Wikileaks' Julian Assange Sounds Off in Fascinating Five-Hour Transcript

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 19, 2013

For anyone interested in open standards, privacy, encryption or just general advancements in digital technology, one of the jewels delivered online this week was Wikileaks' release of a transcript for what is reportedly a five-hour "secret" meeting between Wikileaks' Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. The transcript of the 2011 meeting is here, and it is well worth jumping around in it for surprises. Among them, Assange--who specializes in all things related to privacy and the lack of it online--says that he does not use email.

At one point in the conversation, Schmidt asks Assange this: "I mean I assume you can do email and all that, no?" And Assange says: "I don't use email. Too dangerous. And encrypted email is possibly even worse, because it is such a flag for end point attacks. It's like, attack that end point attack that end point - that's an encrypted [inaudible] So but we do have encrypting phones, unfortunately they don't work in all countries, but the SMSs work in all countries." It sounds like Assange doesn't think too highly of talking on cell phones either.

The conversation also ranges from discussion of "darknets" to possible schemes for hooking up cell phones in poor regions of the world to form mesh networks. While Assange is not a huge fan of email, he does happen to think that chat rooms are a killer app for parts of the world where dissenting voices need to be heard. He says:

"The killer application is not lots of voice. Rather it is chat rooms. Small chatrooms of thirty to a hundred people -- that is what revolution movements need. They need it to be secure and they need it to be robust."

You can find lots more interesting threads in the long transcript, including a long discussion of the merits of whistleblowing as practiced by Wikileaks. It's worth reading.