Par:AnoIA: Anonymous Launches WikiLeaks-esque Site for Data Dumps

Frustrated by the lack of impact from Anonymous’ otherwise famous hacks and data dumps, and the slow pace of material coming out of WikiLeaks, participants in the Anonymous collective have launched a WikiLeaks-like site called Par:AnoIA (Potentially Alarming Research: Anonymous Intelligence Agency).

Paranoia, which debuted in March, is a new publishing platform built by Anonymous to host Anonymous data leaks that’s trying to find a solution to a problem that plagues news sites, government transparency advocates, and large-website owners everywhere: how to organize more data than any human could possibly read.

The site marks a departure from the groups’ previous modus operandi, where it would publicly drop the documents, make them available in a torrent — usually as a zip file, and then move on. By contrast, the goal of Paranoia is to curate and present content to a hopefully interested public.

Paranoia anons say they don’t gather the data themselves; like WikiLeaks, they take submissions, but from the Anonymous community. The project was created as a response to a year of Anonymous releases where the announcement of document dumps generated plenty of media, but the documents’ content got little coverage.

“The reason no one cares about these leaks, as a general rule of thumb, is that they can’t do anything with [them],” said a Paranoia anon volunteering on document processing for the project in an online chat with Wired. “Basically, [we’re] making it accessible to anyone that wants to do something with it, in a proper usable format.”

Part of the motivation to build the leak site, the Paranoia volunteer said, was to get material out faster than WikiLeaks’ long lead times. “I’m pretty sick by these 20-year-plans,” said the founding anon.

In 2012, WikiLeaks, which no longer has a way to publicly upload documents, has leaned on the anarchic collective for its major releases, including Stratfor and the recent Syrian emails. Could Paranoia represent a threat to the beleaguered leaking site’s recent lifeline?

“I don’t know. Guess that… depends on WikiLeaks.” said founding anon, who went on to say that the leaks site has recently contacted Paranoia. “(It) will be interesting to see what they have to say.”

On Friday, WikiLeaks accused one of the main Anonymous Twitter accounts of promoting insecure proxies, hinting that the account was being run at the direction of law enforcement. AnonymousIRC slapped back, including a Tweet alluding to WikiLeaks being dependent on Anonymous for its relevance:

Other efforts at dealing with leaked data, including WikiLeaks, have been built on a similar ideal of citizen participation. The “wiki” in WikiLeaks signaled the project’s intention to leak documents, and have a crowd-sourced equivalent of the CIA analyze the documents. That notion was abandoned after the founders discovered that only themselves, academics and journalists took the time to delve into data sets. (WikiLeaks subsequently began partnering with media organizations, which it soon found came with a different set of complications.)

Even Anonymous’ own Operation Leakspin tried to get organizing and analysis done by engaging crowds with relatively raw data. It too was abandoned for lack of interest.

Paranoia isn’t exactly replicating these experiments, but they are assuming that, with better tools and organization, journalists, researchers, and the interested public in general will eventually engage with leaks in much deeper ways.