Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Cringely Looks at the WikiLeaks Debacle 163

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the corporate-policy-will-rarely-win-you-votes-for-genius dept.
dtwood writes "Infoworld's Cringely has an interesting take on the Julius Baer bank trying to silence WikiLeaks.org — and how stunningly stupid they've been. 'But the bank's solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning. First, this is exactly the kind of story bloggers and Net-centric journos crave. Big nasty corporation stomps all over plucky public-serving underdog. Who can resist that plot line? Second, the equation Bank Julius Baer = Money Laundering is now firmly cemented in the minds of everyone who has encountered this story, regardless of whether it's true. Trois: The documents in question, which might have been quickly forgotten alongside the 1.2 million others on the site, are now hotter than the Paris Hilton sex video. Dozens of mirror sites have sprung up, and Cryptome.org and PirateBay have squirreled away copies of the docs for any interested parties. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Cringely Looks at the WikiLeaks Debacle

Comments Filter:
  • Streisand (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hordeking (1237940) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:56PM (#22490742)
    I think this is called the Streisand Effect.
  • Sizzling! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:56PM (#22490746)
    are now hotter than the Paris Hilton sex video

    That's a pretty fancy way of saying "ice-cold".
    • by Pope (17780)
      Alex, what is cooler than bein' cool?
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:56PM (#22490748) Homepage Journal
    It's a perfect example of the Streisand Effect in action.
    • The documents give the financial details of folks who are (allegedly) evading taxes by using the bank's services, and also tell of the bank's harassment of the (probable) whistleblower.

      I'd not even heard of these events before WikiLeaks was attacked.
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:16PM (#22491082) Journal
        Why would you have? It's deadly boring stuff.

        One of the interesting things about journalism is learning how much work goes into those goddamn money mismanagement stories. You have a bunch of journalists, half of whom don't balance their checkbooks terribly well, going over publicly available monetary expenditures line by line by line. They do good work, by and large, but the absurd tedium, the volume of material, and the fact that you may come to the end of two weeks of work with no story, combines to make those stories pretty uncommon. Lot of people get away with a lot of stuff, even when the records are publicly available.

        This is a perfect example. Who in their right mind would have gone through this stuff unless they knew that there was a story there? Who could have gotten permission to work on it? But now it's everywhere! There are smart bastards in media outlets all over the country trying to confirm it, and they will, because the stuff is never hidden all that well once people start looking.
        • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:01PM (#22491862)

          This is a perfect example. Who in their right mind would have gone through this stuff unless they knew that there was a story there? Who could have gotten permission to work on it? But now it's everywhere! There are smart bastards in media outlets all over the country trying to confirm it, and they will, because the stuff is never hidden all that well once people start looking.
          What makes this sort of thing so interesting is how it's so hard to even track things back to the leaker. Counting on journalists to not put the effort into looking into this stuff is the very definition of security through obscurity. Could Microsoft ever prove one of their engineers was responsible for the leak of a new bug to piracy groups when all the information needed to discover it was already out there in public? It's not like leaving the back door unlocked for an inside robbery or providing the root password for the server or walking out with a briefcase full of documents, etc. Where's the evidence? For this bank or Microsoft, the only question to ask is "Who knew about this internally, who could have leaked it, and why?"

          This makes me think we could see some great revenge stories in the future. Fire someone who knows where the bodies are buried, he'll leak the info to the press. If it's the kind of thing that's all out in public, then piecing together that information would bring all the relevant facts together, there would be no need for the guy to reveal himself and testify in court and attract the ire of his former employer (assuming it wasn't dead obvious who could have/would have leaked the info).
          • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:45PM (#22492490) Homepage Journal
            > Fire someone who knows where the bodies are buried, he'll leak the info to the press.

            This reminds me of an episode of "The Man From UNCLE" that I saw as a kid. A couple had served many years with THRUSH (the bad guys) and were having their retirement party. (on the supposedly non-existent 13th floor of some building) After the party, their boss was taking them out of the building, supposedly to start retirement with a pleasant vacation. The real intent was of course to eliminate them.

            The UNCLE guys rescued them once it became apparent that they were going to be executed, and they became a fount of information.

            Relevance... Depending on who you are, you don't fire the guy who knows where the bodies are buried. You either take very good care of him, add him to the pile of bodies, or make sure that he put some of the bodies there, and you have the evidence. (The last choice doesn't always work, either - "State's evidence".)
            • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @03:12PM (#22492848)

              Relevance... Depending on who you are, you don't fire the guy who knows where the bodies are buried. You either take very good care of him, add him to the pile of bodies, or make sure that he put some of the bodies there, and you have the evidence. (The last choice doesn't always work, either - "State's evidence".)
              Right. The same idea was used with The Prisoner. "The protagonist, played by McGoohan, is apparently a former secret agent of the British government during the Cold War. He is never identified by name and the exact nature of his job is never explicitly indicated, though numerous episodes provide clues. After resigning his position, he is kidnapped and held prisoner in a small, isolated, eccentric seaside resort town known only as the Village.

              The authorities in control of the Village (whose identity and allegiance are never made clear) call him Number Six and attempt to find out, "by hook or by crook," why he resigned. These efforts are made even though they have Number Six's letter of resignation, which by implication would have stated his reasons."

              What made this a nice twist is McGoohan played a James Bondian hero in Danger Man and left the show to do the Prisoner. It was heavily implied that his character on the Prisoner, never named, was his Danger Man character.

              The thing is, all of this spies and murder stuff is a bit over the top for the more typical organization. Someone is going to rat on the Mafia? He'll get whacked. But if it's "just" millions of bucks in a private firm, what are the odds that the principals involved would even know how to contract a hit? That's a bit Hollywood. I think more likely they'd resort to reputation assassination and blackballing. I would have to say, though, with the kind of money involved with a story like the one we're talking about here, I wouldn't be surprised if the principals involved tried to bump off someone. When we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, there have to be some nasty powerful people involved here. It's not going to be like the penny ante millionaire you read about in the paper who gets busted for soliciting an undercover cop for a hit at the local bar. That local millionaire would be like the Office Space guys trying to plan a crime. I'd imagine someone worth hundreds of millions or billions would likely know the right people to ask the right people to ask the right people to have something done and real discreet-like, the kind of way that doesn't make the papers, the kind of way that schlubs like us wouldn't be talking about it on Slashdot.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by budgenator (254554)
                The thing is, all of this spies and murder stuff is a bit over the top for the more typical organization. Someone is going to rat on the Mafia? He'll get whacked.
                How about if the "typical organization" is the kind of place that has those Mafiosos as customers; this guy ratted out the Mafia's bank. Seems like they might have a federal judge in their pocket too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by penguin_dance (536599)
        Just remember this story when you next hear one of the mega-rich complaining that we don't NEED those tax breaks....

  • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:59PM (#22490808)
    The site itself could still be accessed at its Internet Protocol address (http://88.80.13.160/) the unique number that specifies a Web sites location on the Internet. Wikileaks also maintained mirror sites, or copies usually produced to ensure against failures and this kind of legal action. Some sites were registered in Belgium (http://wikileaks.be/), Germany (http://wikileaks.de) and the Christmas Islands (http://wikileaks.cx) through domain registrars other than Dynadot, and so were not affected by the injunction.
  • Cringely, you pretentious twit. You're just not going to have a menage a trois, no matter how much you fantasize about it.
  • Who is stupid? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:01PM (#22490836) Journal

    'But the bank's solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning.
    No doubt the lawyers who advised this course of action have been (or will soon be) paid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KublaiKhan (522918)
      Probably the same guys who advise the RIAA. They're showing a similar level of 'technical expertise'.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:15PM (#22491066)
      Perhaps it's all a fiendishly clever ruse. By coming across as incredibly, phenomenally, mind-blowingly stupid, people will automatically assume that these guys can't possibly be intelligent enough to be laundering money. It's a classic Stupidity Defense. It's really quite devious, when you think about it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ashitaka (27544)
        Douglas Adams lives!!

        "The office of Galactic President exists only to distract attention away from those actually in power."

        Written years before the Bush administration made it the best example in modern times.
        • by Ossifer (703813)

          Written years before the Bush administration made it the best example in modern times.
          What, the Reagan era is not "modern times"?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by lgw (121541)

            What, the Reagan era is not "modern times"?
            Nope, you're old. Kids in college now were born after Reagan left office. Those very same kids should GET OFF MY LAWN!
    • Re:Who is stupid? (Score:5, Informative)

      by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:03PM (#22491888) Homepage
      From wikileaks, the attorney for the Bank is EVAN N. SPIEGEL, ESQ., of LAVELY & SINGER. Their address is 2049 CENTURY PARK EAST, SUITE 2400, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90067-2906, TELEPHONE: (310) 556-3501, FACSIMILE: (310) 556-3615, www.LavelySinger.com, E-MAIL: espiegel@lavelysinger.com.

      http://88.80.13.160/wiki/Full_correspondence_between_Wikileaks_and_Bank_Julius_Baer [88.80.13.160]

      Mr. Spiegel is a pretty senior attorney, so I'm surprised by how inept his actions were. There is no need to write so pointedly. There are times when you need to fight, but they are few and far between. Evan's first message did not mention the DMCA at all; it just asked for contact information. His later e-mails began discussing the DMCA, and then threatened legal actions in the U.S., U.K., and Switzerland. Why didn't he just answer politely in the first place?

      It's just bad lawyering, in my opinion. Proof is the fact you can still access wikileaks, and you're reading this post because of all the publicity. Backfire!
      • Ugh, so hard to read.

        A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
        Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
        A: Top-posting.
        Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?
      • by SpacePunk (17960)
        The dumbass is using 'Esq.' in his title. It's a sure sign of a small penis.
      • My favorite part is how he starts waving around the DMCA without mentioning what specifically is alleged to have infringed, or who the supposed rights-holder is, or any real useful information at all in the context of a DMCA action. As my non-lawyer self recalls, a valid DMCA takedown notice requires that the ISP be given that information, and the owner of the site with the information in question is allowed to dispute the claim. I would think it would also help if the website were actually in the United
    • Re:Who is stupid? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Phat_Tony (661117) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:27PM (#22492258)
      I like the analysis of Lawyer's contributions to this sort of disaster here: [slashdot.org]

      lawyers; because they see only the legal aspects of any issue, they are prone to do great harm... in pursuit of insignificant legal points

      The lawyers think- "Having these documents out is bad. But we could bring a legal challenge to their availability. If having them out is bad, it stands to reason that having a chance to try to get them back in is good."

      It almost sounds reasonable, like the government's standard (and always grossly incorrect) estimate of increased tax receipts following a tax hike by multiplying the new rate by people's current reported income almost sounds reasonable.

      What these companies need is some management oversight. Before launching a new PR campaign, most companies have a standard procedure of running it past the lawyers. But they should also be doing the opposite; when the lawyers come and say "hey, we could sue this small public-interest nonprofit into oblivion, which would undoubtedly accomplish halting the spread of this information on the internet," management should run that past PR and IT before implementing it.
      • Re:Who is stupid? (Score:5, Informative)

        by reebmmm (939463) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @03:58PM (#22493520)

        The lawyers think- "Having these documents out is bad. But we could bring a legal challenge to their availability. If having them out is bad, it stands to reason that having a chance to try to get them back in is good."

        First, your analysis isn't how most lawyers think; it's how their clients think. And, let me be the first lawyer to say that many lawyers are considerably more cautious than their clients. Most lawyers don't rush to take action unless there's a really good reason.*

        Also, many lawyers are familiar with the "Striesand effect" (if not by that name).

        And, even if they're not cautious, lawyers aren't usually the ones steering the boat. At best, they're the guy on top of the ship screaming "iceberg!" And, then they're given unenviable task of being the person to also execute the very public actions.

        "hey, we could sue this small public-interest nonprofit into oblivion, which would undoubtedly accomplish halting the spread of this information on the internet,"

        I doubt, very highly, that suing wikileaks into oblivion was the advice given. Rather, the question was how to address espionage and trade secret issues. In most cases, enforcing your rights is the right choice since it'll never be heard (court enforced gag order) and the documents are returned or destroy. The riskier choice is leaving them out there for public consumption.

        The problem in this case (as became obvious from the e-mail correspondence between the lawyer and K. Kim) was that 1) the documents here show illegal activity and have public interest; 2) the locations of the documents make enforcing a court order incredibly unlikely; and 3) the documents are housed at a sympathetic organization.

        * A special note that trade secret and industrial espionage are usually good reasons to act quickly. As I note later, most of the time, getting a court to impose an order requiring the return or destruction of documents and a gag on further disclosure isn't difficult. Wikileaks, however, is organized in such a way that the typical response was ill-suited.
      • by lgw (121541)
        No, lawyers mostly think in terms of billable hours. Writing letters generates those. Bringing legal challanges generates lots of those.
  • Cringely (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The documents [...] are now hotter than the Paris Hilton sex video.
    Whatever floats your boat Cringely...
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:07PM (#22490946) Journal
    Something incriminating ends up online, and you have two options.

    1) Ignore it, and hope that no one notices it.

    2) Try to get it removed, guaranteeing that everyone in the world will hear about it.

    Sadly, this works the same way whether its true or false information...The information trail almost always increases when you try to have something taken down, so while it may have been only 1 data point before, your attempts to bring it down can create many more...In cases like this, a ridiculously large number.

    Probably the best policy is trying to brazen it out...Hardly ever is the information that good...You can always try to laugh it off, but trying to bury it makes it look like you've something to hide.

    I'm not a huge privacy nut, so this doesn't necessarily bother me, but I wonder if a lot of the free-speech/privacy buffs are starting to feel a little worried. When everything is free, even the most trivial stuff can end up online, and it's pretty obvious that once it's there, it's never coming down.
    • by iamnafets (828439) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:28PM (#22491262) Homepage
      I think this idea that having something removed makes it well-known is fallicious at best. There are select few stories covering content being removed that are publicized and the content spread over the entire internet. Meanwhile, there are an uncountable number of things removed from websites every day for legal reasons or for censorship that are simply ignored. The question isn't "ignore it and hope..." or "try to get it removed", it's more of a question "how likely is this to be covered by a major news outlet, and how pissy will they be about it". If there's only a 1% chance that it makes the front page of slashdot, it's not altogether unwise to go for it. Mass publicity does not always follow censorship. And sadly as censorship becomes more prevalent, publicity will die off with the uproar about it.
      • I'm not saying the whole world, per se, but quite often you see a little blurb story about someone who was outraged that a sex kink of theirs ended up on a college gossip site. The original link is one of those things that actually is pretty ephemeral, but the stories that talk about it, and the cache, and any number of other items make it every so slightly better known than if the subject had just ignored it.

        Not national news, of course. But if you google them, it'll be one of the top returns.

        It's definite
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gr8Apes (679165)
        I think trying to have something removed from a site like Wikileaks will result in publicity. Having something removed from someone's blog that's read by 2 people will not.
      • It may or may not make something well-known, but it pretty much guarantees that copies will be made of everything, and spread over the entire planet. Good luck trying to hide your skeletons then. Furthermore, in this case the mistake was not in trying to get Wikileaks to remove the material: it was the attempt to have the site shut down. This wasn't just some blogger's site ... this was a site dedicated to publicizing whistleblower activity. Worse yet, it was a site which took precautions against such an at
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:29PM (#22491284)
      3) Post an informative rebuttal. If necessary, provide evidence of the misinformation; or, if you are indeed guilty of what has been said, post a rational explanation of how/why it happened, and, again, if necessary, an apology.

      You don't need to publicize your rebuttal, however, if it is either incredibly bad or incredibly good, it will get more coverage (or similar coverage) to whatever you are trying to counter. If it's equally silly, it will likely not increase the popularity of either the original information or yours.
      • by zappepcs (820751)
        So what you are saying is that America should have heard the words:

        Meh? Monica gives good head... so?
        • by lgw (121541)
          Yup, that would have saved millions of wasted hours and dollars, but it would have involved dodging more thrown crockery, so it's understandable that it didn't get said.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1) Ignore it, and hope that no one notices it.

      2) Try to get it removed, guaranteeing that everyone in the world will hear about it.
      You forgot option 3) Debunk it gently and without great fanfare.

      Of course this only works if the information is wrong, but that's as it should be.
      • No, it only works if you can come up with a line of reasoning that shows it is wrong, and appears at least as valid as the original information.

        Actual relative validity may vary quite a bit: You can debunk something that is actually right, if you are good enough. (And the information is questionable enough.)

        On the contrary point, there are things that are wrong that are almost impossible to debunk, if they are held together plausibly enough.
    • by Tom (822) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:46PM (#22491568) Homepage Journal

      Something incriminating ends up online, and you have two options.
      You have three.

      3. Wash it away in a flood of misleading other information.

      That's what politicians and other people experienced at fooling the general public do. For example, look at when controversial laws are passed, it is often during times where the media's minds are elsewhere.

      I think the CIA and the NSA have the best grip on this. AFAIK there is no word "Uninformation" in their vocabulary, but the words "Disinformation" ranks highly.

      There is no negative to "information", so you can't remove it, mathematically speaking. But you can bury it under more information.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @03:07PM (#22492766)
        There's a famous case of this: to flood Google reporting on Xenu and the other cult screts, the Scientologists created the world's largest website and a huge spam run for six months over on alt.religion.scienology, and were cancelling other people's messages and forging messages in their names. It was 3000 messages a night, for six months, using throwaway accounts all over the country. And they also attacked anon.penet.fi, the anonymous remailier, and finally got it shut down when its owner got scared for his clients.

        This is actually why NNTP servers now pubish the "NNTP-Posting-Host", to be able to trace back such abuses.
    • by srmalloy (263556) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:23PM (#22492206) Homepage
      The only effective way to kill something like this is to supplant it using an equally-powerful perception by the public. One of the best examples of this is the rumor that McDonald's used worms in its burger meat; denials by various managers did nothing to halt the rumors, but were more effectively addressed by Ray Kroc:

      Ray Kroc, who bought McDonald's from Mac and Dick McDonald in 1955, added his own assurances: "We couldn't afford to grind worms into our meat," he countered. "Hamburger costs a dollar and a half a pound, and night crawlers six dollars."

      By playing to the perception of McDonald's being fixated on the bottom line, Kroc linked a more powerful meme into the rebuttal. Unfortunately, there is no comparably strong meme for the Julius Baer bank to use; they are stuck with the association that their actions have built.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by greenbird (859670) *

      Something incriminating ends up online, and you have two options.

      1) Ignore it, and hope that no one notices it.

      2) Try to get it removed, guaranteeing that everyone in the world will hear about it.

      3) Step up and address it head on and accept the consequences. But that would take a moral code, some ethics and a conscience so we know no lawyer is going to advise that route let alone a shyster banker take it.

  • RE:[" 'But the bank's solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning."]

    Julius Baer surely did get caught with their pants down...

    i hope the judges ruling gets repealed or revoked, no judge worth their salt should make a ruling to cover up and help to propagate corruption, this judge should be removed from the bench and have his law license revoked...
  • Many other organizations take similar actions. At my university a kid got b& because he was able to find a hole in the CCCA program and was stupid enough to email other people about it over the school's email server. It's a terrible piece of software that most CS and CE majors have been able to easily circumvent anyways. It seems that many people have a strange phobia of technology and those who know how to use it.
  • Pirate Bay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thewils (463314) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:15PM (#22491080) Journal
    I'd be surprised if Pirate Bay has "squirreled away" copies of the leaked docs which would be just asking for trouble. It is my understanding that they don't manage content, only links to torrents providing content from elsewhere.
  • by Otter (3800)
    Not only was that observation made within the first few comments when the story was initially posted here, it was made in the freaking tags to the story!

    It's been clear for years that Cringely has been slipping, but now he can't even keep up with the sort of dullards who have just tagged the Feynman article with "fineman".

    • Just to be clear, this is *NOT* the same as the more famous PBS Cringely [pbs.org].

      Short story: The guy commonly thought of as "Robert X. Cringely" (in reality Mark Stephens [wikipedia.org],) was actually Infoworld's third writer in the Robert X. Cringely column (and therefore, the third to use the name.) He wrote it for so long, that when he left Infoworld, he got to keep the name, as long as he doesn't use it in another computer-industry magazine. Infoworld has been through a number of people writing as "Robert X. Cringely" since Mark Stephens' departure.

      The Infoworld column is pretty standard back-page tech-mag column material, Stephens is the one you think "has been slipping".

      • You mean there are 2 Robert X. Cringely? What are the odds of there being two of them AND both writing major blogs?

        • by Chyeld (713439)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_X._Cringely [wikipedia.org]

          As the GP said, yes there are more than one.

          The name orginated with Inforworld, Stephens was able to take it with him when he left. He can use it outside the straight magzine IT journalist world, he outside of it.

          The writer of the article we are discussing is the current 'ghost writer' at Infoworld. The 'famous' Cringely is the one on PBS.

          They all use the same name, because it is/was a pen name for the author of a specific column in Infoworld.
        • Very good, actually, since it's true. Read the WIkipedia article.

          And there have been way more than two Robert X. Cringelys.

          To recap the history: Infoworld created a back-page column written by "Robert X. Cringely", which was a pseudonym, even the first writer wasn't really named that. Mark Stephens was the third Infoworld writer to write for that column, and lasted about 8 years. (The longest term so far, although it's hard to tell, since Infoworld never actually admits who the current author is. For a
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:28PM (#22491272) Homepage
    Everyone knows Cayman banks launder money, but my understanding is that at least in the case of US clients, only the client himself is actually breaking the law in his own country by not reporting those offshore assets. Did the leaked info actually incriminate a _client_ of the bank? Because the bank may in fact be confident enough that they themselves are operating legally within Swiss and or Cayman law that they don't care, or are even happy to have the exposure.
    • by pcgc1xn (922943) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:48PM (#22492516) Homepage
      You are mistaking money laundering with tax evasion.

      If a US resident has money in a Cayman bank, then there is nothing illegal about this. The resident must declare this money, and the income it earns, to the IRS and they will tax it. If they do not declare the money, then this is tax evasion, and is bad and illegal in the same way if you don't declare the income from your side job where you get paid in cash. But this is the clients problem, not the banks.

      Banks in the Caymans (and other countries) are useful because if you are a resident of somewhere that doesn't have income tax on offshore investments, then you will have a nice, legal, tax free income. Remember YMWV, depending on the tax laws of your country.

      Money laundering is a different kettle of fish. Basically it is an attempt to solve the problem of how to make illegal income look like it is legitimate. Say you have a prosperous drugs business, then you need a way to legitimise the source of the money, or you will have a large number of agencies knocking on your door, including the IRS.

      The other thing that makes countries like the Caymans popular is they have very strict privacy laws, so other authorities cannot find out who actually owns company x. So if you have a big pot of money you made from generic nefarious deals that you want to spend. All you do is borrow a few mil from "pcgc1xn Cayman Lending Inc". If anyone comes knocking and asks how you paid for the Bentley, you can show them the loan documents, and there is a dead end, with no way to prove you have any relation to "pcgc1xn Cayman Lending Inc" other than as a customer.

      Money laundering is generally made illegal by requiring banks etc to know who their clients are, where their income actually comes from, and by requiring them to report suspicious activities to various authorities. If the documents showed that the bank did not report suspicious activities to the Swiss authorities, or worse, had a policy of not doing so, then the bank was likely to be breaking Swiss law.

      This is a general overview, with some pretty simplistic examples, so don't take it as gospel.
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      If you were looking for a place to hide money right now, having read this thread, would you select that bank?

      rj
  • Reputation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seyyah (986027) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:40PM (#22491454)

    'But the bank's solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning. First, this is exactly the kind of story bloggers and Net-centric journos crave. Big nasty corporation stomps all over plucky public-serving underdog. Who can resist that plot line? Second, the equation Bank Julius Baer = Money Laundering is now firmly cemented in the minds of everyone who has encountered this story, regardless of whether it's true.

    Free advertising! What's so bad about that?

    It's the only money laundering bank I can name.
    • It's the only money laundering bank I can name.

      Really? Personally I use...um, never mind.
    • Err, no (Score:2, Insightful)

      by qwerty shrdlu (799408)
      Using a bank that's famous for money laundering defeats the whole point of money laundering. This could cost them their exisiting customers.
  • From TFA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Artaxs (1002024) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:45PM (#22491542)
    "(If you think those [NSA] taps will only be used to identify terrorists, you're living in a fantasy world.)"

    Why is it that this kind of common sense doesn't often penetrate the mainstream media? Because they create said "fantasy world"?

    • by mgblst (80109)
      No, because it isn't true, especially when you start changing the defintion of terrorists (maybe changeing is too strong a word?). After all, there are a whole range of people who can be said to terrorise someone.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:46PM (#22491566) Homepage

    "Cringley" missed a key element of the story. Bank Julius Baer was preparing to take their US operation public via an IPO for about a billion dollars. They filed the prospectus [sec.gov] with the SEC a few weeks ago. "We are an asset management company that provides investment management services to institutional and mutual fund clients. We are best known for our International Equity strategies, which represented 92% of our assets under management as of September 30, 2007." They were going to call the business "Artio" (ticker symbol ART, to be listed on the NYSE). Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch were to underwrite the IPO. [bloomberg.com]

    So the last thing they needed was to be the subject of a New York Times story and all over the world press, associated with money laundering. Now the deal goes under a microscope. Their underwriters have to take a second look and the SEC may have questions. Julius Baer will probably have to file a "material event" 8-K report with the SEC. Newspaper and magazine reporters will be looking at Baer. The question will be raised that the rather high returns Baer reports may be achieved via money laundering.

    All this is happening in a down market, in which it's hard to do an IPO and in which investors are very sensitive to unexpected risk. The whole deal may evaporate, or be repriced downward.

    This was a very, very expensive mistake for Baer.

    • Wow, thank you. Most interesting. Goes to show that even with a low signal to noise ratio, Slashdot gets in right.

      Keep up the good work.

    • In a weird development, someone copied my Slashdot posting above, changed the intro so it looks like a "Wikileaks press release", and sent it to some news outlets via e-mail. It was published by Global Integrity Commons [globalintegrity.org] and ZDnet [zdnet.com] as if from Wikileaks. Someone took out the first sentence about Cringely and put in "Wikileaks has discovered". After the second line, the supposed "Wikileaks press release" matches my text word for word.

      I have no connection with Wikileaks, and have no idea who's behind this h

      • I've just received an e-mail from "press@wikileaks.be" saying that they copied their press release from my Slashdot posting:

        Dear X

        We'd like to thank you for your post to slashdot which we have used after fact checking and a little rewriting in one of our press releases. We would have liked to credit you directly, but the post was pseudononymous.

        WL

        The source is a DSL line in Sweden, so I can't confirm this is valid. I've tried calling Wikileaks, but their phone line is returning a fast busy.

        • I now have an admission from Wikileaks that they copied my posting above and put their name on it as if they wrote it. That was sloppy journalism on their part. ZDnet, which published the Wikileaks press release, has published a correction.

          My concern is to make it clear that I'm neither behind Wikileaks nor copying material from them. I'm writing my own material under my own name, and I stand behind it. "Animats" isn't an anonymous handle; I own "animats.com", and "ANIMATS" is my US registered tradem

  • by exploder (196936) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:53PM (#22491716) Homepage

    the equation Bank Julius Baer = Money Laundering is now firmly cemented in the minds of everyone who has encountered this story, regardless of whether it's true.

    If it is true, and if they can continue to get away with it, then that's some great advertising.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:00PM (#22491844) Homepage
    In following this story, I also read about a recent murder of a bank employee somehow associated with all of this. I guess it's little to do with "Your Rights Online" but it does go to show how far they are willing to go which is a fairly likely reason for some of the mysterious complicity with their demands that is going on here.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:00PM (#22491848)
    From the article, Bob points out how stupid this is, saying: "Second, the equation Bank Julius Baer = Money Laundering is now firmly cemented in the minds of everyone who has encountered this story, regardless of whether it's true."

    He implies that this is a bad thing that the bank would want to avoid. But he has already made it clear that the very reason for existence of these banks is money laundering and tax evasion. Is it that hard to imagine that someone at Julius Baer decided "we don't want the Cayman Islands to be the first thing someone thinks of when they want to do money laundering, we want it to be Julius Baer"? Cringley seems to be playing right into their hands.

  • Servers on Fire (Score:2, Informative)

    by j_m_downing (980759)
    According to the Wired article, their servers may have actually lit on fire.

    ...the organization's hosting center in Sweden was also struck by a denial-of-service attack, after which a fire erupted in the center as well.
    D-O-S, or slashdotted? And is there a difference, from the perspective of someone whoose servers have flames shooting out of them?
  • Infoworld's Cringely has an interesting take on the Julius Baer bank trying to silence WikiLeaks.org -- and how stunningly stupid they've been. 'But the bank's solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning.

    Normally I'd let slide the misuse of the word "stupid" where the word "ignorant" would be more appropriate, but the submitter and Mr Cringely seem to genuinely think that intelligence is conditional on knowledge of the workings and ph

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @03:00PM (#22492652) Homepage
    From the WikiLeaks-Bank correspondence [88.80.13.160] (predating by a month the hearing, which WikiLeaks claims happened only "a few hours" after their receiving a notice):

    Your site promotes, encourages and facilitates the publication and distribution of stolen, illegally and/or tortiously obtained corporate records and private records of third-party consumers, including that of my client and its consumers.

    The above part is hard to disagree with in itself. No doubt, most documents posted to the site were obtained by breaking a law (hence illegally) and/or some company's internal policy (thus violating contract, hence tortiously — funny, the word itself is not known to my browser's spell checker).

    People like lawyers and judges (often — ex-lawyers) are all about law and contractual obligations — there is nothing surprising about their contempt and distaste for anyone encouraging/rewarding either. The judge is neither "stupid" nor "a monkey" — he acted as should be expected.

    Cringley's point is about the stupidity of the bank making itself infamous overnight. This is hard to disagree with, but Cringley's sympathy for Wikileaks shows (he even provided the direct link), so it is valid to discuss the case itself.

    And the case boils down to the oft-asked, but never answered question: Do we want 100%-effective law enforcement? Judges certainly strive to achieve that, and we pretend to agree. But do we agree? Answering "yes" would mean condemnation of WikiLeaks (pertaining to documents in our and other free countries, at least). Answering "no" could mean making it impossible for you to stop dissemination of some information about you... What if a site posted SSNs and addresses of everyone they could?

    WikiLeaks shouldn't have tried to hide — they were asked for contact information repeatedly. It is no wonder at all, that the judge agreed with the plaintiffs and imposed the injunction. He could've found them in contempt too, and imposed a fine in addition...

    • by Rizzen (1059004) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @06:06PM (#22495542)
      But if you look at the email transactions it would appear that the Wikileaks representative did in fact ask them to identify the infringing documents so they could be removed, or updated to reflect correct information. They also pointed out that they were not stopping the banking firm from posting its own information to clarify the documents.

      Instead, they were meet with more hostility and the same ambiguous demands from the lawyer.
      • by mi (197448)

        Wikileaks representative did in fact ask them

        Answering a question (What is your official contact information?) with a question (Why, what do you not like?) does not count as cooperation...

        Instead, they were met with more hostility and the same ambiguous demands from the lawyer.

        As far as I could see, there was nothing particularly ambiguous — the bank's lawyers were demanding to know, the official contact information. The most recent e-mail letter even gave the lawyer's own contact, with a request,

    • What if a site posted SSNs and addresses of everyone they could?

      You mean like when local TV station WFTV listed every concealed-carry permit holder in Central Florida on their web site back in 2005? They posted an Excel spreadsheet with the names, addresses, permit numbers, etc. for some 60,000 people (myself included) and encouraged their viewers to "look and see if your neighbor might be carrying". WFTV got a lot of nasty e-mails as did the Florida state government, but ultimately the station didn't
    • What if a site posted SSNs and addresses of everyone they could?

      That would be so awesome. Then maybe, just maybe, they'd stop pretending SSN's are good for financial 'passwords'. Because they aren't.
    • WikiLeaks shouldn't have tried to hide -- they were asked for contact information repeatedly. It is no wonder at all, that the judge agreed with the plaintiffs and imposed the injunction. He could've found them in contempt too, and imposed a fine in addition...

      Aside from the fact that the case in question wasn't even against Wikileaks, but against the domain registrar of Wikileaks.org, I don't see any evasion on Wikileaks' part in the correspondence.

      My reading is that they recieved a vague threat from Mr S

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @04:15PM (#22493792) Homepage Journal
    Why in the world do you assume it's unwanted publicity?

    If you wanted to advertize their money laundering services, how would you go about that? Publish an ad in newspapers? On TV? Advertize on the webpage? How would you even word such an ad?

    Meantime, Viral Marketing is the new wave. It's a grassroots campaign. If anyone is looking where to launder their money, now they know. And that publicity all nearly for free.

  • Some years ago a radio station (down in Texas, I believe) put in a brand new transmitter. To advertise this fact, they installed a billboard that said, "500,000 watts. More power than God!" This really shouldn't been anything but a blip on the news radar, if that. However, a religious organization made a huge deal over the sign, and it ended up on the evening news across the country. Of course, that meant that now the entire nation was seeing this billboard, which was probably not the intended effect of the

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

Working...