffrey White without “amendment, or representations by Wikileaks or amicus” the company says after lawyers for JB were unable to attack Wikileaks servers “which are based in several countries”. 

The documents could help the other side in a separate legal matter involving JB in a case in Switzerland its lawyers claimed.

The court backed off on disabling the entire Wikileaks domain, but at this writing it remains offline. A message says the server is overloaded.

When and if it appears back on expect all of the JB documents to be removed. The pages can still be found on servers hosted in other countries such as Belgium and India. 

Wiki lawyers have until February 20th to respond to the temporary restraining order. A hearing on whether the the site should be allowed to continue is scheduled for February 29 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. 

Wikileaks was censored in China last year but as they say “no one was too surprised” about censorship from a communist country which also censored the New York based Human Rights Watch.  

“Wikileaks never expected to be using the alternative servers to deal with censorship attacks, from, of all places, the United States” the company says in a press release.

Wikileaks previously exposed over $ four billion in money laundering by the former president of Kenya. That link is disabled today.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “Congress shall make no law.....abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” and Wikileaks says that the injunction was ex-parte (without their input) and unconstitutional.

In 2006 Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, citizens, journalists, technology folks and mathematicians from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.  It is not connected to Wikipedia.

It so far claims to have published more than 1.2 million documents. Wikileaks has six pro bono San Francisco attorneys working on the case. #

 


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