The story: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made his name exposing U.S. government secrets provided by whistleblowers, but despite his commitment to the free flow of information, he forces his own employees to sign a brutally strict confidentiality agreement. The document, obtained by the British magazine New Statesman, imposes a $20 million penalty on any staffer who leaks his secret-spilling website's unpublished material. The rationale: Anyone who does so without authorization owes WikiLeaks the millions it could have made selling the material to broadcasters and publishers.
The reaction: What astonishing hypocrisy, says David Allen Green at Britain's New Statesman. WikiLeaks exists to acquire information that doesn't belong to it, material that Assange then views as his "commercial 'property'" and protects with a "draconian" confidentiality agreement. Now, now — there's nothing draconian, or even unusual, about this nondisclosure agreement, says Kevin Gosztola at WL Central. Wikileaks is just "going to the nth degree to protect the 'sources' it fights to keep anonymous." No, this should shock anyone "who blindly idolized Assange and WikiLeaks simply because they took on governments and powerful people," says Andrew Belonsky at Death + Taxes. Assange is no knight in shining armor — he's just another guy out to make a buck.
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