Anonymous whistleblowers behind a WikiLeaks-style website insist they are no hackers – and would not condone hacking.
The oganisers behind ManxLeaks say they are providing a platform to expose ‘corruption, collusion or a serious lack of ethics’ in Manx life.
And they are calling on people to submit ‘sensitive, exclusive and authentic’ documents showing such wrongdoing in a ‘fully secure and anonymous’ way.
But on their manxleaks.org website they insist: ‘We do not support stealing or hacking.’
The island’s data protection supervisor, Iain McDonald, said: ‘They will have to be very careful about what they publish.’
He said publishing personal data could result in an unlimited fine while disclosing information from a computer system carries a penalty of up to six months in jail under the Computer Security Act.
ManxLeaks said the legality of each leak would be assessed individually. ‘ManxLeaks do not intend to defame anybody, nor contempt the court or breach any data protection. We do however intend to expose any wrongdoing and if those paths cross we will take the path we believe is in the best interests of the Manx people.’
ManxLeaks say they have 11 core volunteers who are experts and professionals in areas including law, finance, journalism, communication, computer security, education, business, politics, engineering and who are ‘in no way affiliated with the government or funded by any private businesses’. The Manx Independent does not know their identity.
Contacted by email, they conceded their opting for complete anonymity might deter people from submitting documents or taking the organisation seriously. But after ‘careful deliberation’ they had agreed it would not be in their best interests to expose their identities at this point as it would have a ‘negative impact upon our current full-time professions’.
‘We all agree that it currently would not be beneficial or wise to cast any individual into the public firing line and jeopardise their private lives and the future developments of ManxLeaks,’ they added.
They do intend to appoint a media spokesman, however.
They said on the whole there had been a positive reaction to the launch of ManxLeaks, although it had divided opinion.
Since the launch at the weekend, there had been no ‘substantial submissions’ and it may well take some time before this happens, they admitted.
‘It is ultimately the responsibility of the Manx people to engage the ManxLeaks initiative and submit information to us. We are not investigative journalists but we intend to work with journalists. Nor are we hackers or thieves and we do not condone either behaviour but we have no way of identifying how the information we receive is procured.
‘Residents will undoubtedly take some time to adjust to the idea of ManxLeaks as it seems our social structure discourages people from ‘rocking the boat’, and they will most likely feel any information leaked to us will have repercussions on their lives. We intend to alleviate that pressure and establish a new era of public responsibility and transparency in our governance and institutions.’
ManxLeaks had been 12 months in the planning, they said, the original idea inspired by WikiLeaks but sparked by the lack of Manx Freedom of Information Act and a lack of confidence in our elected representatives and political system.
They added they did not have an ‘agenda’ towards the current government. ‘Our goal is to bring transparency and accountability to any wrong-doing on our island, both in the private and public sectors.’
ManxLeaks say they don’t intend to directly publish any of the documents they receive. Instead, they will present them to the media and if they refuse to publish will assess the reasons why and look at ‘alternative publishing methods’ if they believe that’s in the public interest.
‘We certainly don’t intend to just recklessly copy and paste or “dump” the information without properly scrutinising it first,’ they added.