Safe house, honey pot, or just dazed and confused at the Wall Street Journal?

The Wall Street Journal is creating its own version of Wikileaks, call SafeHouse, where you are invited to

Help The Wall Street Journal uncover fraud, abuse and other wrongdoing.

What would they like from you?

Documents and databases: They’re key to modern journalism. 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.

If you have newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits, you can send them to us using the SafeHouse service.

“SafeHouse”, however, sounds more like a “honey pot” when you read the WSJ’s Terms and Conditions, which offers three ways of communicating with SafeHouse:

1. Standard SafeHouse: […] Dow Jones does not make any representations regarding confidentiality.

2. Anonymous SafeHouse: […] Despite efforts to minimize the information collected, we cannot ensure complete anonymity.

3. Request Confidentiality: […] If we enter into a confidential relationship, Dow Jones will take all available measures to protect your identity while remaining in compliance with all applicable laws.

OK, so as they say, “You use this service at your own risk.” But, here’s where things start to get puzzling:

You agree not to use SafeHouse for any unlawful purpose.


If you upload or submit any Content, you represent to Dow Jones that you have all the necessary legal rights to upload or submit such Content and it will not violate any law or the rights of any person.

How can anyone provide confidential documents that belong to another organization without violating the rights of that organization?

Even if you put aside for a moment the absurd notion of a “SafeHouse” where you can post materials that belongs to others, without violating the rights of these others, or any laws for that matter, there is a more puzzling question of why the Wall Street Journal has decided to create their own version of Wikileaks in the first place.

An editorial from June 29, 2010 was entitled “Wikileaks ‘Bastards'” which effectively summarizes their views on anonymous leaking. The WSJ has been consistent in their stance: there are other editorials from April 25, Jan 21, Dec 31, etc., and even today’s editorial page notes that

…we have laws on the books that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of government secrets. Those laws would fall hard on any official who violated his oath to protect classified information.

So why would they try to create their own version of a communication forum that they clearly despise? An editorial from Dec 2, 2010 provides a clue:

We can’t put the Internet genie back in the bottle.

Well, one place the Internet genie hasn’t yet visited is the Wall Street Journal’s main website: a search for “SafeHouse” there yields no results. Nothing to see here, folks, move along now…