Rupert Murdoch’s Not-As-Safe-As-You-Think House

May 6, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

In December, the Wall Street Journal (here) called for death to leakers of government documents, specifically WikiLeaks sources and Julian Assange.
One alternative would be for Congress and the Administration to collaborate on writing a new statute aimed more precisely at provocateurs like Mr. Assange. At a minimum, the Administration should throw the book at those who do the leaking, including the option of the death penalty. That would probably give second thoughts to the casual spy or to leakers who fancy themselves as idealists.
Five months later, the WSJ announced its own version of WikiLeaks called SafeHouse. It sounded pretty good to me. It would do for (or to) capitalists what WikiLeaks did to governments.
Documents and databases: They're key to modern journalism. But they're almost always hidden behind locked doors, especially when they detail wrongdoing such as fraud, abuse, pollution, insider trading, and other harms. That's why we need your help.

If you have newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits, you can send them to us using the SafeHouse service.
Business Insider dashed onto the field to lead the cheers, comparing the WSJ most favorably to WikiLeaks.
[An informant] can simply and easily submit his documents to an organization with a reputation for journalistic excellence. The choice between the erratic Julian Assange and WSJ is not a tough one at all.
Or is it?

A colleague directed me and my naive optimism to Gawker, which read the fine print in the SafeHouse prospectus and found “a doozy of a caveat in its Terms of Use:”
Except when we have a separately negotiated confidentiality agreement… we reserve the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process, to operate our systems properly, to protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies, and to safeguard the interests of others.[emphasis added]
There’s probably a sociological point here – something about technology and information and institutions. Or maybe just something about my own (temporary, I hope) credulity. As our great orator (and apparently great Who fan) said, “There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — [pause] — shame on you. Fool me — [pause] — You can't get fooled again.”

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