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Wall Street Journal creates a leaky Wiki-clone

The Wall Street Journal has launched its own WikiLeaks-inspired sensitive document handling service - but contributors may find that they get more than a headline for their troubles, thanks to some worrying terms buried in the small print.

On the surface, Murdoch's latest wheeze is a simple commercial exploitation of the seemingly inevitable leaking of confidential documents via services such as Julian Assange's WikiLeaks. "Documents and databases: They're key to modern journalism," the WSJ SafeHouse site declares. "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."

That help, the site goes on to explain, should be in the form of text tiles, audio recordings, and photographs on subjects as diverse as politics, government, banking, financial deals, law, national security, foreign affairs - and, of course, Wall Street itself. The one thing that ties the documents together: they should be confidential.

It's a technique which has worked well for WikiLeaks, if perhaps not for some of the more unlucky people associated with the service - such as leakee Bradley Manning. Where WikiLeaks promises to hide your identity behind a wall of secrecy, however, the WSJ SafeHouse service merely gives that impression - while the fine print reveals a very different modus operandi.

"We reserve the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities," the fine print reads, "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."

So, what Murdoch's team has created is a WikiLeaks which will happily hand over its sources - not only to law enforcement officials, but to any "requesting third party."

It's a move which is unlikely to win the Journal any fans in the document-leaking community - and one which flies in the face of journalistic integrity, which centres around the need to protect sources of confidential information from harm surrounding the commercial exploitation of that information, which we hacks use to pay our mortgages.

The Wall Street Journal has yet to respond to our request for comment on the matter - but, for now, those wishing to disseminate inflammatory information would do well to look elsewhere.