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OpenLeaks: the Wikileaks of 2011? (VIDEO)

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OpenLeaks
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OpenLeaks logo
OpenLeaks

As the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks made headlines last year for revealing the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy, as well as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, so too did its founder, Julian Assange.

Along the way, the silver-haired Australian's public presence and apparently abrasive style drove some of his workers and fellow anti-secrecy idealists away, and several of them have gathered to continue to promote their ideals on a new website, OpenLeaks.

In an interview with CBS News correspondent Shira Lazar, OpenLeaks co-founder Herbert Snorrason said OpenLeaks is much more than just a visible disagreement with Assange's way of doing things. They will not only provide a "technical infrastructure" for leaking materials anonymously that protects all parties involved, but the site will represent a growing online effort proclaiming to fight the corrupt, powerful entities of the world by spilling their secrets.

"What needs to be understood is that what's going is a movement that is considerably larger than what you see on the surface," Snorasson said. "I'm in this because I want information to be generally available. Governments, corporations don't have an unlimited right to secrecy."

OpenLeaks will be used to support that movement in a very simple but direct way, Snorasson said. Instead of receiving, editing and carefully distributing leaked documents like WikiLeaks, the new website will just directly link leakers with media, non-profit groups or other organizations that might help or use the material.

Snorasson claims OpenLeaks will simply provide a "technical infrastructure" so that OpenLeaks and the document's recipients can never know who the original leakers are, thus negating much of their legal liability.

"Most digital documents provide meta data. Microsoft Word for instance embeds information on the author and the organization of the author in pretty much every document it produces. We aim to strip that information out of the files before the media or the recipient has a look at it. This can be done more or less automatically. We are a mere conduit," Snorasson said.

There are about a dozen people working with Snorasson, although he said only he and co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg will for now be named because "being publicly associated with a project of this sort can endanger people's chances of having work."

Snorasson claims their website will not compete with WikiLeaks, and Assange himself agreed in an interview with Forbes magazine last Deecember.

"The supply of leaks is very large," said Assange when discussing OpenLeaks. "It's helpful for us to have more people in this industry. It's protective to us."

However, Snorasson and Domscheit-Berg's split from WikiLeaks will lead to a very different way of doing business.

"I personally left WikiLeaks after Julian said to me, 'I am the heart and soul of this organization and if you have a problem with me you can piss off.' I do not want to have any sort of person who believes themselves entitled to say something like that," Snorasson said. "WikiLeaks has a centralized spot where it takes on an awful lot of work, an awful lot of responsibility and an awful lot of power. Our aim is to disperse all of those."

OpenLeaks is still debating where and how to provide redactions in documents, and may only do so if there is "risk of serious assault or death to specific individuals," Snorasson said.

In general, the goal of OpenLeaks is not to bring down America - as some have claimed Assange wants to do - but it is rather make the world a place where the "ability (of government and corporations) to keep secrets will be severely constrained."


  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.