By Sophia Kirschenman

Leaking sensitive information about a government or corporation can lead to severe consequences and even death in some parts of the world.

But a new website proposes to eliminate that threat by making the disclosure of secret information safe and effective. Instead of making late night phone calls to reporters, the future ‘deep throats’ of the world may be posting sensitive details online. is a website that believes it can expose some of the secrecy inherent in oppressive regimes and corrupt corporations. The site is a place where people can anonymously release information to public scrutiny.

According to the website, "Wikileaks will be a forum for the ethical defection of unaccountable and abusive power to the public."

Run by 22 people from all over the world, is set to launch this February or March and has allegedly received 1.2 million anonymous documents. Wikileaks and the massively popular open-source encyclopedia Wikipedia have no formal connection, but Wikileaks is based on the same principles and is constructed in a similar manner. Anyone can post, edit and verify information.

Steven Aftergood, from the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, was offered a position at Wikileaks but turned it down.

"I want to see if it’s for real," Aftergood wrote in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press (CHP). "I disagree in principle with the automatic publication of confidential records since I believe that there is a legitimate place for confidentiality in government operations."

Aftergood felt that regardless of the website’s intentions, there are pitfalls in opening such a store of information.

"I think it has the potential to be a valuable alternative channel of information about some largely closed societies," he said. "It may not be able to fulfill its promise of publishing valuable material. It may be filled with forged or misleading material or buried in trivia."

The site faces not only the concern of publishing valuable materials, but the potential for lawsuits as well. Jim Wagstaffe, partner and co-founder of Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP, believes that Wikileaks may face problems further down the road.

"If documents are classified, then there’s always a risk," he said. "[The government] could hold the Internet liable for a conspiracy theory if they could prove it criminally."

Wagstaffe also highlighted the potential for lawsuits centered on copyright issues. He compared Wikileak’s situation with those of other media outlets.

"Old wine in a new bottle," he said. "These are the same problems; whether with newspapers or magazines, the Internet is just one more way of disseminating information."

While the website states that "the time has come for an anonymous global avenue for disseminating documents that people should see," others, such as Internet activist John Young, remain unconvinced. Young momentarily joined the Wikileaks cause, but resigned soon after.

"The organization’s behavior perfectly matched that of confidence artists and peddlers of snake oil," wrote Young, who further describes his position on his blog site "Capture attention with a hoozah of promises, get favorable press coverage, then leverage that into fund-raising, unsubstantiated with real product."

Only time will tell whether will be able to fulfill its many promises. For now, the website lists its goals based on a belief that there is a world of leaking possibilities.

"Principled leaking has changed the course of history for the better," the website says. "It can alter the course of history in the present; it can lead us to a better future."