By now the word Wikileaks must bring several thoughts to your mind. Sensitive government documents and cables have made their way to this popular/un-popular site and through it to the hands of several news publications and the common man in the end.
However, what about businesses? Do they have secrets to hide from us? Well, just like Julian Assange, another Australian business entrepreneur has Ruslan Kogan has unveiled TradeLeaks.com, a whistleblowing website that will make retail and trade open and transparent.
Just like Wikileaks, TradeLeaks will provide a simple way for consumers and whistleblowers within organizations to anonymously leak information, revealing any dodgy business practices of retail and trade around the world. However, there are several problems as I see it with TradeLeaks. Here are some of my views about them.
First of all, I am not sure how anonymous these leaks will be since they use an online web form on an unsecure network (read non-HTTPS) which might leak out a lot of information to the website and anyone who wants to snoop in to. They also use Analytic tracking software from several services on the leak submission page. Wikileaks does complete anonymous submission through methods they have perfected over the years.
Secondly, There is no verification of information except for public votes and comments. This is exactly opposite of what Wikileaks does. The site’s about page says:
We do not independently assess the veracity of any information posted on our website. Rather, we rely on users to assess the merits of all information posted through posting reply comments and queries, and by rating the quality of the information posted. This verification process does not mean that all information posted will automatically be true, rather it means that users ought to independently assess each piece of information to satisfy their own minds of its veracity
Boom, that is a deal-breaker for me. How could you just not verify information while you call yourself a whistleblower website?
Thirdly, anyone can use the second fault to post false information about another company. Thanks to search engines like Google, such information could quickly make it to search engines and also kick in Google’s algorithm’s to block them in SERPs because of bad business reviews.
Fourthly, there are hundreds of sites including Ripoff Report, FTC Complaints among others which allow users to post bad experiences with any company. TradeLeaks looks more like a consumer complaint site to me rather than a whistleblowing website. The few postings on the current site strongly suggest that.
I am not against TradeLeaks or what they are looking to do, and yes they are just starting out. However, considering all these arguments, my judgment about TradeLeaks is that it is bound to fail for reasons beyond it’s vision. What do you think?