Heavy | 18 June 2016
WikiLeaks just released a mysterious filed labeled “WIKILEAKS INSURANCE” for people everywhere to download in advance of a huge upcoming announcement. This file serves as a type of “deadman’s switch” that is currently encrypted. WikiLeaks will release a second encryption key to unlock the file if they are prevented from making a planned announcement. Because of previous statements made by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, many people are wondering if this insurance file is meant to ensure that WikiLeaks can release potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Here’s what you need to know.
WikiLeaks Recently Released a Torrent Titled “WikiLeaks Insurance”
On Friday morning, WikiLeaks made a big announcement. “Protect our coming publications,” WikiLeaks wrote on its Twitter account. It provided a link for where people could download a torrent file called WIKILEAKS INSURANCE 2016-06-03. The file is listed as being 88 Gb. An insurance file is typically an unredacted version of a file that WikiLeaks is planning to release.
WikiLeaks posts insurance files as a type of “deadman’s switch.” Downloaders get an encryption key, but they need a second one before they can actually unlock the file. The insurance file operates as a type of backup. If anything happens to WikiLeaks, the second key is released, giving everyone access to the file.
On a Reddit thread about the drop, posters theorized that the file was likely 88 GB (gigabytes) not 88 Gb (gigabits). The 88 GB size would be a huge size and might indicate that the file includes videos and other larger documents. Or, as one person on Reddit theorized, it may contain some junk files to fill up space, or it may actually be more than 88 GB if any files are compressed. What’s in the file is all speculation, since no one has the second key to decrypt the file.
If you want to access the file yourself, you’ll need a torrent application. But remember, it can’t be decrypted unless a second password is released.
WikiLeaks Has Released Insurance Files Before
This isn’t the first time that WikiLeaks has posted an insurance file. Sometimes, the encrypted insurance file has far more sensitive, non-redacted information that governments and others would not want released. That’s why the insurance file provides incentive that allows WikiLeaks to move forward on a planned announcement or file drop.
In February 2012, for example, WikiLeaks released an insurance file. In an interview about the insurance file with Eric Scmidt, Julian Assange said: “We openly distribute … encrypted backups of materials that we view are highly sensitive that we are to publish in the coming year… So that there is very little possibility that that material, even if we are completely wiped out, will be taken from the historical record… Ideally, we will never reveal the key… Because there is things, like, … redactions sometimes need to be done on this material.”
Other insurance files released in the past by WikiLeaks include:
- July 2010 – An Insurance file was added to the Afghan War page on WikiLeaks. It may have been connected to U.S. diplomatic cables.
- August 2013 – Three more insurance files were released. The contents are not known.
The Upcoming Release May Be Related to Clinton’s Emails or the Guccifer 2.0 Hack
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have previously shared that they have emails of Clinton’s to release that may carry enough weight for an indictment. Many are theorizing that this Insurance File has been released so that WikiLeaks can make the planned document drop about Clinton’s emails. But 88 GB seems like a huge amount if it only contains emails.
But he may have more than just emails. Assange told a British TV station: “We’ve accumulated a lot of material about Hillary Clinton. We could proceed to an indictment.” However, he added, he doubted she would actually face charges because the current attorney general won’t likely indict her.
This week, a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0 also released information they purportedly hacked from the Democratic National Convention. (The Democratic Party had, previously, confirmed that they were indeed hacked by someone from Russia.) Most of the files were run-of-the-mill background information about presidential transitions and planned PR moves against Donald Trump. But one showed an email sent to the DNC around the same time that Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for president. The email showed the DNC working actively to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Although Guccifer 2.0 has not been confirmed as the authentic DNC hack, WikiLeaks did tweet about Guccifer 2.0’s claim that they had sent additional hacked files to WikiLeaks. Some are theorizing that WikiLeaks’ big file release may be related to Guccifer 2.0 and information found about Hillary Clinton.
If the information in the file is really damaging, some people on Reddit are theorizing that it might shift superdelegates’ opinion on Hillary Clinton before the Democratic National Convention.
It’s important to note that at this point in time, we have no idea what is contained in the upcoming file or when it will be released. But since most of Assange’s comments to press recently have been about information he has on Clinton, that’s where most people are focusing their theories.
Some are wondering why WikiLeaks hasn’t just released the information already. Part of the reason may concern news cycles and making sure the release isn’t overshadowed by other national news happening at the same time. Part of the reason may also be related to when WikiLeaks received the file. The organization often combs through files to redact any sensitive information that might put lives in danger. The INSURANCE file is typically the unredacted version.