WikiLeaks is the obvious, and most contemporary inspiration for MafiaLeaks, the latest addition to the swelling ranks of sites seeking whistleblower secrets.
But it is also inspired by something much older: the 16th-century Boche de Leon, mouth-shaped mailboxes in which the citizens of the Venetian Republic could drop documents or notes to magistrates containing anonymous complaints, explains Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at Mashable.
The encryption-fitted Italian site states its mission:
To experiment with an innovative technology to tear down the wall of omertà and silence that protects Mafia organizations. We call on all citizens: If you know something, say something.
While some concerns have been aired about the risks of false information having dangerous consequences, but the site managers say safeguards are in place.
Der Spiegel summarises the encryption and delivery process:
MafiaLeaks relies on Tor, a system that routes data through a cascade of servers designed to mask a user’s IP address, to protect the identity of potential informants. And MafiaLeaks’ cryptic URL (http://pliqhphjyny4yglg.onion) is only accessible using the Tor browser.
Users can use the leaks portal to pass tips on to the site’s creators, who have no information about the identity of the informants. They stress that they wouldn’t want to have that information, either. MafiaLeaks then passes the information on to what they describe as “trustworthy individuals” in the police force, anti-mafia organizations and the media.
Most of the dozens of similar -leak suffixed sites have yet to bear much fruit, but the site’s founder tells Mashable they’re in no hurry. “Just like with the Boche de Leon, you only have to wait and listen, wait for the right small piece of paper with proof. That will come, and once we have overwhelming evidence, we can’t turn away from that.”