Caitlin Gallagher
November 14, 2017 1:23 pm
ZekaG / Getty Images

WikiLeaks was a hot topic in 2010, but the organization is receiving attention these days for its connection to Donald Trump Jr. and the 2016 presidential election. While you surely have heard of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, you may not completely get what WikiLeaks is all about. And as WikiLeaks is not going away — even though its founder Assange is posted up in an Ecuadorian embassy — now’s as good a time as any to learn about this organization.

According to its own website:

The institution was created in 2006 for whistleblowers — people who alert others about wrongdoings in their companies — to “leak” information anonymously to the organization through its “high-security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies.”

This high level of security is essential, since WikiLeaks releases incredibly sensitive documents to the public. For instance, in October 2010, WikiLeaks disclosed nearly 400,000 secret military logs about U.S. operations in Iraq, according to the BBC.

As WikiLeaks explains on its website:

You may be wondering if the “Wiki” in the name means the site is related to Wikipedia. WikiLeaks clarifies, stating, “Our news stories are in the comfortable presentation style of Wikipedia, although the two organisations are not otherwise related. Unlike Wikipedia, random readers can not edit our source documents.” However, that doesn’t stop many people from confusing the two sites.

By its own assessment, WikiLeaks’ goal is to expose government secrets to the public.

After all, its tagline is: “We open governments.” Yet, lots of controversy surrounds WikiLeaks because of the leaking of confidential documents. And its relationship to Trump Jr. is currently being looked at, since FiveThirtyEight reported that WikiLeaks released documents before the 2016 election that could have hurt Hillary Clinton and led her to lose the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

As the face of WikiLeaks, Assange is also controversial. Up until May 2017, he was being investigated for rape by Sweden. He has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 because of the sexual assault charges, but he could leave now that those charges are dropped. However, The Guardian noted that Assange’s lawyers said he will continue to stay there unless he is assured that the U.S. will not extradite him based on possible company-related espionage charges.

From the embassy he’s staying at, Assange has even been actively tweeting about Trump Jr.’s relationship to his organization since news broke on November 13th.

How much transparency you demand of the government will dictate your feelings toward WikiLeaks. But don’t expect this whistleblowing organization to go anywhere anytime soon.