In an alliance so obvious that it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner, secrecy-busting organization WikiLeaks has gotten an offer of help from Sweden’s Pirate Party. The political party, which is recognized in Sweden but has a relatively small base of popular support, says it has reached an agreement with WikiLeaks to provide server space to host files collected by the group. WikiLeaks specializes in publicizing documents that corporations and governments are trying to keep secret, such as the 90,000 U.S. military files it recently released to the New York Times and several other news outlets, and the classified video of a military attack that was leaked earlier this year.
The Pirate Party was formed in 2006 as part of a movement to fight what supporters saw as restrictive copyright legislation and other restrictions on freedom of information, and subsequently won 0.63 percent of the popular vote — not enough to give it standing in the country’s parliament, but enough to make it at one point the third-largest political party in Sweden in terms of membership. The party also won more than 7 percent of the Swedish votes in last year’s European Union elections, which gave it the right to nominate two representatives to the European Parliament.
In addition to the Pirate Party, WikiLeaks has also been working with the Icelandic government to create an “information refuge” that would protect whistle-blowers and others who leak secret documents, including the journalists who receive them. The country’s parliament recently passed a bill — which received unanimous support — that is designed to enshrine this protection in legislation. The partnership between WikiLeaks and Iceland began last year, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange visited the country, and the legislation was designed in part based on proposals from the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.
A number of media theorists, including New York University professor Jay Rosen — who described WikiLeaks as “the world’s first stateless news organization” after the most recent military document leaks –have said that WikiLeaks could alter the balance of power between the traditional news media and governments and corporations who want to maintain control over information about themselves. The Nieman Journalism Lab described the partnership between WikiLeaks and the traditonal news outlets who published parts of the 90,000 military documents (a group that included the New York Times and The Guardian) as an example of “the new ecosystem of news diffusion.”
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